A Matter of Convenience
Blog written by Darren Cremins
In the wake of the recent takeover of UK convenience chain McColls by grocer Morrisons, there has been a lot of media coverage on the pressures faced by convenience retailers, as well as the potential opportunities for smaller retailers serving local shoppers.
Expert opinion seems to be that many factors played into the closure of McColls and that the convenience market, much like grocery, is likely to face a lot of challenges this year with supply chain issues, inflation and the rising cost of living impacting trade and customer behavior.
However, there is also great opportunity with the local focus of convenience stores. Serving their neighbors and building relationships with those that shop the brand regularly, convenience retail brands have the potential to excel in customer service, deepen loyalty and build a reliable customer base.
Of course I’d say this, but digital signage offers a flexible way for brands to demonstrate their commitment to local. Digital signage can be used to show promotions that will resonate most strongly with the local community or even to highlight the achievements of community groups such as schools or sports teams. Automation means that name dropping, down to the specific street can be used to create compelling locally-focussed advertising.
Digital signage and digital menu boards can also give convenience stores a way to generate income with screen space used for third party promotions. Retailers can charge brands to advertise their ranges within the store, or perhaps to advertise other businesses nearby or national brands such as holiday suppliers or banks.
Another way that convenience stores are diversifying is by adding a food-to-go option to their offering. The range of products may not be quite as vast as what is available in the US, but many UK newsagents and forecourts are adding food-to-go, with the sector predicted to be worth £22.6bn by 2024.
In the US — particularly in fan-favorite regional brands like Wawa, United Dairy Farmers and Sheetz — convenience stores aren’t used simply because of convenience. These are brands that have upped the ante on service, with large-format digital menu boards competing with the types found in a busy QSR. Digital signs entice shoppers to the high-margin hot beverage area, and self-service kiosks help brands solve labor challenges. Loyal customers are increasingly abandoning the drive thru in favor of convenience store meals
Our latest white paper looks at the opportunities for convenience stores as well as grocers to introduce food-to-go sales and the way that digital signage, namely digital menu boards, can be best used in store premises. Food-to-go certainly isn’t the silver bullet. For some retailers, the footprint and logistic challenges of making food-to-go an in-store option will be too prohibitive. As customer needs change, offering food could offer an opportunity for retailers to entice shoppers and increase sales.
Whatever routes convenience retailers explore to deepen their connection with customers and offer more than their competition, Scala solutions can help with versatile digital signage, analytic tools and flexible software. Do take a look at the case studies on our site as well as our most recent white paper and get in touch if you’d like to learn more.