We taught my niece how to play hide-and-seek when she was three years old. She hid as well as a grizzly bear in an open field, giggling as she noticeably ducked behind a chair. We played along, counted to 10 and walked around like we couldn’t see or hear her. Then, eventually, we made eye contact and said, “There you are!”
She’s way more adept at the game five years later, but intentionally hiding is not a game that transpires nicely into the real world, especially retail. Unfortunately for our industry, playing hide-and-seek can feel all too familiar when a customer is looking for something that’s sold in your store—and I’m not talking about out-of-stocks.
Lori Stillman, NACS vice president of research and education, stood on stage at the 2022 NACS Show and shared some of her homemade videos of voice searches for products like cigars, coffee and beer. In each instance she was either standing inside her local convenience store or sitting in the parking lot. Search results failed to yield those stores.
This is a problem. Technology makes searching for something you want or need way more sophisticated. Your digital presence needs to be seen and heard, so if your stores are hiding from customers in search results—buried, actually—who are looking for what you sell, then guess where they’re going to go? That’s right, your competitors.
We live in a digital world. Most consumers (97%) rely on digital searches to find a business or a service. By not showing up in a consumer’s searches, convenience stores are losing out on foot traffic and sales. This is where THRIVR comes in.
THRIVR is a new NACS solution that helps convenience retailers build and manage a localized marketing strategy. The goal is to elevate their stores’ online presence when and wherever consumers are searching—including social media channels—and respond to the conversations consumers are having about their brands.
“Online is how customers define convenience,” said Stillman. “They use their smartphones and digital devices to discover what’s out there.”
Whether convenience retailers have one or two stores or 200, coordinating a digital strategy is a massive effort, but without it, “you are missing the opportunity to grow trips and to grow baskets,” Stillman said. “That’s why we’ve launched THRIVR; it’s available to all c-stores, regardless of size, via NACS.”
For over a year we’ve been working to bring this tool to convenience retailers. Initially called Project Search while we were testing mode, we officially launched the program under the THRIVR brand at this year’s NACS Show.
Here’s what Lori said last year about this project: “I think it’s a safe assumption that the path to purchase is significantly more digital today than just a few years ago and is rapidly evolving. That’s why it’s going to be a focus for NACS to help retailers define their offer in the digital space and make sure the next person who searches ‘Where can I get a pint of ice cream and wine’ finds your store.”
Finding the best hiding spot and waiting for the “seeker” to give up means you are awesome at hide-and-seek. As a retailer, though, you should be terrible at hiding, and THRIVR can make sure you are the first to be found next time a customer wants—and needs—to find you.