To say consumers are demanding is an understatement. Maybe the blame lies with Burger King and its classic "Have It Your Way" slogan, which debuted in the 1970s and recently made a comeback. I guess it doesn’t really matter; once that genie was out of the bottle, it was impossible to put back in.
Convenience store retailers know this all too well — especially following the COVID-19 pandemic as consumer demands changed and meeting them was not optional.
Now, three years after the health crisis drove change in all areas of not only business but also everyday life, it's time to shift focus and turn attention to the demands, needs and wants of employees.
At the recent NRF 2023: Retail's Big Show in New York, retail technology and its tie-in with food retailing took center stage at the Food Service Tech Pavilion, and what stood out to me was how much of the conversation centered around operations — for example, how to streamline your business and how automation can help, not replace your staff.
Yes, the talk was directed at food retailing, but that doesn’t mean similar thinking cannot be applied to the entire store. Self-checkout frees up team members to do what they do best — help customers — while robotic floor cleaners relieve associates of a mundane task that very well may be the worst part of their shift.
This is not to say that c-store retailers should redirect all of their focus from the customer experience. It should not be thought of as an operations vs. customer scenario. The two go hand-in-hand.