Each year we visit hundres of convenience stores and we’re seeing similarities in the challenges and opportunities faced by retailers worldwide - however, how they react varies widely.
By understanding global trends in convenience retailing and how retailers are responding through innovation, manufacturers, service providers and retailers can gain inspiration to bring new ways of working to their home region.
Here we list the five trends we see having the biggest impact on convenience retail globally in 2019 and beyond. Full report available to Retail Analysis subscribers, click here for more details.
1. Transformational tech
No matter where you are in the world, convenience stores that utilise technology to develop their supply chain and their proposition to customers will be better equipped to win in the future.
Whether the aim is to improve the speed and efficiency of shopping, enhance shopper engagement or make better use of data to hone the customer proposition, convenience retailers are grasping the new and exciting opportunities offered to them by modern technology.
Examples we are seeing of transformational tech in action include cashless stores, automated kiosks, delivery by robot and interactive in-store digital displays. Many of these are currently only on trial in a handful of sites but we expect to see these becoming used more widely during the year, as well as new tech-based iniatives emerging.
2. Encouraging experimentation
In many markets, the established pillars of convenience stores - tobacco, confectionary and newsprint – are no longer reliable footfall drivers. To fill the gap, retailers are looking to growing categories such as fresh, food-to-go and evening meal solutions, as well as tapping into the increasing spending power of younger shoppers.
Key to success is building shoppers’ awareness and trust whilst reducing the risk of trial so that shoppers feel free to experiment – be that with a new brand, range or choice of store.
Creating the right in-store environment, co-branding products, developing concepts that allow personalisation and premiumising own label ranges are all ways retailers are enticing their shoppers to try something new.
3. Convenience shopping with a conscience
After images of seas full of plastic circulated the globe in 2018, we saw a step-change in consumers’ and businesses’ attitudes to issues affecting our planet.
From sustainability to a wider trend towards more socially conscious ways of doing business, we are seeing an increase in initiatives focussed on caring for the world we live in at both global and local levels. Momentum behind this movement will continue to build during 2019.
4. C-store mission control
Increased use of technology is giving convenience retailers access to a vastly greater pool of data than ever before. Those who use this information to better understand shopper needs are best placed to align their proposition with today’s key shopper missions.
As a result, we’re seeing more niche fascias targeting particular missions, as well as clearer in-store zoning to guide shoppers quickly to the products they want. And whilst ‘top-up’ remains important, the move to online means retailers need to give the shopper new reasons to visit their stores. Here we are seeing convenience stores transform into food-to-go hubs and leisure mission destinations. We expect these mission targeted formats become even more sophisticated in the coming year.
5. Partnership potential
Keeping up with the rapid pace of change in the convenience retail landscape is a challenge for retailers across all regions. Increasingly, businesses are working together to access new markets or locations, attract new shoppers to stores and grow new category sales - at speed.
While partnerships may take many forms, the right choice of partner is key to success. We have already seen convenience stores team up with manufacturers, food-to-go specialists, discounters and service providers, but we expect to see more new and surprising partnerships emerge during the year.
Want to know more?
To see more examples of how retailers are responding to the challenges and opportunities in the convenience channel, visit our convenience hub page on Retail Analysis.
Don't miss our exciting new event, IGDLive, to hear from leading retailers and suppliers shaping the future of UK convenience retail.
IGD Live 2019
6-7 November, London
Early bird offer! IGD Live combines our channel events under one roof, giving delegates the opportunity to attend a channel specific area, or to create their own bespoke programme.
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