4 Convenience Store Trends To Increase Sales & Profitability in 2024
Do you want to be ahead of the pack or behind the times? You have a choice. And right now, convenience stores have an opportunity.
Emerging trends will always affect how businesses run. Some of these trends are more important than others, and can have a significant impact on the sales and profitability of your store.
But the opportunity lies in how customer-centric you can be. Your convenience store will always be busy if you focus on the changing needs of customers and implement initiatives that keep them coming back.
In this blog post, we'll explore four of the most important convenience store trends for 2024 and how your convenience store point of sale (POS) system can help you bring them to life.
Keep in mind that this is not a comprehensive list, but it should give you a good idea of what to expect in the coming years.
4 Convenience Store Trends To Pay Attention to in 2024
Why is it important to keep up with convenience store trends? First, it can help you differentiate yourself from other convenience stores in your area. If you have a competitor or two near you, sticking out in a positive way is a competitive advantage.
Plus, convenience store trends can help you run a more streamlined business, open up new revenue opportunities, and increase customer satisfaction.
The risk of not innovating and paying attention to industry trends? You become a convenience store people only go to if they happen to pass by, rather than becoming the convenience store of choice in your area.
But, much like fashion trends are appealing to certain tastes, it’s important to jump on trends that match your store’s brand and goals. Keep that in mind as we discuss the following four convenience store trends.
1. Focus on the Consumer Experience
Convenience is paramount for stores that require shoppers to pop in and out quickly. Without the ability to easily get the things they need and be on their way, customers will drive by instead of stopping in. After all, “convenience” is in the name.
The pandemic in 2020 forced many retailers, including convenience store owners, to update their business models. Due to the resulting lockdowns, consumers were inundated with new online ordering, delivery, and curbside pickup options.
They shifted from longer in-store shopping times to quick in-and-out trips to limit exposure. Now, customers expect the buying experience at any store to be quick and optimized to help them get what they need and move on with their day.
Here are a few ideas for enhancing your consumer experience in 2024:
Store layout and product mix
Your store layout should be optimized for both consumer speed and to expose them to as many of your products as possible. For example, high-traffic items and drink coolers should be on the back walls. End caps are perfect for seasonal items, and routine daily-need items should be closer to the front wall and checkout counter.
Prepared and ready-to-go food and beverages ideal for on-the-go shopping
Do you consider your convenience store a food and beverage destination?
Imagine a consumer who comes to your store in the morning to fill up for gas. They might then go to a separate store for coffee, and then run out to a quick-service restaurant (QSR) for lunch.
But what if you could capture the coffee and lunch revenue when they come in for gas?
Items like breakfast sandwiches, premium coffee drinks, sandwiches, and wraps made in store with premium ingredients are all opportunities. But you don’t have to make them in store. Partnerships with local restaurants can be just as fruitful of an idea.
Easy ordering and payment capabilities
If you’re not considering this trend, keep in mind that your competitors likely are. The 2021 NACS “Pulse” survey of convenience store retailers found that 41 percent said they would offer frictionless or cashierless checkout in 2022. Another 30 percent said they would offer app-based ordering and payment in 2022.
The pandemic accelerated the growth and adoption of frictionless checkout and app-based ordering and payment out of necessity for public safety. E-commerce stores and apps for buy online, pickup instore (BOPIS)-style purchasing are becoming the norm across retail segments, including convenience stores.
2. Embrace Better Health and Sustainability
Younger customers and health-conscious people are becoming increasingly concerned about improving their health — and they need to be catered to.
This means expanding your snack and beverage options to include better-for-you options with packaging claims like:
“Local” and “sustainable” meat and fish products are also big with consumers. Fewer and fewer people want to consume meat from a mystery source. This could be an opportunity to strike up a partnership with local producers to offer their premium products in your store.
These customers are concerned about the environment, too; a 2020 McKinsey study found that over half of American consumers are highly concerned about the environmental impact of packaging waste.
More specifically, the concern about the impact of single-use plastics on the environment is growing. Over the course of the last two years, numerous large-name food and beverage producers have committed to reducing their use of single-use plastics.
For example, Nestle S.A, the world’s largest food manufacturer, is investing $2 billion to accelerate the development of sustainable packaging solutions.
But those are large corporate companies. What can local convenience stores do to act in a sustainable way?
- Create incentives for shoppers to be more sustainable by encouraging reusable and recyclable bags
- Refillable/reusable beverage containers
- Offer paper straws for beverages
- Discuss green packing with suppliers
3. Explore Omnichannel Shopping
Convenience is no longer just about being closest to someone or on their way home from work. It’s about being able to reach customers where they are with personalized offers.
Another result of the pandemic is that consumers want the same buying experience whether they’re in store, using an app, or online. Plus, over half of American consumers (52 percent) expect offers they receive to be personalized.
Omnichannel shopping is an effort to provide a consistent customer experience across all possible touchpoints. So what can omnichannel shopping look like for convenience stores?
Offering the full in-store experience digitally
- Online ordering of the full inventory with categories and a search bar to quickly find what they’re looking for.
- Sending promotions via email, text, app, or on your website.
- Age restriction features for tobacco, alcohol, and other age-restricted items.
- Using your point of sale (POS) system data to segment customers and create specific promotions.
- Using customer purchase data to create personalized recommendations.
- Loyalty or rewards points are consistent across in-store and digital interactions.
4. Customer Service Is Crucial
Although online shopping continues to grow in popularity, shoppers still expect excellent and friendly service when they physically visit your convenience store.
Returning customers spend an average of 33 percent more per order as compared to other customers. A key to getting customers to return is by delighting them when they’re in store.
One part of this is a personalized buying experience, which we’ve already covered. The other half of the equation is their interactions with your staff and store.
This may sound basic, but greeting people as they walk into the store, being friendly with customers, clean stores, and fresh produce go a long way. Consumers may favor quick in-and-out trips, but they still want the physical environment to be pleasing.
Make the Most out of Convenience Store Trends With a Modern POS System
Knowing trends is one thing. It’s another thing to take advantage of them to increase sales and profitability.
Modern POS systems offer the capabilities to provide a personalized experience and improve customer service and checkout processes.
POS Nation offers point of sale solutions that can easily handle any convenience store needs. Our software includes options for easy dual pricing, inventory management, customer loyalty programs, and so much more.
Check out our Convenience Store Point of Sale Buyers’ Guide to see the key features you need in a POS system. You can also schedule a demo with a product specialist to see our POS software in action for yourself.