CHICAGO — The year 2021 is on course to continue the trend of blurring retail channels.
Gift shops, drug stores and other convenience-store competitors are making upgrades in contactless checkout and delivery while c-stores are getting smarter with more back-office options to improve operations.
Click through for five new examples of channel blurring and what c-stores are doing about it …
Frictionless checkout tech from Amazon Go recently made its debut outside the Amazon brand. Hudson News, which has more than 1,000 convenience-like stores in airports, commuter hubs, landmarks and tourist destinations in North America, has opened its first Hudson Nonstop store using Amazon’s “just walk out” technology at Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL).
Stealing c-store thunder
“Convenience is at the core of what we do,” said Stefanie Kruse, vice president of digital commerce and omnichannel at Walgreens, regarding the chain’s new partnership with grocery delivery firm Instacart.
The partnership is starting in Illinois, but Walgreens plans to offer delivery through Instacart to about 8,000 locations in the coming weeks.
C-stores get smarter
In one example of c-stores getting smarter to beat the competition, Kum & Go is rolling out CB4's artificial intelligence (AI) for store teams across the chain. The partnership focuses on improving presentation issues, difficult-to-find products, out-of-stock products and unclear pricing and promotional signs.
- Kum & Go is No. 18 on CSP’s 2021 Top 40 update to the Top 202 rank of c-store chains by store count.
The CB4 app alerts Kum & Go store teams when they could be missing out on opportunities to maximize sales and suggests quick fixes. These quick fixes often come down to replenishing products left in the stock room, escalating out of stocks and correcting ticketing errors.
Delivery is the norm
Suppliers are taking notice of retailers’ increased focus on delivery. Flanders, N.J.-based software provider ADD Systems is partnering with Chicago-based e-commerce firm Vroom Delivery to offer c-stores an opportunity to expand into order-ahead with pickup or delivery.
Vroom specializes in helping retailers start their own delivery service. The partnership with ADD Systems could make it easier for more retailers to have access to Vroom’s expertise.
More tobacco scan data options
PDI has expanded its PDI CStore Essentials tobacco loyalty program for single-site and independently operated convenience stores. The new feature will make it easier for c-stores, regardless of fuel brand, to use tobacco manufacturer funds and promotions to drive sales.
The move from PDI makes tobacco loyalty more widely available and gives independent c-store operators more options.