Innovation With a Purpose

Shiny new technologies grab headlines, but may not deliver the best results.
Melissa Kress
Executive Editor

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that Merriam-Webster announced "authentic" as its Word of the Year for 2023. In the grand scheme of things, that may be true. However, if you narrow the scope down to the convenience channel, I would argue the word of the year is innovation. 

The dictionary definition of innovation is a new idea, method or device, or the introduction of something new. I prefer Darrin Samaha's definition of innovation, though, which the Yesway executive shared for Convenience Store News' September innovation cover story. According to the vice president of marketing, innovation to the retailer "is not so much revolutionary as it is solving a clear problem, shopping roadblock or consumer need state to make it easier to shop at our stores."

This was a recurring theme among the retailers we highlighted in the article. 

At Yesway, artificial intelligence (AI) is driving data-based decisions that result in product assortments, pricing strategies and marketing efforts that better match consumer needs.

Texas Born similarly uses AI to learn who is shopping its stores, how they are shopping the stores, and the service levels at key points in the journey such as the foodservice counter and checkout. AI insights also identify when shelves are low on product faster, how many times someone has entered the restroom and how often it should be cleaned, and when more employees are needed at checkout.

And innovation — or the lack thereof — in the convenience channel was the driving force behind the creation of Choice Market. The small operator now stands among the notable brands in the industry that are embracing technology with intention to better serve customers and employees. 

While it causes a stir, introducing something new just for the sake of introducing something new is probably not the best use of resources. In the end, innovation with a purpose will drive better results for everyone. 

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