Electric vehicle EV
One of seven recent disruptors in convenience retail, the EV market is growing faster than ever.

Industry disruptors affect everyone, from huge conglomerates to single-store operations. The question is not if a disruption will impact your company, but when. And while they are by nature off the radar, there are some common disruptors that have cropped up in the last year or so that you can watch out for, and perhaps even mitigate with the right intelligence and tools.

Dollar Stores

While fuel retailers lost 1,700 units last year, dollar stores added 2,300 sites, and by 2021, it’s estimated there will be somewhere around 38,000 dollar stores in existence. The good news: they don’t sell gas, complex foods, and beer. The bad news: the sale of these items at dollar stores is likely on the horizon. And with a business model based on saturation of target demographics, that could be very bad news for convenience retailers. Some legislation is currently popping up that limits the number of dollar stores in certain areas and prevents saturation, but even with that, dollar stores have convenience retail in their sights, and they are not going to become any less relentless in their pursuit of market share.

CBD Products

CBD products are infiltrating our inventory – 50% of convenience stores are currently carrying CBD products – and it’s not going to go away anytime soon. CBD sales increased 45% in 2018, and while the regulatory future for CBD remains uncertain, one thing is for sure: the global CBD market in general is skyrocketing. Avoid this bandwagon at your own risk.

EV and PHEV

If you’re not plugged in to this disruptive trend, you might want to switch gears now. EV vehicle production increased 80.8% in 2018, and though most analysts did expect growth, it’s happening a little faster than everyone predicted.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the number of EVs produced internationally passed the 5 million mark in 2018. Around 45% of those EVs hit the road in China. Europe and the US, while adding to the increase, are still far behind China, with 24% and 22% of total EVs respectively. And while the number of charging points worldwide was estimated to exceed the 5-million mark in 2018, IEA estimates that 90% of that growth (accounting for 1.6 installations last year) was in private charging points. This may represent a massive lost opportunity on the part of C-stores – most of which are loaded with products that EV drivers might consume as they wait for their cars to charge.

Quick Food

Although foodservice in general is not really a disruptor, the rate at which Millennials consume quick food is. Millennials are buying more food in your store than ever. According to a 2019 GasBuddy survey, 43% of Millennials purchase more food from C-stores today than three years ago. Additionally, 20% of Americans aged 18-29 are spending $10-$15 per week on C-store foodservice. And while Millennials do express concerns about a lack of healthy options in convenience retail, C-stores in the EMEA and APAC are not only making healthy options a priority, they’re stocking snacks that satisfy vegans and vegetarians. Bonus: Get them in and out of your store quickly, and you might even get a Like.

Amazon Go

With just a phone, an app, and an Amazon account, consumers will soon be able to walk into a store, purchase groceries, and walk out the door, skipping the checkout line altogether.

The cashier-less grocery store may seem like a novelty now, but Amazon states that it expects to build 3,000 Amazon Go sites by 2021. In addition to offering line-free checkout, Amazon also expects to be able to provide consumers with 2-hour grocery delivery in the near future.

TNC

In 2017, TNCs, or Transportation Network Companies, had an estimated global market size of USD $6.68 billion. Furthermore, Reuters reported in early 2019 that ridesharing is expected to grow at a rate of more than 20% from 2019-2025. Why is this important to global convenience retailers? Because TNCs are revolutionizing more than transportation – they’re changing the dynamic for food delivery in general. Customers are having meals, including quick-service food items, dashed to their door faster than they could load the kids in the car and swing by your C-store kitchen.

And we’re not even going to talk about TNC and logistics – yet.

Last Mile

Riding (so to speak) on the coattails of TNC is last mile delivery. “Last mile” refers to the final leg in the supply chain, when a product reaches the consumer. It is typically the least efficient link in the chain, but a change is occurring world-wide with the evolution of last mile networks. While ride sharing is stepping in to fill the last mile gap, many more manual delivery methods, including bike sharing and even electric kick scooter couriers in Europe and Asia, are making thousands of on-time deliveries. According to Mize, Last Mile represents one of the biggest threats – or potentially one of the biggest opportunities – to the convenience retail industry.

What Does It Mean?

As fewer bodies pass through our doors, what can retailers do to attract and retain customers and maximize margins? Here are a few suggestions:

  • First, make sure you have the right products in the store to keep customers coming in.
  • Second, consider investing in a loyalty program that will help enhance the consumer experience and increase in-store spend per visit.
  • Third, make sure your company is retaining top talent by offering perks like flexible scheduling and rewarding individual contributions. And consider adding just-right scheduling tools to help control your labor costs.
  • Fourth, take your foodservice program to the next level by stocking up with healthy grab-and-go items that appeal to Millennials.
  • Fifth, use data science to optimize your fuel pricing strategy, whether it’s based on volume, margin or market position.

Of course, the list could go on, but here’s the takeaway. The key to thriving amid current and future disruptors is to embrace digital transformation and use technology to achieve your goals and continually improve every part of your business.

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