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Industry Innovation

More C-store Chains Embrace & Expand Delivery

Delivery Services for C-Stores Becoming Less of an Option

Delivery man shows up with groceries

he new age of retail is here, and it brought with it, a new type of consumer – one who prioritizes convenience above all else.  Consumers no longer want to browse through a dozen racks of products before being able to spot the toothpaste they want.  This change in consumer mentality, combined with the safety regulations that were imposed for the majority of 2020, pushed convenience stores to adapt and, in some cases, rebrand.  An effective strategy for this has been the expansion of C-Store delivery services, especially through various online platforms, such as DoorDash or Drizly.  

During the height of the safety restrictions in April of 2020, DoorDash partnered with well-established C-Store franchises like 7-Eleven and other retail powerhouse like CVS and Walgreens to launch a new category for convenience items.  DoorDash had reportedly began testing a retail store delivery system at the beginning of 2020, but the coronavirus outbreak expedited the company’s plans to launch the system since alternatives for in-store shopping and pickup were in high demand.  DoorDash had already collaborated with 7-Eleven to launch the 7Now delivery app through the white-label DoorDash Drive delivery system.  Following this, 7-Eleven became the first convenience store delivery partner when DoorDash launched this feature.

Providing excellent customer service has always been our goal, and the timing couldn’t have been better to partner with Drizly, with so much shopping happening online.  Using Drizly, longtime customers and new shoppers alike can explore our wide inventory from the comforts of home and enjoy on-demand delivery in 60 minutes or less

The pricing system for each C-Store, though, is understandably different, because it is based on a contract tailored to their specific needs.  But this model turned out to be so successful, that in August of 2020, DoorDash gave itself an upgrade from a delivery system for other C-Stores to having an online convenience store of its own, called DashMart.  Andrew Ladd, who is the director of new verticals at DashMart, wrote, “DashMart is a new type of convenience store, offering both household essentials and local restaurant favorites to our customers’ doorsteps.”  The products displayed on DashMart are curated entirely by DoorDash.

According to statistics from an app-store intelligence firm called Apptopia, supermarket delivery applications have had record-high downloads since the pandemic started.  Convenience stores utilize one of two models: third-party suppliers or in-house delivery, both with their own set of benefits and drawbacks. Several C-Store franchises like Target and Walmart, which initially offered delivery through dedicated grocery delivery service platforms, have since integrated this feature onto their main apps.  This is likely what caused their downloads to skyrocket.  

grocery delivery from store to home

The average amount of money customers spend online is higher, when compared to in-store purchases.  In addition to this, partnering with established delivery services that are proven is an excellent entry vehicle for newer businesses.  It provides unparalleled visibility with considerably lower overhead costs.  However, a downside of this strategy, is that the store itself will not have access to any data about the customer.  This may adversely impact the efficiency of their marketing strategies, especially targeted advertisements.

Larger chains can afford to build their own platforms, so they are able to control the entire process, including customer experience.   C-Store giant 7-Eleven is making good use of this strategy – they can monitor their own quality standard and provide a seamless shopping experience for their customers.  7-Eleven has also made contactless delivery available.  In this mode of delivery, the customer’s order will be left at their doorstep, and they will not have to come into contact with anyone else, offering additional health protections during the pandemic.

In addition to this, GoPuff, a convenience store delivery service based in Pennsylvania, began to deliver COVID-19 tests.  This initiative was in partnership with Purlab, and was driven by the need to provide accurate and accessible tests to customers in a timely manner.  Upon receiving the kit, customers can simply register their kit on the Purlab mobile app, which will enable them to get their test results back in around 24 hours.

With major retailers lifting the mandate on wearing masks inside stores, it is likely that customers might feel safer shopping from home.  The need for C-Stores to embrace this expansion and use it to their advantage has never been more apparent.  In fact, in 2020 alone, the amount of money consumers spent in online convenience stores increased by a staggering 346%.  

As is true with most consumer trends, it is unclear whether the sudden boom of convenience store delivery is here to stay.  As of now, it can only be assumed that the convenience of having essential items in one place is no longer enough for consumers – only time will tell.

July 26, 2021