How c-store operators can balance investments in technology that promote safety while also protecting their bottom line.
Technology in business is a reality of the digital age – it’s a necessary part of effective business operations and customer service. Sometimes, however, the return on investment for new developments isn’t enough to make the tech worthwhile or ends up costing too much time to implement, taking valuable attention away from customers. Now, the increased focus on customer and staff safety and adjusted buying behaviors have become disruptors in the industry, making technology even more vital. Convenience retailers are reaching for solutions that decrease human-to-human contact, improve the flexibility of consumer buying options to encourage repeat traffic, and above all, keep their business profitable. To find solutions that meet these goals, companies should balance options that are simple to implement with their current infrastructure and promote a measurable (and hopefully quick) return on investment.
The most effective changes to business aren’t those that upset the apple cart – they fit into existing business models to enhance procedures. When deciding on an investment, it’s important to ask questions about how it will impact your business. Will it require substantial buy-in from your IT or infrastructure teams? Will the new procedures be hard for staff to follow or require additional training materials? Will the new technology blend well with the systems you already have in place? According to a recent study from Convenience Store News, 63% of convenience store operators said that their existing technology held them back from implementing changes. Now, of course, this doesn’t mean that retailers shouldn’t try to implement new technology, but rather, be selective and realistic with the new paths they seek out and put into action.
When considering a new mobile payment, self-check-out, or touch-free credit card scanner for customers, think about how this device works with your existing POS. If you’re looking to upgrade your POS, think about the connectivity the new system will provide to your back-office or accounting packages. The best tech for your business will integrate easily and cascade advantages throughout operations – not create roadblocks that prevent you from serving your customers effectively.
Another critical point to consider is the potential return on investment new technology may bring your business. Selecting tech with a measurable and significant financial ROI could make the difference in times of market disruption and unpredictable buying habits. When cash flow is tight, consider technology providers that solve multiple pain points with one application or eliminate time-wasting business operations. The benefits provided can be directly quantified and deemed a success. For example, in the alcohol category, Fintech’s touch-free payment technology provides retailers with automated alcohol payments, which reduce human-to-human contact for staff, digitizes invoice management, and integrates data directly into most major back-office systems. These benefits breakdown to additional advantages that not only cascade to other parts of the business, but they reduce costs on administrative labor and highlight price discrepancies to help better navigate purchase habits that ultimately protect and improve margins. Convenience store clients who utilize Fintech for beverage alcohol management report returns as great as 200% or more of their original investment within the first 30 days of use!
Additionally, combining technology that provides a quick ROI with options that support long-term business goals can bring tangible benefits. Especially during times of unpredictable or unstable customer buying habits, tech options with an opportunity for higher dividends are key. More and more convenience retailers are turning to options that increase safety or provide more accessibility because those are the advancements attracting customers. The safer customers feel, the more likely they’ll be to spend time in your store, and the higher the chances they’ll return for future purchases. While the ROI for consumer-facing technology might not be immediate, or even directly quantifiable, it’s certainly easy to see through higher traffic and larger basket share.
As the need for technology grows exponentially every day, retailers must be agile in adoption and attentive to the realistic and even potential returns brought back to their business. Balancing options that blend innovation with customer service and operational advantages bring your business a powerful return on investment and propel profits with the changing industry.