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05/09/2022

Not So Random Thoughts on C-store Foodservice

Talking technology, inflation, and the meaning of convenience.
Don Longo
Editorial Director
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This month is Convenience Store News’ annual Foodservice Issue, so let me share a few thoughts about this complex, enormously important, and potentially hugely profitable part of the c-store business.

1. As pointed out in our May issue cover story, the success of a c-store foodservice program is tied tightly to delivering an exceptional guest experience. To many consumers, that experience is dependent on utilizing the right technology. From mobile apps to loyalty programs to the ability for store-level employees to accurately and efficiently take and prepare food orders, technology is getting further and further entwined into the foodservice experience.

Technology is also critical behind the scenes. Here is where digital data and artificial intelligence help the retailer build a foodservice program, execute it and evaluate it. Everything done in food operations today is enabled by technology. Technology allows foodservice operators to better engage with their customers and employees in a fast, efficient and profitable manner.

2. There’s no bigger food story right now than the rising rate of inflation. As CSNews reported last month, inflation is at the highest level it has been in 40 years. Retailers will not be able to pass rising costs on to consumers indefinitely. And, as price inflation continues to rise, consumers will be more focused than ever on value.

A recent report from research firm AlixPartners says that the current supply disruption and inflationary challenges are likely to endure for months at least. They think there will be increased consumer sensitivity around value. The report notes opportunity to drive supply chain benefits to ease margin pressure by leaning into strategic partnerships with foodservice vendors, taking advantage of changes in consumer behavior, capitalizing on the rising demand for sustainability, improving store-level forecasting, and embedding more agility into the supply chain. For more information on this report, contact the author Molly Harnischfeger at [email protected].

3. I’m convinced that in this post-pandemic era, c-store customers’ expectations have dramatically altered. The rise of work-from-home, stay in and order delivery, and heightened preference for fresh food and better hygiene are pushing convenience channel retailers to reevaluate their foodservice operations.

Foodservice directors from across the country will converge in Savannah, Ga., next month to discuss strategies to meet consumers’ changing expectations of convenience. If the future of foodservice is important to you, don’t miss this year’s Convenience Foodservice Exchange. To register, go to csnewscfx.com.

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