BATH, U.K.—A newly released C-Store Technology Insight Report from Zynstra, a retail software provider, outlines key priorities and obstacles c-store retailers face as they look to deliver better customer experiences and reduce costs.
The report reveals findings from a survey of c-store directors and IT managers at U.S. convenience store chains that have 20 to 500 outlets and an average revenue of $10 million to more than $999 million. When asked about their point-of-sale systems (POS), only 18% of respondents said they had the exact POS infrastructure required to serve the business today and in the future. Other findings include:
- 25% said they were uncertain of future customer checkout behavior, but they know they should make POS investments now to adjust to evolving behaviors.
- 23% acknowledged that their current POS infrastructure must change to meet the demands of the future.
- 21% are seeking a solution to keep their legacy POS running in order to buy time as they analyze how checkout behavior evolves.
Amazon Go’s frictionless checkout system has set the benchmark for convenience, and Amazon’s Prime loyalty program continues to expand offline. C-store retailers know they must offer new levels of frictionless checkout and omnichannel convenience to compete, but they face barriers due to the high cost and lack of consistency across their technology infrastructure.
Researchers found a number of common challenges in rolling out new applications and services to c-stores. Among the challenges c-stores cited:
- 43% said the cost of sending IT teams to upgrade and install the new features.
- 42% mentioned inconsistency of offline-online components.
- 37% noted overall budgets hindering their ability to implement new features.
- 32% reported the lack of consistency across store sites, which created friction in delivering an omnichannel experience.
Because of growth in technology and increased industry competition, survey respondents identified mobile POS tablets, kiosk-based POS, scan and go, mobile payment apps, order online/pick-up in-store and order at the pump as “very important” to future business success.
To meet the challenges of implementing new applications and services, 91% of survey respondents reported that simplified management of IT is a top priority. Centralized management of stores through a software-defined store strategy can be the key to this, as it allows chains to manage all stores from one central system, enabling faster app deployment and more secure IT updates. Other top IT priorities for c-store retailers include:
- Reducing IT costs
- The ability to run new advanced applications
- Empowering store associates with the appropriate technology to maximize sales per square foot
“With rising labor costs impacting margins, c-store retailers are looking for ways to drive in-store cost efficiencies while meeting customers’ expectations for a fast and frictionless experience,” said Nick East, CEO and founder of Zynstra. “We are seeing c-store retailers look toward optimizing their existing POS infrastructure, while digitally transforming their stores for the future.”