On Monday, Merriam-Webster released its Word of the Year for 2023: authentic. According to the company, it's a term for something we're thinking about, writing about, aspiring to, and judging more than ever. "A high-volume lookup most years, authentic saw a substantial increase in 2023, driven by stories and conversations about AI, celebrity culture, identity and social media," Merriam-Webster pointed out.
At first glance, one may be hard pressed to find a connection between the word of the year and the convenience store industry until you factor in artificial intelligence, or AI for short. AI can have impactful implications in the c-store industry. AI-driven data and analytics can help operators plan their inventory better, helping to avoid the dreaded out-of-stock scenarios that drive customers through the doors of the competitor down the street. AI can be a handy tool as well for operators to utilize when building out planograms or employee schedules.
AI can also be useful with the other side of the retail equation: the consumer. In a 2022 Convenience Store News webcast, Paytronix noted that AI can help c-store retailers learn more about their customers' behavior and value; segment customers in more exacting ways; make more compelling, personalized offers; maximize channel efficiency; and find ideal customers in the marketplace using AI-constructed profiles.
Consumers want to feel a connection to the retailers and brands with whom they choose to spend their hard-earned money. Using AI to know what they want before they ask for it, and sometimes before they even know they want it, is a key factor in fostering that connection. But with the word of the year in mind, retailers must be cautioned to keep that personalized approach authentic.
Keeping it real, keeping it meaningful and keeping it authentic will go a long way to keeping your customers coming back for more.