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Many retail businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic. They were forced to transition to a new reality quickly and find alternative ways to keep their businesses alive. For convenience stores specifically, they have learned how to stand their ground through this difficult time by focusing on the evolution of technology through mobile ordering and delivery.

Mobile ordering has been around for awhile. People have come to expect certain conveniences such as getting everything they need without physically traveling to a store. For example, you can easily order take-out without leaving your couch using food delivery apps like UberEats and Postmates. There are also apps including Instacart and goPuff that allow you to order everyday necessities like groceries and over-the-counter medication.

According to CSP.com, everything from loyalty programs to contactless ordering and payments, mobile-friendly features have become a consumer expectation rather than just an added convenience. These features aren’t just helpful for consumers—they’ve become increasingly crucial to retailers, too.

Industry giants are doubling down on innovation. In fact, 7-Eleven has been working with DoorDash and Postmates since the pandemic started. It also launched its own delivery service application, 7-NOW, to provide delivery to some metropolitan areas around the country.

Retail consultancy King-Casey predicts that more than half of c-store brands will offer digital ordering and delivery options by 2023. Therefore, Invig Consulting is here to help shed light on this dynamic and constantly evolving industry in the following ways.

Embrace the Digital Transformation

In response to 7-Eleven’s 7-NOW, Raghu Mahadevan, 7-Eleven vice president of digital and head of delivery, said, “Expanding the marketplace beyond our stores has been a strategic goal and these extraordinary times have accelerated our efforts to get the products our customers want and need to them as safely as possible.”

According to Supermarket News, “With nearly 153,000 c-stores across the country, just under 45 percent of the U.S. population lives within a mile of a c-store. In some rural regions, c-stores are the primary destination for groceries, prepared foods, fuel and other vital services. The mobile ordering trend is inevitable.”

Mobile ordering and delivery are part of the plan of action that can bring incredible benefits to c-stores. It should not be a temporary bandage during this health crisis, rather a wise investment in a brand’s future. Be that as it may, it’s imperative to thoroughly consider the brand’s objectives before just hopping in.

Create an Overall Customer Strategy

Research by American Express found that 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a better experience. It’s essential to understand who your customers are and create a strategic plan for owning the entire consumer experience.

Your overall strategy should start from the initial phone interaction to when products are delivered. Consider the genuine brand value and communicate that when the customer experience is external to the store.

The mindset of one-time delivery that only involves working with a third-party operator to deliver goods and to a customer’s home should be abandoned. It’s about creating a strategic plan for owning the entire consumer experience, from the moment of the initial interaction to when products are delivered.

Engage Based on Data-Driven Insights

According to a byline article by Core-Mark, “Data insights are important not only to informing key strategies to drive traffic and boost sales, but also to tailoring each shopper’s experience to their individual needs and increasing customer satisfaction overall. Personalization can help give a retailer a leg up in customer conversion and retention—bolstering increased sales in the long run.”

In the scope of your mobile ordering strategy, utilize data-driven insights to help deliver customized content and offer promotions based on the user buying habits, location, interests, and constraints.

The impact of mobile ordering will continue to grow and become more profound. For c-stores, those who quickly pivot to meet customer needs will separate from the pack of those who were slower to adapt.

Those who keep innovating and always put customers first will make all the difference this year and years ahead.

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