Trends Shaping the Convenience Industry

healthy food and snack in c-store
Source: CSNews

Success in business hinges on one important question: what will your consumers want next? Throughout our lives, we’re observing and participating in trends. The macro trends Harbor is seeing take off in the retail world now hold true for convenience stores, and they are about to undergo some big changes. From smaller stores focused on healthy snacks to in-store pickup and artificial intelligence advertising, the landscape of convenience retail is being reshaped directly by consumer needs.

Based on our experience working with retail industry leaders, Here are three key trends we expect to shape the convenience industry in 2017.

Fresh and Convenient Food on the Road

Some future leaning c-stores are moving the focus from the roller grill or bakery case to fresh, local produce and independently-owned restaurants. Tiger Fuel Co., The Market at Bellair and Parkers in Savannah are a few notable examples.

Without being able to set up a kitchen in a c-store, other options abound. Many owners, such as Liberty Gas/Thai Pan and BFresh, are turning to local produce delivery or catering services as well as outdoor food trucks to serve the growing demand.

Driving Less and Clicking More

Everywhere except c-stores, footprints are statistically getting smaller, and every new concept is looking for ways to increase traffic. As mobile shopping continues to be on the rise, the trend of mobile-driven click-and-ship is growing throughout the c-store world. Standouts to us in this space are the Flirty/7Eleven relationship, Shipt & Meijer, Walmart Pickup with fuel and GoPuff.

With delivery windows shrinking, start-ups and established retailers alike are taking increasing advantage of packaging immediately and directly delivering to consumers at their convenience.

AI Replacing Databases

When people ask Alexa to turn on the living room lights, the Internet of Things becomes less futuristic and more ubiquitous. C-stores now have a new opportunity to win customers before they even think to stop in a store. Car manufacturers have noticed and are responding. Best in class examples we have seen are Jaguar/Shell, GM/IBM’s Watson and Groceries by MasterCard/Samsung. These smart devices can recommend locations or simply pick them without any consultation. So the new question is: How do you market to an inanimate object?

These trends are what will shape the future of the industry, and convenience retailers can now react and innovate quickly. C-store owners need to see the changing landscape and become problem solvers—not just product sellers. These trends are already changing how future c-stores are being designed, and Harbor is already being called into action.

 

Article Credit(s): Harbor Industries, CSP Daily