C-store customers want an app to order ahead
Convenience store customers increasingly want to be able to place their food orders beforehand via an app, according to a new study.
In light of the pandemic reshaping shopper habits and demands, 41 percent of customers now want the option to order ahead from convenience stores, according to Datassential’s “2021 C-Store Foodservice Keynote Report”, reported on by Convenience Store Decisions.
The technology is even more popular among younger customers. Customers are also asking for delivery, even though only 13 percent of convenience stores currently offer the option. The high cost of third-party delivery relationships, and the loss of control over the brand experience, have emerged as the major sticking points.
The biggest operator in the U.S. convenience store space has already been working to get ahead of this demand.
7-Eleven recently launched its 7NOW Gold Pass subscription delivery service, which allows members to get delivery fees waived on more than 3,000 food items ordered via app. The subscription service is $5.95 and also allows members to get perks like free products, and earn double points on the 7Rewards loyalty app.
The chain began piloting mobile ordering/pickup and BOPIS in 2017. In 2019, it launched its 7-Eleven Evolution store concept, which acts as a lab for testing new tech features as well as higher-end offerings like attached quick-serve restaurants.
Regional chains have also been focusing on building out their app ordering capabilities. Wawa, for instance, has an app which allows customers to order, pre-pay and pick up food, and also get delivery and curbside pickup.
The chain even began piloting a small store concept for online order pickup with a walk-up window in 2019.
Customer demand for app ordering and delivery comes after years of convenience stores moving toward operating more like restaurants.
Recently a representative of Gier Oil Co. characterized convenience stores as being “restaurants that sell gas,” rather than primarily locations where people can purchase fuel. Gier Oil Co. is the owner and operator of more than 50 Eaglestop convenience store locations in and around Missouri.
- Technology Is Raising the Bar for Food Programs – Convenience Store Decisions
- 7-Eleven Launches 7NOW Gold Pass™, featuring Waived Delivery Fee and More – 7-Eleven press release
- Order Wawa Your Way – Wawa
- 7-Eleven goes omnichannel with mobile BOPIS and delivery – RetailWire
- Are c-stores mostly becoming restaurants that sell gas? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will all big convenience store chains eventually need apps to facilitate advance ordering and delivery? Is there a risk that convenience stores might over-invest in this type of technology/partnership and find that it is not as useful as it purports to be for customers?