X Convenience is a family-owned and operated banner that launched five years ago in Adelaide and has been enjoying significant growth ever since.

The banner, which currently has 30 sites operational across South Australia is in a period of growth, with four new sites set to open before Christmas and another 37 earmarked for opening beyond that across regional SA and interstate.

Martin Gleeson, General Manager Retail, X Convenience, told C&I that the banner group was initially created to provide a distinction between their group of service stations and the rest of the competition within Adelaide.

“We wanted a point of difference so that when you entered an X Convenience site you knew that the level of service, range and cleanliness would be to the highest standard,” he said.

Under the X Convenience brand there are four store-in-store concepts; Coffee Station, Smokes Express, Burger X, and Down Dog.

Coffee Station sells barista coffees and daily fresh offers of cakes, sandwiches, baguettes and focaccias.

“The sandwiches, baguettes, focaccias and salads are made daily in our very own kitchen and then delivered fresh to the sites in our refrigerated vans,” says Gleeson.

Smokes Express is a tobacconist, while Burger X is a fast food burger offer, currently operational at two X Convenience sites, and Down Dog sells steamed hotdogs in fresh buns and is currently operating at more than seven sites.

The flagship site

X Convenience on Anzac Highway in Plympton, SA opened in 2017 as the flagship for the banner.

The site is one of two that features a Burger X within the shop and it also includes a mezzanine level for in-store dining.

“At Christmas time we set up a huge Christmas display within the shop so that children can post their letters to Santa,” says Gleeson.

The Anzac Highway site offers in-store, take away and on demand dining experiences in its modern facility, and it also boasts some of the most competitive fuel pricing in the area.

“Most c-stores try to get the customer in and out as quick as possible – we want to encourage our customers to stay as long as they want and have designed the store to meet those needs.

“We wanted to show the industry that you don’t need the standard cookie cutter service station model to make it work. We provided a space where our customers could spend time in the store and feel like they were in their local café and they could catch up with friends for a coffee or a burger as this location saw the introduction of our Burger X concept.”

Gleeson explains that X Convenience sets out to achieve a five-star experience without shoppers having to pay a five-star price.

Overcoming the challenges of 2020

While 2020 has brought with it all kinds of unprecedented challenges, for X Convenience it also gave the opportunity to focus on creating a new revenue stream through click and collect and delivery.

“We have created a strong social media base and we can achieve high results through our promotions using this platform,” says Gleeson.

“We’ve also ramped up click and collect and delivery services. We’ve increased sales and created new profit streams through Uber Eats grocery and X Desserts,” he said.

The X Desserts offering delivers restaurant quality desserts straight to people at their homes and is currently available through 13 X Convenience sites.

“People still want to indulge from time to time and feel a little special and our X Desserts really fills that gap.”

Gleeson said that when COVID-19 hit, there was the initial challenge of putting COVID safety plans in place in a short amount of time, and the priority was on keeping staff, customers and suppliers safe. But once these systems were put in place, the focus shifted back to continuing on their growth trajectory.

“We wanted to make sure that we didn’t get distracted by COVID – we are on a great path and want that to continue,” he said.

“With the help of our local councils and the local government we implemented COVID-19 plans into our stores and created safe work environments.

“We have a great team who are all focused on creating the best environment at site and working around the clock to ensure new store rollouts are happening on time and as smooth as they can be.”

That strong level of commitment and focus has led to 12 new store openings in 2020.

Looking to the future, Gleeson says that X Convenience will perfect its drive-through model, which will require updating of behind the counter flows and staffing to accommodate the demand.

It will also launch a Pay Pump App, and Gleeson says: “The trick is to ensure it is a marketing and promotions tool that enables pay at pump or pay in-store. This way you can still drive instore sales.

“Stores are becoming more and more complex so the use of technology to automate as many tasks as possible is a must.”

This article originally appeared in the December / January issue of C&I Retailing Magazine, which can be read in full here.

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