With the arrival of a new year, industry events are about to start up again and, as usual, the National Retail Federation (NRF) will kick things off with NRF 2024: Retail's Big Show. The annual event is the first major gathering of retail technology leaders spanning every channel. I will admit, though, that when I first began attending this event, I found much of the innovation on display geared toward other channels.
Sure, there were tech ideas for the convenience store space — self-checkout options, planogram solutions and workforce management tools come to mind — but I felt the convenience channel was underrepresented.
That changed two years ago when NRF began showcasing the growing connection between foodservice and technology. That tie-in will be a key feature at the January 2024 show with the introduction of the Foodservice Innovation Zone.
It makes a lot of sense considering that the retailers who participated in the 2023 Convenience Store News Technology Study called out several priorities that have a direct connection to a c-store's foodservice program. For example, 24% said they plan to add touchscreen monitors for ordering in-store; 28% cited food safety technology as a top opportunity among backend tech solutions; and as for customer-facing technology, 46% pointed to mobile/online ordering as a top opportunity while 42% cited optimizing menuboards.
As NRF noted, "the fusion of foodservice into retail isn't without its challenges. It requires a symphony of technology to orchestrate a seamless experience."