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Blog Series
06/09/2022

C-store Innovation Takes Time & Thoughtful Planning

Alimentation Couche-Tard uses its Norway market to test new ideas.
Melissa Kress
Senior News Editor
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Test. Learn. Grow.

That is a solid mantra when it comes to retail technology. Pilot programs are part of any rollout for good reason: technology is a big-ticket item. The cost can sometimes be off-putting, especially for smaller operators. Purchasing and installing new equipment or solutions takes significant investment. In addition, a retailer cannot overlook the cost to its employees — mostly in time and training.

And it can all be for nothing if the solution is something consumers don't want or, maybe worse, want but find a particular retailer's offer lacking or difficult to navigate.

So then, it makes good business sense to test, learn, and then grow.

Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., the parent company of the global Circle K brand, is taking its time to get the technology piece right. Take its electric vehicle (EV) charging network, for example. The company first introduced EV charging stations four years ago in Norway, the world's most mature EV market, in what is known as its "Norway lab" focusing on innovative EV charging solutions that anticipate and effectively meet the demands of EV customers across the spectrum of driving occasions and needs.

Couche-Tard has a network of more than 1,000 EV chargers covering more than 230 Circle K stores in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and recently started deployment in other European locations.

Now, the retailer has decided it's time to start building an EV charging network in North America, beginning at a new prototype Circle K store in Rock Hill, S.C. Over the next two years, Couche-Tard plans to add charging units to 200 Circle K and Couche-Tard convenience stores across North America while continuing to learn. 

Everyone wants to grow, but the key is to grow smart. Test. Learn. Grow.

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