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The rise of c-store foodservice business has caused restaurant executives to rethink their strategy as they approach 2020. Convenience is king, and an increasing number of restaurant chains will devote more resources to making the customer experience easy and convenient.

Innovating for speed Grab & go is prized by consumers in this day and age. Foods that are pre-prepared and can be literally snatched up, paid for, and taken out are the most sought-after items at c-stores. The data points to grab & go beverages, bakery items, hotdogs, and prepackaged sandwiches and salads as the those that purchasers look for most at c-stores. Wawa built an empire on hoagies and breakfast sandwiches. Quick, convenient foodservice offerings have formed a strong foundation for some of the top c-store chains, and helped Wawa get to $10B in revenue as a private company, according to Inc. Additionally, c-stores are jumping in on the healthy foods trend that has been sweeping the nation for the last few years. The AlixPartners report states that, between 2017 and 2018, there was a 10 percent increase in the number of respondents who said healthy food choices were “extremely important” for them at c-stores. To avoid loss of customer base, fast-casual restaurants, especially, need to follow c-stores and offer healthy grab & go options that are healthy. and up the convenience factor.

Fostering customer loyalty C-stores have also been taking advantage of their demand and unique environments to drive more sales. One way they do this is through loyalty programs that use technology to incentivize purchasing, such as mobile applications on smartphones where users can simply scan their device to log points that can then be redeemed for free items. AlixPartners reports that millennials are a huge target audience for this marketing since they have both high brand loyalty and technology use. Last year, only nine percent of respondents said they have used mobile technology

Photo by Wawa.

(ordering, payment, etc.) at c-stores, showing that there is still a long way to go before Starbucks-type rewards systems become standard in the industry.

Looking toward the future As the world becomes more and more connected, c-stores face a disadvantage in that they are “old school” when it comes to technology. Eateries like McDonald’s have introduced kiosks that take customers’ orders, eliminating long lines and wait times. By continuing to implement technology like this that gets people in and out quickly, fast-casual restaurants can compete with the convenience of c-stores. Mobile checkout options, and even machine learning capabilities that memorize customers’ preferences to offer customized purchase options when needed, are areas where growth is possible at eateries. Although growth is currently small now, the future for c-stores is bright and filled with a myriad opportunities to innovate and expand. Restaurants still have the upper hand and will be able to provide more foodservice selection and higher quality than their c-store counterparts, but they must also innovate and look ahead to maintain dominance in the food industry in the years ahead. As the rise of c-store foodservice business continues, stocking healthy grab & go food options and implementing mobile checkout technology will be two clear, key ways that restaurants can stay one step ahead. RESTAURANT C-SUITE 37

Profile for Eatery Pulse Media

Restaurant C-Suite Magazine | Spring 2019  

As Restaurant C-Suite Magazine is a trend-based news source, we continue to dive deeper into 2019 trends in this issue, including zero waste...

Restaurant C-Suite Magazine | Spring 2019  

As Restaurant C-Suite Magazine is a trend-based news source, we continue to dive deeper into 2019 trends in this issue, including zero waste...