How to Appear in Digital Search Results

97% of consumers rely on digital searches to find a business or a service, and NACS found that the industry’s digital search presence was lagging.

October 27, 2022

By Sara Counihan

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The convenience store “search” model has long been someone drives by, goes inside and gets what they want. But things have dramatically changed with digital assistance. Now, people find c-stores in totally different way—97% of consumers rely on digital searches to find a business or a service.

Lori Stillman, NACS vice president of research, explains on this week’s NACS Convenience Matters podcast episode how the convenience industry was behind its competitors in digital search.

“It dawned on us that the convenience store offer has evolved to the point that shoppers today might not know all of the solutions that we now provide for them,” said Stillman. When the research team realized this, she said they actually pulled out their smartphones and began to search for common convenience store offerings such as the nearest ice machine, propane tank exchange and even coffee.

“We were dumbfounded that in every one of those searches, convenience stores were not showing up in the results that were being returned,” she said. “It just shows that the offer hasn’t been connected to how customers are now searching, and perhaps even more importantly, discovering what opportunities exist for them to meet their needs in today’s retail landscape.”

Stillman says that in order for c-stores to show up in search results, they must have a Google listing and claim it for every single location, and they need to have a separate Facebook listing for every store location. That is a huge lift, said Stillman, so NACS built a solution called THRIVR, which allows c-stores to put all these localized marketing efforts on a single dashboard so that you can manage listings accuracy.

“It’s a one and done tact versus having to go to each individual page reversely,” said Stillman.

THRIVR also enables retailers to deliver messages or promotions that are unique to a set of stores to these platforms, and it allows them to build those groups and clusters and be able to manage that content in a much more efficient way.

THRIVR has partnered with SOCi, which is a premier localized marketing platform firm, according to Stillman, and they usually don’t work with stores with fewer than 50 locations. But in the convenience retailing industry there are over 90,000 single-store operators.

“We sat down with an associate and said, ‘What would it take for us to be able to white label your platform, bring all of the same capabilities that someone with 50 or more stores could license directly and make that available to the industry?’” said Stillman. “And so that’s what we built, and we’ve partnered with them … NACS has taken on the investment required to enable any operator, whether they have one location or 20 or 500 to be able to have the same capabilities to be able to manage search.”

Don’t miss this week’s Convenience Matters podcast episode No. 359 “Why Your Digital Presence Matters” to hear more about THRIVR and how it can bring your stores into the digital landscape in a compelling way that matters to your shoppers.

Here’s where you can learn more about THRIVR.

Sara Counihan is contributing editor of NACS Daily and NACS Magazine. She can be reached at