Digital Solutions to Play Key Role for Food Retailers in 2023

Building brand loyalty through app-based rewards and online ordering can help independent c-stores compete with larger chains.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The tug-of-war between staff shortages and consumer demand will continue into 2023, according to turnkey solution provider SWIPEBY. The company believes retailers, restaurants, grocery stores and others in consumer-facing food industries will need to deploy digital solutions if they want to survive and thrive in the current climate.

According to the company, large chains with internal IT and marketing departments have already been implementing new technology to stay in front, allowing them to further pressure independent operators. As smaller c-stores look ahead through the new year, SWIPEBY offers several predictions to keep in mind in order to stay competitive.

"We're seeing successful operators deploying digital solutions that drive new and repeat business," said Carl Turner, founder and CEO of SWIPEBY. "Food is hot when the customer pulls up to the virtual drive-thru lane of a local Mexican restaurant thanks to geofencing location technology. A customer places an order or enrolls in a subscription with a c-store so that their morning coffee (with two creams) is delivered to them at the gas pump. All is a result of technology's impact on independent retailers."

SWIPEBY advised operators to build brand loyalty online. This will include investing in their own apps — as opposed to operating through a third-party partner — and building reward points directly into the app. Further, they should launch their own online ordering for curbside pick-up or delivery, and work to ensure their information isn't usurped in Google searches by third-party delivery companies.

Online ordering for c-stores will also see a major uptick in the next few years, with major chains such as Pennsylvania-based Wawa Inc. and Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven Inc. already upgrading their apps and  installing features such as drive-thru lanes to ease the process of curbside pickup. Smaller c-stores should follow their lead and ensure their digital technology can compete in the online service market, the company added.

Additionally, SWIPEBY predicts that customers will prioritize personalization and convenience and will be more willing to trade some personal data for it. Retailers should seize this opportunity and take a cue from companies like Amazon and Etsy to customize the online experience, such as using a customer's location information to deliver local on-brand messages. 

SWIPEBY provides applications for brick-and-mortar businesses to offer virtual drive-thru for their customers. Their platform allows businesses to connect with customers through online ordering, delivery, pick-up, re-marketing and geofenced arrival notifications. Founded in 2019 in Winston-Salem, SWIPEBY opened an additional office in Miami in July 2021.