ALEXANDRIA, Va.—A recent Conexxus paper asks a vital question for convenience retailers: Do you have a digital presence? If your customers can’t find you online, they’ll likely shop elsewhere.
Consumers are more intentional with their shopping occasions, and they are less likely to drive around looking for what they want. Shoppers are relying on search functions to find the nearest car wash, EV charging station, convenience store that sells diesel fuel or mint chocolate chip ice cream via their mobile device or through their vehicle’s navigation system.
Lori Buss Stillman, NACS vice president of research, notes in the paper that search by voice made up 50% of all searches in 2020, according to Alphametrics. The data also suggests that 1 in 5 voice search queries use a combination of only 25 keywords, and most are modifiers that imply a question: who, what, where, how, does, etc.
"Mastering how our offers are connected to those keywords is one essential step in winning search,” said Stillman, adding that search options for ordering ahead, curbside pickup and delivery skyrocketed in 2020.
Kay Segal, founder and managing partner of The Business Accelerator Team, told Conexxus that consumers will search before and during their path to purchase. “Managing online attributes and reputation must be incorporated into brand standards and processes. Retailers must exist on all major online platforms,” she said.
Voice search optimization, or VSO, can help retailers remain competitive. For example, Segal notes that a retail establishment must cite all site attributes, such as car wash, gas, diesel, propane and food in detail so retailers can gain control over their listings. “This plays into using specific words and phrases so when someone is using voice search, the location is identified,” she said.
Stillman shared that voice-assisted technologies could also help shoppers find what they want and when they want it even faster.
“At present, 40 million Americans own a smart speaker, and it is expected that 55% of all U.S. households will own at least one speaker by the end of 2022. At last count, our home has more than 10, when we include our vehicles, making this capability now a part of our daily routine.”
As shopper behaviors continue to change, it’s important that retailers pay attention to which of these new habits has the potential to redefine convenience. John Nelson, CEO of Vroom Delivery, suggested that retailers look ahead to find best the frictionless path, adding, “Don’t be out-convenienced.”
To access more insights from Conexxus, visit conexxus.org. This year Conexxus launched a new education subscription service to share the latest convenience retail hot topics. This platform provides live weekly and on-demand content. To sign up, visit conexxus365.org.