How Kum & Go Sees the Pandemic Forever Changing Shopping Habits
DES MOINES, Iowa — Kum & Go LC Chief Operating Officer Reed Rainey characterizes the convenience store retailer's COVID-19 related activity as "creative responsiveness and reprioritization," using its learning to inform, adapt and emphasize innovation.
"For me, innovation is both the new incremental improvements that differentiate your day-to-day business, and the broad, sweeping, revolutionary vaults that truly take your business to that next level," Rainey told Convenience Store News.
In early April, as part of a broader effort to give consumers more purchasing and fueling options during the pandemic, Kum & Go launched both full-service fuel and curbside pickup initiatives — first introducing them at select stores and then rolling them out chainwide. Based in Des Moines, Kum & Go operates 400 stores across 11 states.
For full-service fueling, customers must call the main store number upon arrival at the pump, then hand their payment card or cash to the store associate who will run the transaction and perform the fueling process. Employees wear a new pair of gloves for each transaction.
For curbside pickup, customers call the main store phone number to place their order, which is then delivered to their vehicle upon arrival. Hours for these services vary by store, although at most locations, both are available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Looking ahead, Rainey expects the pandemic will forever change the shopping habits of consumers based on three fundamental accelerations of behavior and technologies that have already been underway across the convenience channel. They are:
- Accelerated adoption of touchless transactions;
- Accelerated adoption of enhanced-service options, including curbside/pumpside delivery, pickup and "wherever/whenever/whatever" delivery; and
- Strengthened loyalty to the most-trusted brands.
"I believe the pandemic is ushering in a host of new opportunities for the convenience channel. The consumer is looking for new options that better help them manage their risk, time and money," he said. "We also are seeing how our customer values Fuel Better, our proprietary app feature that saves time and reduces touches at the pump by activating and paying from one’s phone."