What shoppers are looking for when they step foot in a convenience store is in the name: convenience.
They’re looking for an easy, quick experience – whether that’s filling up their tank, grabbing a few items they need, or both. As the COVID-19 pandemic has proven, customers value simple, contactless transactions and minimizing time spent waiting. If shoppers head into a store and see a long line, they will purposely avoid it and go elsewhere. The point of sale serves as the very last hurdle between shoppers getting what they need and continuing on with their day, and retailers must find a way to alleviate it.
The C-Store Evolves
The challenge of managing the point of sale has been made even more difficult as the convenience store evolves into much more than a pitstop. Retailers are finding they need innovative solutions that drive loyalty and the shopper experience, through payments at the pump, prepared foods and quick service restaurant options. In fact, a 2018 National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) survey found that food services sales now account for 23% of sales at convenience stores. Retailers have a great opportunity to meet this demand and generate increased revenue from fuel customers in their stores.
Mobile Devices to Eliminate Lines
The ubiquity of mobile phones has paved the way for innovation around how consumers shop and pay for items. With mobile devices, a new level of self-service has arisen where shoppers can easily scan and pay for their items – all without having to stand in a line. In addition, associates equipped with devices can process transactions from anywhere in the store.
As convenience stores add additional service areas to their stores, like coffee stations or breakfast taco bars, mobile ordering allows shoppers to request their items and pay before they even set foot in the door, eliminating any hesitations about wait time – and increasing sales. The use of mobile devices also bridges the digital and physical experience as retailers leverage customer information to drive loyalty through coupons, rewards and personalized offers and text messages.
Frictionless Checkout at the Pump
Another important aspect to the point of sale and checkout process is at the pump. For retailers, flexibility, security and speed is essential to always meet the needs of customers on the bleeding edge of innovation – whether that’s electric charging, hydrogen vehicles, or the next invention we haven’t even imagined yet.
Recently, the rise of connected vehicles - cars equipped with Internet access – has paved the way for a greater level of frictionless checkout. Shoppers can now order and pay from the comfort of their car. This ease of service can also help convert traditionally fuel-only customers, adding to a retailers’ bottom line. However, retailers must be prepared to serve these areas, otherwise they’ll lose valuable customers and revenue.
Realize the Power of the Point of Sale
As consumers expect an increasingly quick and painless store visit, implementing frictionless checkout at any part of the store provides a competitive advantage over other retailers. Your competitors are starting to catch on, too: 7-Eleven recently made headlines by piloting a cashierless store format similar to Amazon Go. If removing friction and speeding up the checkout process is the goal for improving the customer experience, the point of sale is the place to start.
Michael Jaszczyk is CEO of GK Software USA