Focus on the 2018 Foodservice Trends That Are Within Reach

By Cassie Ebinger

Convenience

It’s time for convenience stores to become operationally self-aware. What changes can be made in this year to execute better at the store level? Can any of these changes be implemented in Q2? At least two of them can.

In a recent interview with Convenience Store News, Howland Blackiston, principal with restaurant and retail consultancy King-Casey, made several data-based predictions for 2018. Some of Blackiston’s predictions are more applicable to the whole industry than others. For instance, he predicts that more than half of brands will offer digital and delivery options by 2023. While every brand should be investing digitally, delivery might not be as relevant for c-stores in rural states. Also, the prediction that c-store drive-thrus will see growth next year won’t apply to companies that aren’t investing in a proper strategy.

However, two of Blackiston’s predictions stood out as areas all convenience store brands should be honing in on in 2018, and it’s likely they have been looking at different approaches. Current foodservice sales, which account for 16% of total sales, are growing at twice the rate of all other sales, and many c-stores will see more than half of sales come from foodservice offerings. Also, brands that find ways to attract more female customers will grow their business by double-digits, he predicts.

“Changes are needed because female expectations are higher than those of men,” Blackiston told CSNews. “You need to move the ‘NASCAR mentality’ to one that’s gender-neutral by projecting ‘safer,’ ‘cleaner,’ ‘child-friendly’ vibes. Consider décor and product offerings with the female demographic in mind, including ‘better-for-you’ food options.”

Expanding kitchens, hiring more foodservice staff and changing décor are all excellent suggestions for 2018, but they don’t address underlying operational inefficiencies. Convenience stores who want to achieve next-level sales will need to improve communication and store-level execution through real-time technologies.

Is investing in consumer-facing mobile technology (social media, apps, rewards programs, etc.) important for the growth of your brand? If you answered “yes,” then also realize that there is a significant opportunity to invest in employee-facing mobile technology at the store-level.

Want to make your menu items more appetizing? Want to know which stores aren’t cleaning up their act? Obtaining this information in one central location—and more importantly acting on the information—is now possible through mobile technology and software by Zenput.

Know what’s happening in your stores in real-time, be able to respond to problems as they arise and assign follow-up tasks, and keep your employees accountable while engaging them in the process. Overall, resolve to raise the bar on operations in 2018. Learn how Zenput can help by scheduling a demo today.

Also, check out our 3-part blog series about what convenience store, restaurant and retail operators should consider when planning for the New Year:

  1. Incorporating Mobile Devices Into Your Operations
  2. Say Goodbye to Paper Forms
  3. Empowering Employees with Mobile Technology

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