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Getting Back to the Basics

C-store technology leaders focus on the fundamentals to drive the future of the industry.
The changing mobility with tech icons

Over the past few years, mobile apps and loyalty programs have become table stakes in the convenience store industry. Yes, consumer-facing solutions offering the latest and greatest technological features draw attention — and they are designed to. However, something strikes me every time I interact with members of Conexxus, either through the organization's webinars or at its annual conference: The basics are most important when it comes to retail technology.

The 2024 Conexxus Annual Conference, held two weeks ago, really drove that home. Sitting through the two jammed-packed days of education sessions and panels, it was apparent that more than 200 of the industry's leading technology executives did not travel to Texas to hear about drone delivery or crypto payments. Session after session focused on the fundamentals. 

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Some of the greatest tech minds in the convenience channel took the stage to discuss their companies' transformation journeys — the good and the bad — and these journeys were mostly driven by the basics. From Nouria Energy's bid to be more data-driven to Alimentation Couche-Tard's proprietary API-based cloud services platform to RaceTrac's edge computing move, a strong foundation was built.

In welcoming attendees to the conference, Conexxus Executive Director Gray Taylor used a popsicle analogy to describe the organization's role in the industry — the stick stays the same regardless of the flavor.

"If we provide the technological backbone, then and with the appropriate connectivity in there, it's up to the retailers to put together the flavors they want to put in that box," he said. "And if we do it really well, it becomes an endless landscape possibility."

Endless indeed, and I believe the best is yet to come. 

Speaking of the best is yet to come, Taylor announced that Jenny Bullard, manager of member engagement for the organization, is retiring from the industry and this year's event will be her last Conexxus conference. She joined Conexxus five years ago after stepping down from her post as chief information officer at Flash Foods. Bullard has forgotten more about retail technology than most of us will ever know in our lifetime. Congratulations Jenny and good luck in your next chapter! 

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