Convenience stores, for the most part, have remained open during the pandemic. But with travel light and many working and learning remotely, sales are spiraling downward.
Sumit Kar, Sr. Director of Operations, and Matt Wholley, Sr. Director of Client Relations at Vixxo, know managing facilities during this unprecedented time can be a maneuvering balancing act. The offered insights and guidance for c-store facilities managers on how to successfully navigate this difficult time.
“COVID has changed the landscape of the business,” Kar said. “The safety of the customer is paramount. So now, when you walk into a convenience store or any retail establishment, you’re going to see plexiglass between the cashier station and the customer. You’ll see directional floor signs dictating traffic flow. All c-stores are moving towards hand dryers in the restrooms and touchless toilets. And there is a renewed focus on contactless payments.”
C-stores now have a two-pronged focus: keeping their facilities clean and their customers safe.
Kar said store owners don’t want any unnecessary downtime of equipment with foot traffic down in stores.
“The expectations for the store owners are sky high, and they don’t want to let down the customers,” Kar said. “And that translates to the facilities team having to deliver best-in-class-service all the time.”
Has this economic slowdown due to the pandemic caused c-store owners to think outside the box?
“The c-store industry has gone away from the traditional box store, grab-n-go phenomenon,” Kar said. “Now, when you’re walking into these stores, you see expansive fresh food and hot food options; beer and wine selections. Do you want coffee? It’s no longer just regular coffee. You have like eight different kinds of coffees. A lot of these c-stores have quick-service restaurants in them.”
Loyalty programs that offer added features such as delivery can be a massive win for c-stores.
“The convenience store used to be something driven from the fact that you were already in the store and you were picking up some other things because it was convenient to do so,” Wholley said. “Now, brand loyalty is driving customers to want that, even if they weren’t planning on going to the store if for no other reason than to order it to get delivery to their house or curbside pickup. Those new convenient factors are really driving sales.”