In today’s society, convenience stores have taken on a whole new meaning. Gone are the days where customers stop in for a quick candy bar and a soda. Now customers are demanding more. They want better (and often more sophisticated) choices that fit their lifestyle — with the utmost convenience.
C-stores are rising to meet buyer expectations, and it’s paying off. Last year, c-stores experienced record in-store sales to the tune of $654.3 billion. Considering the revenue potential, it’s worth cashing in on some of the latest in convenience trends. Let’s take a look at some of this year’s most popular.
Consumers today have an on-the-go lifestyle, and they want their meals to match it. And since snacks are convenient and easily transportable, consumers are increasingly choosing snacks as their meals. But, they don’t want any old pre-packaged snacks. Since 49% of consumers think snacks are an important part of a healthy eating plan, their snack standards are higher. From refrigerated and fresh superfoods to all-day breakfast, consumers are in search of c-stores with best-in-class snacks at their disposal.
Consumers don’t just want fresh snacks fast, they want them made their way. C-stores are taking note and adding made-to-order options to the menu. This level of customization is compelling to customers for more than one reason. For starters, it enhances the in-store experience (and elevate a c-store’s brand). And since it conveys quality and freshness, customers are willing to pay a premium for it. The catch? To make this trend worthwhile, c-stores need to customize quickly to keep profit margins up and wait times down. Fortunately, innovative equipment like Ovention’s Shuttle® 2000 oven makes made-to-order easy with its customizable settings and dual capabilities. It has a “shuttle mode” that allows for temperature, time and blower speed customization and a “conveyor mode” that maximizes throughput.
Across the board, global-inspired foods are in demand, and c-stores are no exception. C-store shoppers today — especially the younger crowd — are more adventurous in their eating habits. They’re looking beyond the standard c-store staples, in hopes of multicultural menu options. The good news? When it comes to global grub, there’s a wide variety of on-the-go options, such as empanadas and sushi. Not only does this make eating easier for on-the-move consumers, but it also makes offering global options realistic for c-stores.
Loyalty programs are a win-win for c-stores and customers alike, so it’s no surprise they’re popular. Reward incentives save customers money, which keeps them coming back. As evidence of that, 43% of shoppers visit c-stores because they belong to the retailer’s loyalty program. Of course, this means increased revenue for c-stores, but that’s not the only upside. Loyalty programs also provide retailers with valuable customer data. Using those insights, c-stores can optimize their product offerings and create more personalized and compelling experiences for customers.
Last but not least, today’s c-store customers want what they want — fast. As more businesses add self-checkout services, c-stores are catching on to the trend. Of anywhere, customers expect a quick and convenient shopping experience at c-stores, and self-checkout facilitates this. It cuts long lines and wait times for customers, improving the in-store experience. At the same time, it cuts back on labor costs, so it’s a worthwhile investment that will pay off in the long run.
Keep an eye on emerging innovations.
The c-store industry has turned into an innovation playground, but it’s not just fun and games. If retailers take advantage of innovations that improve service and convenience, they can seriously maximize sales and increase customer loyalty.
Now that you’re caught up on the trends, check out these can’t-miss c-store innovations that can help you deliver a premium c-store experience.
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