LONDON—For the year end installment of its 2020 Shop Talk LIVE series, the team at Global Convenience Store Focus recapped how changing consumer behaviors during the pandemic are prompting convenience retailers globally to rethink and reimagine the customer experience.
Moving Into 2021
Mark Dempsey, consulting director at Global Data, shared that moving into 2021, retailers are identifying what could remain the same and what will change, especially as they leverage their experience to drive sales and increase loyalty. His firm’s research suggests that foodservice saw double-digit declines globally across every region and sector. Also, one-third of all consumers expect to continue working from home, which will continue to impact forecourt and in-store traffic.
“The is now to ask ourselves how we can ensure that the convenience store sector remains top of mind,” Dempsey said, noting recent developments by U.S.-based Wawa to open a drive-thru only location as an example. These types of innovations “prompt us all to challenge our use of space, location and planning foodservice offers and consumer demand,” he said.
In terms of excelling at delivering a memorable customer experience, consumers in Asia, North America, Latin America and the Middle East and Africa say enjoyability and the uniqueness are the top reasons (except for Europe, where consumers cite value) that influence why they choose products and services. “[Consumers] want something enjoyable and unique in these troubled times,” said Dempsey.
On the forecourt, this area is ripe for delivering a memorable experience, where retailers can look at ways to leverage connected vehicle technology as well as attracted longer-dwelling electric vehicle customers by giving them a reason to enjoy their time at a c-store location. For example, treat retail spaces like business class lounges to maximize comfort and offer free Wi-Fi, access to charging ports, and workspaces, said Dempsey.
Circle K Norway
Next, Shop Talk Live participants selected the most memorable store of 2020: Circle K in Bamble, Norway.
With more governments across the globe calling for bans on internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, Circle K is moving in the direction of its consumers by offering more electric vehicle charging at its Bamble location, which opened during the pandemic.
The location is Circle K’s largest facility in Norway and built for the future. Snorre Skeie, network director for the retail chain, noted that as Circle K’s customers change, the company needs to change with them. “This is our first site with the future in mind” where liquid fuel is not the main energy source for powering vehicles, he said, adding that there are 32 Tesla superchargers on the site with room to scale as needed.
Bona Design Lab’s Joseph Bona noted that Circle K’s ability to be on the forefront of electrification has allowed them to capture valuable EV consumer data, including how they plan for trips, behave on forecourt and what their expectations are from the instore experience.
The entire Shop Talk Live webinar series can be viewed at globalconveniencestorefocus.co.uk.