The annual National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Show is one of the industry’s premiere events, attracting nearly 24,000 attendees from around the world. Commercial Zone has attended the event for more than 20 years, and we were honored to participate again as an exhibitor at this year’s show in Atlanta Oct. 1-4. The event offers a unique opportunity to get insights on trends from key industry influencers and connect with convenience store leaders and professionals.
Faced with changing consumer preferences, convenience stores are increasingly trying to reinvent themselves to appeal to a new generation. Here are three key takeaways we walked away with after our 2019 NACS experience:
Blurring the lines between retail, grocery and convenience
C-stores are looking to redefine their customer experience and appeal to the buying habits of younger consumers by incorporating elements from retail and grocery. The result is a whole new breed of emerging convenience stores – especially for larger brands that are willing to invest in a hybrid approach.
“We’re seeing more products tailored to millennials, not only with healthier snacks and vegan options, but grab-and-go grocery items like produce, prepared meals and locally-sourced food,” says Sandi Dzirbik, Director of Sales at Commercial Zone. “We’re even working with a client that has added a coffee shop with free wifi, transforming their store into a comfortable gathering space instead of a grab-and-go experience.”
The upscale, branded customer experience
As c-stores begin to embrace a retail and grocery aesthetic, their approach to fixtures and furniture is also evolving. An upscale look with strong and consistent branding is starting to become an increasingly important part of the shift.
“We see more and more clients searching for a cohesive, higher-end look and feel – both inside and outside their stores,” says Dzirbik. “They’re interested in metal or engineered wood instead of plastic for their containers or benches. They want wicker baskets and custom, branded displays – things more common in the retail arena. And they’re very focused on maintaining cleanliness and minimizing clutter.”
Cleanliness is more important than ever
It’s hard to deliver on an upscale customer experience if your store is filled with clutter or has trash on the floor. That’s why cleanliness and effective trash containers is becoming a big priority for the next generation of c-stores.
“Whether it’s hand sanitizers at the pump or custom trash receptacles that help manage waste more effectively, our clients are much more focused on cleanliness as another way to elevate their look and improve customer satisfaction,” says Dzirbik.
Are you incorporating any of these trends into your c-store? We’d love to hear about it. Contact us today to see how we can help you achieve your unique goals.