he COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm which resulted in a worldwide lockdown and a grim foreseeable future. With a major standstill in the global economy, many people not only lost their livelihoods but businesses all across the world shut down. Any business that was able to cope with the major economic shutdown in some way had digitalized and automated its internal systems.
Implementing digital sales systems has been a struggle for businesses in the small and medium enterprises (SME) space. But it seems that the pandemic has accelerated this process and all kinds of businesses were going online. The most surprising trend though? The breakout of C-Store digital ordering. C-Stores have been known for their ease of access due to the variety of products that can be purchased. With the service industry being characterized by cashiers and managers who are working at such stores, it’s hard to break from the notion that you can place digital orders at your local C-Store.
With a major standstill in the global economy, many people not only lost their livelihoods but businesses all across the world shut down. Any business that was able to cope with the major economic shutdown in some way had digitalized and automated its internal systems.
According to recent reports, digital ordering platforms have recorded a 3-fold increase in their sales from the time the pandemic began. With people having to stay at home, access to basic necessities became an issue and the only way to get over the problem was to place your orders online. Soon, local C-Stores began implementing systems that safeguarded their employees but prevented their stores from shutting down. This accelerated the C-Store digital ordering trend that only appears to be expanding.
C-Stores have always been wary of implementing digital sales systems in their companies because of the presumption of job loss and inability to handle technology. In addition to that, they also feel like such systems tend to contribute to the loss of more personable servicing opportunities. While these might seem like something they should be concerned about, the digital revolution during the pandemic has proved otherwise. Servicing is just as important online as offline and there’s enough data to prove the same.
For example, in the case of digital ordering, customers expect to receive the exact product that they ordered. If you order noodles with kung pao chicken and receive noodles with kung pao tofu, nobody is going to be happy about it. So, accuracy in orders is a key aspect of digital ordering. Another way to engage your customers is to offer them multiple options for the same kind of product so that they’re sure to place an order. Once they do that, always make sure that the customer is updated on the delivery process constantly and this increases their confidence in the C-Store’s ability to serve. Bottom line - top-notch client service can and is being offered through C-Store digital ordering!
Now we’ve mentioned that sales have increased multi-fold in the past year primarily because of digital ordering but what are the trends like? According to Paytronix Annual Order & Delivery Report: 2021, many customers placed an order with a brand or C-Store that they weren’t familiar with either. While many stores that were unable to cope and eventually shutdown, this opened up a newer audience for the more adaptive stores to absorb.
Also, when customers have to place an order online, they’re more likely to order more than their needs simply because of the number of options that are available to them. It follows the same logic of placing too many options within the store that forces the customers to take another look around the store. Yet again, an important trend observed in the C-Store digital ordering system is that customers are likely to return even if their food is terrible but would not return if the C-Store service itself is terrible.
This goes to show that even though their options are not limited to order online, being complacent with digital services will prove disastrous. This has heightened management sensitivity to any perceived inability to service customers online. With the addition of local stores to the digital ordering world, it’s not surprising that digital sales have skyrocketed in the past few months.
A prime concern for C-Store companies is that managing the technology itself would be challenging. Lack of familiarity with these platforms as well as process adaptations and significant time constraints surrounding implementation can prove to be debilitating.
Fortunately, a significant body of knowledge is forming around digital sales system initiatives. Also, many digital ordering services have expedited their marketing and technological capabilities and that information is available. In urban areas, it’s quite easy to find services such as UberEats, Grubhub, etc. but it’s best to understand what the buying trends on these apps are. For example, UberEats is popular but tends to have a lower customer spending rate. The cost of these delivery systems could also be quite high in terms of service charges and commission cuts for the facilitating business.
The ideal way to successfully migrate into digital ordering capability is to do in-depth market research, team with appropriate vendors and ensure there are customer success managers to onboard the new systems. This would reduce technological interruptions and help their employees focus on stellar customer service.
With C-Store digital ordering increasing in the past year, many customers are demonstrating preferences for stores that offer food services as well. If they tend to shop at a particular C-Store, they’re more likely to order food from it as well because of trust in the brand. In 2021, it is expected that those who immerse in this trend will reap benefits from implementing digital sales systems.
With new stores opening in late 2021, digital ordering has created an omnichannel presence for these stores and it will only help them adapt their business over time. Digital ordering is all about providing value for the customers within their comfort zones and this is exactly why it works.