October 17, 2019 | REINT JAN HOLTERMAN
Earlier this month I visited the NACS Show for the first time in my life, and oh boy, what a show! Drawing 25,000 people from the fuel and convenience sector, it was packed with all kinds of innovations, not only in store automation technology, but also in c-store design and food technology. I tasted new doughnuts and nitro-iced coffee, experienced amazing c-store designs and had a look at the latest developments in forecourt and c-store technologies. Here are three of my top takeaways from the event.
#1: The Industry’s Focus is Shifting
One overarching theme that was clear: no matter who I spoke to—food wholesalers, software vendors or fuel equipment providers—they all described a major shift in their approach. The transition from a fuel-centric business model to a (for lack of a better word) “convenience-store centric” business model is happening fast—and on a global scale. We’ve discussed this trend on our podcast—we call it a transition from “fuel-plus to plus-fuel”.
Neil Hendry, DN’s head of Fuel & Convenience, discussed this shift on the show floor. The key challenge for fuel and convenience retailers making this transition, he said, is how to empower the consumer and shape their journey in such a way that it becomes truly appealing and personal. The industry is moving away from site-oriented systems, he says. In order to stay successful retailers need to play a diversified game in which they are present on all major touchpoints that a consumer wishes to use. So what are we moving toward instead? Find out where he sees the technology going in this clip:
#2: New Touchpoints are Becoming the Norm
Consumer’s shopping journeys can start anywhere—at home, in the connected car, in-store or on the forecourt. Even for small, quick purchases, consumers want technology-based options that make their transaction faster, easier and more seamless. Our booth at the show was buzzing with conversations around cloud and mobile technologies, in-car connectivity, real-time personalized promotions shown on displays next to the pump or on the forecourt payment terminals, and so on. An end-to-end POS-independent interaction platform running in the cloud and that’s dedicated to fuel and convenience retail can enable many of these new innovations and experiences.
#3: Self-Service is Opening Up New Opportunities
In-store developments are catching on quickly, as our business development lead for fuel and convenience, Uli Seemann, explained at the show. In this clip, he breaks down the three biggest challenges c-store retailers face:
Especially in the U.S., attracting and retaining labor is a constant struggle. Self-service solutions let customers scan and pay for their items without the help of store staff, or let them place a custom food order via a touchscreen terminal. We’ve all experienced the sudden rush at a c-store: it only takes a few people to form a queue, and all you want is a soda and a snack so you can get back on the road. C-store staff often cannot react quickly enough to prevent or alleviate the dreaded queue, and that’s where self-service becomes a necessity. Self-service doesn’t replace store staff as much as it enables staff to offer additional services to customers who need help or want advice and for whom they did not have the time until then.
One key requirement for self-checkout (or SCO) systems is that they are easy to use. This goes beyond having an intuitive touchscreen display; it also includes flexible support for ways to pay using cash, card or mobile. SCO systems must support various use cases efficiently, such as handling age-restricted items, queue busting and staff-assisted selling. And of course SCO systems must be fully adaptable to the c-store format: some store owners prefer to offer self-checkout, others want to offer flexible self-ordering of food items, and yet another group of store operators want to combine both food ordering and self-checkout in one terminal. We’ve combined the best of both worlds in our latest end-to-end solution, Vynamic FCx. See how it’s changing the game for c-stores:
Top Trends in C-Store Technology: Join the Webinar with Forrester
It’s clear the fuel and convenience market is in transition, and lots of exciting new technology developments are happening to support retailers in making the shift to a truly consumer-centric business model. In our upcoming webinar with Forrester, you’ll have a chance to learn more about these and other top trends in c-store technology. At Diebold Nixdorf, we’re providing retailers with the best tools and technologies to support consumers on their shopping journeys, while delivering the best personalized experiences for their customers. That’s what we’ve invested in over the last couple of years, and what we call our Vynamic FCx platform: a true game-changer in the fuel and convenience market!
Interested in learning more about how fast and easy it can be to implement our Vynamic FCx platform in your c-stores? Attend the webinar we’re organizing together with Forrester on November 7th.