Is Delivery the Right Move for Your C-store Business?
NATIONAL REPORT — Amazon redefined the delivery game by changing consumers’ expectations for the convenience, speed and method by which they could receive products.
“We expect everything from cupcakes to kayaks delivered as fast and conveniently as pizza,” said Marc Gorlin, founder and CEO of Roadie, the “on-the way delivery service” that aims to connect people and businesses that have items to be delivered with drivers already heading in the right direction. “So now, we have a big urgency problem and suddenly, companies across every corner of retail are desperate to find ways to speed up their supply chain and bring the store closer to the customer.”
Some convenience store operators have already dove into delivery, while others are now trying to gauge the opportunity by testing delivery in select markets and with select items, such as prepared food, packaged beverages, snacks and even beer. These tests are often made possible by using third-party delivery services like Grubhub, Uber Eats, DoorDash or other local delivery partners. In some cases, smartphone apps are being created specifically for delivery.
Industry experts maintain that c-stores with a delivery service will attract new customers and increase the spending and loyalty of existing customers.
“Supporting new channels like delivery will increase the loyalty of your current customer base and also open up opportunities with new customers,” said Sue Welch, CEO of Bamboo Rose, a supply chain and delivery process platform.
In this digital era, consumers expect to be able to source products more conveniently and quickly than ever before, Welch explained. “If a retailer isn’t meeting those expectations, they will quickly find a new retailer who can,” she said. “Given this highly consumer-driven retail environment, it’s imperative that retailers make the proper technology investments to support delivery capabilities without sinking margins.”
But how do you know if you’re ready to start a delivery program?
While there is no exact science, there are some key questions to ask and answer:
1. Have you studied successful delivery programs and how they operate?
This is always a good idea before venturing out in any endeavor, said Lewis Goldstein, founder of Blue Wind Marketing, a full-service marketing and advertising agency. An enterprising delivery retailer should have good business knowledge of delivery king Amazon, as well as traditional players in the convenience channel that have experience in delivery, such as 7-Eleven Inc. and Wawa Inc. Their knowledge should also extend to non-traditional convenience retailers such as digital player goPuff.
2. Are you already personalizing your customer shopping experience?
Do you have a solid loyalty program or other methods of personalizing the customer experience? A stellar delivery program will personalize the experience to each customer based on their shopping history and items they’ve expressed interest in, according to Goldstein. “Retailers that prioritize personalization will win more delivery customers over the long term,” he said.
3. Can you transfer your customer experience to delivery?
Instead of focusing on keeping up with Amazon’s expedited shipping, retailers should focus on building better customer experiences, said Will Walker, enterprise manager at Roadie. From a delivery standpoint, this means creating a logistics infrastructure that can reliably deliver orders when buyers want them delivered. This is accomplished by leveraging multiple delivery models and creating a reliable set of options that include urgent, same-day, next-day delivery and more.
4. Do you understand a community-driven supply chain approach?
“This means being able to support seamless digital collaboration with a range of retail community partners to ensure they’re efficiently driving the highest quality products to market,” explained Welch. “Without these capabilities and processes, convenience retailers risk losing money with delivery initiatives and disappointing consumers through subpar customer experiences.”
5. Are you prepared to continually raise the bar on delivery?
Retailers who want to do well in delivery don’t settle on their laurels; they find ways to offer a better service and experience than their competitors, said Goldstein. The best delivery programs are already doing this, and it is becoming expected by consumers.