The future is automated for c-stores

futurThe future for convenience stores is tech-focussed, customised and environmentally sustainable according to research group Nielsen.

Releasing a summary of their top seven predictions earlier this month, Neilsen’s SVP of retail and US industry relations Jeff Williams has set out the seven trends he believes will shape the industry’s future.

Among his top picks is the move towards fully automated stores and a greater take up of frictionless payments. Pointing to China as an example, Mr Williams said options such as ordering and paying for services such as coffee through online platforms like WeChat (including customised options such as desired temperature), will become more mainstream.

Excitingly for consumers, he is also predicting we could soon see the ability for customers to order retail items to be delivered to their car as they refuel.

Food options also look set for an upgrade, as customer demand for high-quality, convenient read-to-go options increases. Food packaging will also become more sustainable, in line with the growing environmental awareness among consumers. Predicted trends include a continue move away from single use packaging, non-plastics and better waste management.

Customisation will also be key to the success of retailers, Mr Williams said, with those able to anticipate customer needs and catering to day part needs, as well as those offering advanced loyalty programs to be in a better position.

Stores will also need to become much more than a point of sale for customers, who are increasingly seeking multifaceted experiences to draw them into stores. Among the predicted trends, Mr Williams cites a move towards adding seating to consume purchased meals in store, more and better quality coffee options, and niche food offerings. As well as embracing the trend to electric cars, with an increased demand for charging stations expected (in the US).

Other trends expected include more focussed employee training (specifically around CBD products in US states where this is legal) and in fresh food services, as well as issues in private label disruption.

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