What Independent System Ownership Looks like at Convenience Stores


It’s no secret that the convenience store industry is in a major transition period. With changing customer expectations, payment method and security requirements and the rise of electric vehicles, c-stores everywhere are experiencing a combination of challenges and opportunities. While it may feel overwhelming at times, the prospect of capitalizing on new opportunities within the industry should provide confirmation that the convenience industry is as vital to day-to-day life as it always has been.

To take advantage of new revenue streams, the key to success is a digitally agile system which sees businesses transitioning out of hardware-dominated or complex software systems that are difficult to implement, adjust and manage day-to-day. These types of systems may get the job done, but they lack the tools and infrastructure for retailers to generate ongoing revenue and future-proof their businesses using their internal teams or preferred vendors.

The key to a digital system with ongoing value sits with the structure and setup of that system. When looking for a vendor, retailers should make sure, first and foremost, that the system is rooted in security. Businesses should make sure that the vendor has a dedicated research and development team that stays up to date with payment industry certifications, requirements and general trends. From there, the system itself should be built in such a way that each piece of functionality that takes place at the c-store can be adjusted without having to interact with the broader system. A microservice-based architecture is the ideal way to do this, with the system being set up in “mini software solutions,” each addressing a separate piece of functionality and connected on an agile, open-API foundation.

With this type of setup, systems become truly agile and independently owned. If a business prefers one vendor for the platform foundation, but different vendors for their carwash management, loyalty program or point-of-sale integration, they are free to choose the vendors they wish to use. The open API foundation allows for easy integration, and there should be no cost associated for the vendor or third-party integrator to make the connection happen.

This setup also makes the system generally easier to work with, especially when the code structure follows industry standards (think Conexxus) and delivery includes a comprehensive software development kit (or SDK, aka the “instruction manual”). With these two factors, the IT team of each business should be able to really dig in and obtain a solid understanding of the system, so that they can become an authority on the solution as they lean the ins and outs.

From there, the more ideas each business has, the better. They can work with their internal teams, third parties or go back to the vendor to implement the ideas they have. There is no more waiting on the system vendor to determine the timeline and investment for implementations. There is no more total system overhaul to address one small piece of functionality. There is no more costly and difficult-to-maintain hardware systems. And the best part? The system is now future proof. Designed to adjust with whatever comes next for the ever-changing convenience industry. The peace of mind and opportunity for return on investment will provide the tools needed to not only have great ideas, but to implement them into reality.

This post is sponsored by Invenco