As we inch closer to 2024, you can't help but wonder what the new year will hold. Whether your 2023 was good, bad or middle of the road, the turning of the calendar page holds much promise for the convenience channel.
As a long-time editor in the industry, I receive numerous press releases this time of year predicting trends for the coming year. From flavors in food — McCormick announced its 2024 Flavor of the Year: Tamarind — to beverage trends — Flavorman predicts a significant surge in the popularity of "sweet heat" fusions — it's always interesting to see what may be hitting c-store shelves in the coming months.
And while innovation in all categories has a role to play in the success of each c-store, technology can be the biggest differentiator. So, what's coming down the retail technology pike? Here is a sampling of what industry insiders have to say:
- Kevin Patel, vice president of C-Store POS: The c-store industry will continue its rapid evolution, marked by two prominent and transformative trends: small stores will need to better harness the power of cutting-edge data analytics to revolutionize their operations; and as foot traffic surges, businesses shouldn’t be afraid to embrace the integration of a second register system within their establishments.
- Kristin Lynch, senior director of the Paytronix Strategy & Analytics Team: Expect 2024 to be all about the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and how this technology will require quality data to truly transform the guest experience. Beyond AI's broader rise, generative AI tools like ChatGPT are completely transforming businesses.
- Placer.ai: Although the importance of retail media networks has continued to grow over the past couple of years, there is still significant untapped potential in the space. The innovative advertising platform is likely to take on even greater importance in the coming year.
Of course, none of us has a crystal ball. If I did, I would be writing this from my beach house right on the ocean. Even without a crystal ball, though, it's clear that 2024 promises to be another exciting year in the c-store technology space.