Kwik Trip Offers Added Convenience of a Drive-Through

Discussion
Feb 20, 2008

By George Anderson

The Kwik Trip convenience store chain is looking to become a little more convenient for its customers by giving them the option of not having to get out of their cars to buy coffee and other items from a new location in Onalaska, Wisconsin.

Hans Zietlow, director of real estate for the company, told the Holmen Courier that the store would have “the first ever drive-through for Kwik Trip.”

The drive-through had been used by Taco John’s, which was housed inside a Shell station/store that Kwik Trip acquired. Aside from the drive-through, Mr. Zietlow said the rest of the store will look like the other 350 stores in the Kwik Trip chain. The company plans to have the new location open for business 24/7 at some point in early April.

“It’s a good location for us,” Mr. Zietlow said. “We’ll be reaching a part of the area we don’t regularly reach.”

Discussion Questions: Will drive-throughs become more commonplace at convenience stores in much the same way that gas operations have become in many parts of the U.S.? What do you see as the opportunities and challenges associated with operating drive-throughs in convenience store outlets?

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10 Comments on "Kwik Trip Offers Added Convenience of a Drive-Through"


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Dan Desmarais
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Dan Desmarais
14 years 3 months ago

As a Canadian and avid Tim Hortons customer, who is in Wisconsin today where it’s colder than in Canada, I’ll reiterate the others’ comments that it’s about time.

Receiving your hot cup of coffee along with other convenience items makes complete sense. They’ll soon figure out it will allow them to have one staff member working over night and keep the front door locked and secure.

Herb Sorensen, Ph.D.
Guest
14 years 3 months ago

It’s a no-brainer to me, like drive through fast food, drive through pharmacy, etc.

Lee Peterson
Guest
14 years 3 months ago

Boy, is this one of those “it’s about time” things or what?

Makes sense business wise, makes sense brand wise, and, due to the lack of ANY redeeming in-store value, just plain makes sense. Starbucks, another business that for many is convenience based, increased their business by over 50% in many of the stores where drive throughs were added. You have to wonder if that’ll be the case for C-stores after this.

Ben Ball
Guest
14 years 3 months ago

Is there potential for drive-through convenience? Maybe. But judging that depends a lot on the objective. Traditional c-stores live and die on GTB (gas, tobacco and beer)–with a healthy kicker from snacks/candy/soft drinks and maybe some prepared food. These are all essentially “immediate consumption items,” not unlike a burger and fries. So adding drive-through convenience to the store would seem to make sense.

The one major hiccup in that scenario is the “Tim Horton problem” cited by Doran–a satisfactory fast food drive-through experience lasts 45 seconds–no longer. That is very hard to do when the customers are choosing between Value Meals #1-12. It is darned near impossible if they are choosing between SKUs #1-2500….

David Livingston
Guest
14 years 3 months ago

It depends on the layout and store volume. Some Kwik Trip stores are high volume and they need to get a fast turnover of customers to avoid parking jams. Kwik Trip is loaded with low priced convenience items such as cheap coffee, hot dogs 3/$1, etc. The drive-through might encourage the purchase of these low margin items and discourage browsing for the high margin impulse items.

Where I live, Shell has partnered with McDonald’s with drive-through and it seems pretty commonplace to co-brand gas with fast food. Recently, I read where a drive-through grocery store was opened in Texas. Perhaps combining drive-through grocery with gas might work.

Brett Williams
Guest
Brett Williams
14 years 3 months ago

20 years ago, a convenience store was built in our small, rural Missouri town. It was a hit. With bargain fountain drinks available, the word-of-mouth spread fast, not to mention the convenience of the drive through was very popular.

One challenge to this option will be liquor sales. I believe some areas have outlawed drive through liquor sales, which was one popular aspect of this store at the time.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
14 years 3 months ago

Those of us that live in Canada will tell that the Tim Horton’s drive through is either the greatest invention since sliced bread or the worst invention since the 8 track. Drive throughs obviously offer a convenient choice for consumers but if not run properly, they can be detrimental to the brand (which in Tim’s case happens more often than not). Chains need to properly staff and train drive through personnel to capitalize on the speed factor that consumers are looking for.

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 3 months ago

Coffee is the highest profit item in any convenience store, so if the local zoning and building codes allow drive-throughs, there’s no downside. For locations with late night security issues, drive-throughs make it easier to recruit employees, if the stores can be “late night drive-through only.”

Ted Hurlbut
Guest
Ted Hurlbut
14 years 3 months ago

Convenience is a breakthrough strategy for many companies. Think of the emergence of lifestyle strips and power centers, the real estate strategy of companies like CVS and Walgreens, not to mention Dunkin’ Donuts, and Staples’ “Easy Button” ad campaign.

Just about any category or format that is driven by a convenience strategy will likely have the opportunity to benefit greatly from offering drive-through service.

Odonna Mathews
Guest
Odonna Mathews
14 years 2 months ago

How convenient are drive-throughs? It all depends on the staffing, layout, focus on efficiency and overall management. They can “wow” customers or cause customers to leave thinking they should have made a “quick” trip inside the store after all.

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