Technology/Services

Managing the digital experience in the “next normal”

Illustration: Shutterstock

Adapting to the rapidly changing environment is critical for convenience store retailers to survive in the “next normal.” Digital signage technology will play a crucial role in the future of foodservice: keeping c-store customers and employees informed about health and safety protocols, as well as driving sales increases with guest-engagement and tailored promotions. 

Managed solutions 

To be effective, digital signage should be deployed throughout the c-store environment. Since the need for fuel often initiates a c-store visit, the forecourt is a great place to start. At the pump, digital signage can offer info on curbside pickup ordering and delivery, as well as draw customers into the store for high-margin purchases such as food and beverages. Fuel-customer conversion showed an uptick in August over April, according to Technomic’s August 2020 C-Store Foodservice in the Covid-19 Environment report.

Messaging from the bright, outward-facing display of dual-sided signage can also draw more traffic into the store; while inside, the interior display communicates health and safety messaging, such as masks and social distancing, as well as point-of-purchase promotions. 

Driving drive-thru

C-stores are rethinking foodservice as they face increased competition for the “convenience dollar” from grocery pickup/delivery and third-party food delivery. With customers leery of self-serve food options—one in five operators may close self-serve formats permanently, according to Technomic’s Q3 2020 C-Store Consumer MarketBrief—c-stores are looking for alternatives. Increasingly, that means deploying drive-thrus to sell made-to-order food and beverages—and c-stores have the added flexibility to sell groceries and non-food items as well. 

Quick-service restaurants have learned the benefits of digital drive-thrus. According to Forrester’s Total Economic Impact Study, digital menu boards at drive-thrus increased average QSR orders by 2.5%, influenced the conversion rate on promotional items by 2%, and bumped up traffic volumes by 9.1%. Obviously, that same strategy will work for c-stores. When it comes to foodservice, 50% of respondents say c-stores are just as capable as restaurants in offering fresh food and beverages, according to Technomic’s August 2020 C-Store Foodservice in the Covid-19 Environment report.

Evolving technology

Signage for drive-thrus has greatly evolved: it’s less bulky with simplified enclosures and boasts brighter screens—plus the new setups are less-expensive. Digital signage can boost sales by suggesting likely add-ons based on order content, time of day and ambient temperatures. What’s more, the outdoor menu board becomes a billboard when no vehicles are in the drive-thru.

As consumers venture back inside c-stores, interior menu boards allow retailers to automatically adjust for daypart menu changes and delete out-of-stock items. Digital menu boards can up-sell and cross-sell to boost ticket averages and highlight new products and LTOs with eye-catching motion graphics. 

In the back of the house, networked signage keeps employees up to date about daily specials, item inventories as well as alert them to new safety requirements and health checks.

Partnering with experts 

Busy c-store retailers can’t manage all this digital signage alone of course; they team up with specialists. With over 30 years of experience, SageNet Digital Signage Solutions can help c-store operators with analysis, planning, budgeting, deployment, monitoring, management and maintenance of multi-site signage. While operators focus on the big picture of messaging and customer engagement, SageNet works on procurement and configuration of displays, players, firewalls and switches, including in-store cabling and wifi. With a secure and robust cloud-based Content Management System, operators use intuitive drop-and-drag techniques to create, schedule, edit and publish. 

SageNet can also help with messaging and content, providing a la carte or turnkey applications, including strategy, design and production services. It’s a one-stop shop. To learn more, click here.

This post is sponsored by SageNet

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