Convenience stores set sights on speedier service
About 165 million consumers shop in convenience stores daily, and many don't spend more than a few minutes in these locations, making them fertile ground for innovations like cashierless checkout, according to a new report released by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).
The report, based on data collected by public opinion research firm PSB from national surveys earlier this year, showed that 45% of people surveyed entered and left convenience stores with a purchase in hand in under three minutes. A combined average of one minute and three seconds was spent waiting in a checkout line and paying for purchases.
Among shoppers who said they frequently visit convenience stores, about 65% said they would be interested in technologies allowing instant payment and similar capabilities that would allow them to skip checkout lines, while about 44% of all shoppers identified interest in such features, the report stated.
It may not come as a surprise that convenience store shoppers don't spend very long inside stores. The whole concept was designed to cater to those who just need to make a quick stop.
However, it's also a model that could be improved upon by investing more in the customer experience, and in technology that could make these store visits even more convenient. Amazon recognized that and is seeking to redefine the model by creating a cashierless checkout experience. And it's even looking to bring that technology to larger stores, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. Other retailers are devising plans to elevate customer experience expectations on everything from store design to the quality of the food.
According to the report, location was cited as the top convenience of these kinds of stores, considering 93% of Americans live within 10 minutes of a convenience store. Thirty percent of shoppers said that "no lines" is the biggest convenience, and speedy service is another reason behind the concepts popularity. But convenience stores still need to be brought up to date.
Over 30% of those surveyed said they would like to order food and drinks online or through a mobile app for quick pickup in-store, and 31% said they want to have their e-commerce shopping orders delivered to physical stores for easy pick-up. Among various types of retail stores, convenience stores already have the shortest wait time, something the report acknowledged, but in a competitive market, businesses need to keep improving.