How do fuel and convenience retailers remain relevant in the face of disruptive challenges? Although the industry has been granted a free pass from many of the developments faced by other retail sectors, new challenges have arrived. From food delivery and mobile ordering to EVs and others, today’s playbook may no longer work in the near-future.
Disruption was a key theme during Outlook Leadership 2018, held August 19 through August 22 at Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. GasBuddy joined the conversation by hosting a panel of leading experts. Titled 2022: Beyond Fuel, this panel’s participants explored a range of potentially disruptive issues.
For instance, consider the increased importance of customer experience. When so many products are available from online retailers and delivery services, consumers are less tolerant of dirty, boring and unexceptional stores. Many once-iconic brands have been forced out of the marketplace after refusing to adapt to trends in the industry.
Fuel and convenience retailers have become especially vulnerable to this. Not only is the closest competitor often located just across the street, but apps such as GoPuff leverage stereotypes about “dirty gas stations” to promote their services. Fuel delivery apps such as Yoshi may also find success as consumers realize they can avoid potentially unsatisfactory experiences.
“The forecourt is the first point of contact at your c-store,” said Sam Herro, director of retail fuels at Kum & Go. “I think there’s some huge opportunities there. You can take a look at things like lighting, pump speed, cleanliness. If you came to a very nice restaurant and saw trash all over the place, if you saw grease stains and gas spilled everywhere, what would you think of the quality of food inside that store?”
“You have to understand who the customer segments are, and what needs they have and what’s not being met,” said Derek Gaskins, SVP of merchandising and procurement at Yesway. “As customers in general have become used to experiences that are world-class, things we used to focus on are now table stakes. If you don’t have clean restrooms, they’re not even going to stop. If you don’t have quality foodservice, they may stop that one time, but you may lose them for any future subsequent trip.”
This is especially important, explained Aaron Simpson, Maverik’s chief marketing officer, because convenience retailers are well-positioned to compete in foodservice. “As we’ve grown our foodservice and as your food quality gets on par with QSRs or maybe fast casuals, we actually have a real advantage over them. Because all of a sudden, those things on the core side of the store make us really different. I can’t go to a restaurant and get a burrito and any kind of energy drink that I want. Or any kind of candy bar I want. Or any kind of chips I want.”
It’s more important than ever to know where consumer trends are heading and how to can stay ahead of the curve. GasBuddy’s panel of industry leaders covered a variety of technological and competitive trends. The full report provides additional insights that can help your company navigate today’s evolving retail environment.
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This post is sponsored by GasBuddy