Opinion: How convenience retailing can thrive with technology adoption

This article was written exclusively by Paul Sharpe, General Manager ANZ of FranConnect, for Convenience and Impulse Retailing Magazine.

In today’s fast-paced world, convenience is king. As consumers demand seamless shopping experiences that fit into their busy lives, the convenience retailing sector is now finding itself at the forefront of innovation.

Technology has become the cornerstone of transforming traditional convenience retail operations into efficient powerhouses that cater to modern consumer demands. Let’s consider how convenience retailing businesses can harness the power of technology to streamline their operations and elevate the shopping experience.

Firstly, let’s consider smart inventory management: One of the greatest challenges in convenience retailing is maintaining optimal inventory levels whilst avoiding stock outs or excesses. Technology, in the form of advanced inventory management systems, can provide real-time insights into stock levels, helping retailer owners and franchisors make better, data-driven decisions. Automated reordering systems can trigger replenishment orders as soon as products reach a certain threshold, ensuring shelves are always stocked, and customers are never left disappointed.

The next is data-driven personalisation: Technology such as loyal apps, and the mining of transaction data allows retailers to collect valuable customer insights that can then be used to tailor promotions and offers. By analysing purchasing patterns and preferences, retailers chain owners and franchisors can enhance a shopping experience and better meet the needs of their customers. Alongside this, technology-driven predictive analytics can forecast trends and demand patterns. This enables retailers to plan for seasonal peaks, holidays, and special events with greater accuracy, ensuring they have the right products available at the right time.

Another to consider is IoT-enabled store management: The Internet of Things (IoT) can revolutionise store management by connecting various devices and systems. Smart shelves equipped with sensors can detect when items are running low and notify staff, while energy-efficient lighting and temperature control systems can optimise energy usage.

Workforce and training

Another area of a convenience retail chain business where technology is playing a huge part is streamlining workforce management. Employee scheduling and communication can be streamlined to ensure optimal staffing levels, efficient task assignments, and effective communication between team members. Training, of course, is also a part of this.

To train employees, franchisors can now use digital tools as frontline training solutions. By investing in a learning management system (LMS), businesses can help ensure their employees have the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. Digital tools are a popular and effective way to train frontline employees. Businesses can use online training software to create training programs that are accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. This allows employees to complete training on their own time, which can be especially helpful for those with busy schedules or who work irregular hours.

When it comes to digital training, a mobile-friendly interface is a must. Today, many employees rely on their smartphones or tablets to access information and complete tasks. A mobile-friendly interface can make training more convenient for employees who are always on the go. This means that employees can complete training modules during their commutes, on their lunch break, or whenever they have a spare moment. By making training mobile-friendly, businesses can ensure that employees have access to the information they need, whenever and wherever they need it.

It’s essential to use various content types during the training process. These can include text messages, videos, slideshows, and interactive elements like quizzes or simulations. This variety helps keep employees engaged on their devices and interested in the training.

Additionally, using different types of content can help accommodate different learning styles. For example, some employees prefer to read text-based content, while others find videos or interactive elements more helpful.

Business growth

In terms of opening new convenience stores as part of a franchise or multi-location business, technology can play an important role in managing leads of new locations and ensuring all leads are nurtured. Traditionally this can be quite time-consuming, however now, sales funnels can be fostered with real-time automated follow-up of the prospective franchisee with texts or emails.

Commonly known as ‘scheduling bots’ these A.I. programs immediately engage with prospects and can set quality requirements on diverse leads to segment them into different groups. For example, someone who is looking to open a franchise could be prioritised over someone who is enquiring about a job.

Responses can be integrated with a salesperson’s calendar to ensure meetings happen, and automating rescheduling can be implemented for those times that they don’t.

Supporting plans to grow the business, technology can help multi-location convenience retail business owners by collecting customer insights for a possible expansion. By analysing demographic data and consumer behaviours, decisionmakers can identify the most profitable locations for a new store.

Embracing change and enacting change in a large convenience retail chain can be challenging at first, however with innovation in technology happening at such a fast rate, there is certainly a significant benefit to being one of the first. Let’s get started.

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