Technology advances continuously. Just when you’ve learned how to use your new smartphone, the next generation device is announced.
Now more than ever, convenience store retailers are using technology to their competitive advantage, which requires keeping up with the latest trends.
To help you, we’ve identified the top five trends in c-store technology for 2015:
1. Data-driven decisions are the new norm
No one is psychic, but having data in real-time is the next best thing. Only through analytics do retailers understand what drives customer behavior or what’s driving their customers away. A flexible platform allows employees to update inventory data, while documenting store conditions and real-time exceptions. More retailers are realizing that better knowledge leads to better decision making.
2. Point-of-sale infrastructure updates
Hill Ferguson, the chief product officer at PayPal, writes that only 2 percent of U.S. retailers have point-of-sale systems that are NFC-enabled (near field communications) and there are 9 million retailers in this country.
There is also a push for U.S. retailers to adopt Europay Mastercard and Visa (EMV), which uses a chip and PIN technology vs. magnetic stripe to authenticate transactions. By October, card networks will pass the risk of fraudulent charges to retailers who have not adopted the new standard.
3. Consumer adoption of mobile payment systems
It’s no surprise that Apple Pay is leading the way, given the Apple brand’s popularity and trust with consumers. The technology is catching on so quickly, in fact, that Chevron USA Inc., is going “all in” and adopting Apple Pay at the pump this year.
Swipe-to-pay is an attractive solution for an industry that targets on-the-go consumers, but the key is getting consumers to make the switch. Look for c-store retailers to offer customers more loyalty incentives to adopt new payment technologies.
4. Mobile consumer engagement: beacon
A beacon is a low-cost piece of hardware that typically attaches to a wall or countertop, and uses Bluetooth connections to transmit messages or prompts directly to a mobile device.
Beacons are useful for indoor spaces where cell phone signals are often blocked and devices are unreachable via GPS. More retail outlets are adopting beacons as a way to provide customers product information, including flash deals or sales.
5. Integrated digital marketing
Content-rich marketing is becoming the new norm, and c-store retailers are seeking creative ideas to make the shopping experience more engaging. In fact, 7-Eleven just hired a new digital marketing agency to drive innovation.
Of course, having a flashy app isn’t the end game of an effective marketing approach. According to Retail Info Systems News, ad campaigns driven by customer data have high click-through rates and nearly 500-percent return on ad spend, according to Justin Honaman, managing partner for CPG and Retail Industry Consulting North America.
We’ve come full circle to data-driven decisions as the No. 1 technology trend in c-stores this year. Good things are bound to happen when retailers combine real-time data analysis and effective marketing campaigns.
Of course, each individual retailer is unique and not every solution works for all retailers. Assess your business’ needs to determine the best tech solutions.