Convenience stores (C-stores) have always held space in retail, but today’s convenience store is almost nothing like its predecessors. A place that was once known for questionable hot dogs, 32-ounce cups of soda, and burned coffee is now a leader in delivering the experiences sought after by today’s consumers.
How C-Stores Met Consumer Need During the Pandemic
Throughout the pandemic, the convenience store became a source of connection. C-stores are local; the people who work in them are often the familiar faces of neighbors. C-stores became even more important during the pandemic because of several things:
- They are neighborhood stores. Conveniently located, C-stores kept people from having to wander too far from home or step foot inside large, crowded supermarkets.
- They carry all the basics, from hot dogs, soda, and coffee to toilet paper and other essentials.
- C-store chains operate with a relatively low overhead, and because they are located within neighborhoods, with their pulse on local needs, they’ve been able to quickly respond to the changing demands of their local consumers.
C-Store Success Stores
C-stores are everywhere, in every neighborhood. The design, story, and experience of the new C-store is elevating the industry and bringing dignity back to a commodity. It’s no longer just a place to shop because it’s convenient – it’s a place that consumers are choosing to go.
C-Store Success Stores
7-Eleven is transforming their locations from simple convenience stores to neighborhood experiences. Locations around the country are offering restaurant experiences with Raise the Roost® Chicken and Biscuits or Parlor Pizza restaurants. The newest location in Manassas, Virginia has both. In addition, certain 7-Eleven locations feature customized drinks, wine cellars, and a store brand called Sips + Snacks.
7-Eleven Executive Vice President and COO Chris Tanco said in a recent press release, “Today’s opportunity is in the QSR space, and we are responding by aggressively rolling out our restaurants across the country – both in Evolution Stores and beyond. Our plan is to open nearly 150 restaurants in 2021.”
7-Eleven is betting on the C-store evolution in a serious way, having just completed the purchase of 3,800 Speedway stores.
MAPCO Express is one of the largest C-store chains in the United States, headquartered in Franklin, Tennessee. They turned to Chute Gerdeman and worked with them for over a year to develop a refreshing new store design that communicated not only convenience and freshness but also a modernized C-store experience. What does that look like? Free Wi-Fi, fresh food and grocery items, smoothies, bean-to-cup coffee, and a beer cave were all part of the new store design. Have a look.
“We’re entering an era where C-stores are a choice not just a convenient option,” explains Chute Gerdeman. Choice Market, with the help of Chute Gerdeman, designed the C-store of the future, combining grocery and restaurant services in a C-store format. At Choice Market, you can grab groceries, order meals made to order from locally sourced foods, and relax.
C-Stores: Right Place, Right Time
Being close to home gave convenience stores a leg up during the pandemic, but to remain relevant, as vaccine rates increase and more people step out of their homes, this focus on delivering customers an experience and providing higher-quality merchandise in a clean, safe, and consumer-oriented environment is what will keep them returning.
For the future of C-stores, shopping will be about accessibility, product offer, and personalization. The door is open for disruption, but a one-size-fits-all approach won’t satisfy demands. Forward-thinking strategies will help retailers gain an edge against competition and beyond traditional norms of convenience. – Chute Gerdeman
Around the world, C-store leaders are making pivotal changes to increase their relevancy, from loyalty programs to free coffee for healthcare workers.