Three Critical Steps C-stores Must Take in the Digital Transformation Journey

Digitization can give retailers new ways to optimize their business using data.
Sanestina Hunter
Associate Editor
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CHICAGO — The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way consumers shop and how they view “convenience.” Their embrace of new technologies that enable mobile ordering, frictionless checkout, curbside pickup and home delivery has made it imperative that convenience store operators embark on a digital transformation journey if they haven’t already.

The pandemic not only accelerated the need for digital transformation in the convenience channel, but also shined a light on the importance of being proactive rather than reactive to “chaos events,” Brent Puzak, vice president of solutions consulting at Titan Cloud, explained during a recent webinar hosted by Convenience Store News.

“A lot of companies have seen that having software and having technology in place that allows them to share information more readily across the organization has been a critical attribute,” said Puzak, who previously led the Environmental Shared Services Department at Circle K. “You’re seeing a big rush to have everything automated because at the end of the day, it gives you a lot more data to help you, and you can work wherever you need to in the world and be able to deliver at a high standard.”

Digitization can give c-store operators new ways to optimize their business by using data. The insights gained from leveraging data can help retailers optimize their staffing, reduce operating costs, increase revenue, and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

“What if you could leverage insights to help you better prepare for tomorrow?” Puzak posed.

Must-Dos in the Digital Transformation Journey

The Titan Cloud executive outlined three critical steps required to successfully embark on a digital transformation journey and ensure the journey continually delivers the desired results.

Step 1: People

This is the most critical piece of the equation, Puzak stressed. Choosing the right people and making sure they understand what their roles are and why they’re coming to work every day is of the utmost importance. “People are the core,” he said.

Questions retailers should ask themselves during this step are:

  • Does your existing staff have the skills to move forward?
  • Is your culture bought in?
  • Are they asking the same questions about building with digital transformation in mind?

Step 2: Process

Going from a manual process to a digital one can be challenging. Once the right people are in place, they must understand the full potential of the technology, and build out processes to capture the data points that will help retailers make insightful decisions in the long run.

Questions retailers should ask themselves during this step are:

  • How are you capturing the core data?
  • Of all the workstreams in your company, what is the most important to you?
  • Do you understand common failure points? Are you monitoring that frequently?

“As you go along, the data might reveal that you need to build out additional processes,” Puzak noted.

Step 3: Systems

This step addresses how retailers leverage the data that’s being captured across the organization. Having the right systems in place enables the data to be correlated into a usable format so that actionable analytics can be shared both internally and externally.

Questions retailers should ask themselves during this step are:

  • Do you need to utilize data from multiple systems? If so, do they report similar data?
  • Can you consolidate and simplify your systems into a few or single platform?
  • Are you leveraging your systems to their full potential?

These three core elements — people, process and systems — are a must for a successful digital transformation journey, according to Puzak. “If you don’t have the right people in place, if you don’t have the right processes and systems, then you won’t be able to deliver on your digital transformation journey in a timely manner,” he cautioned.

He also pointed out that the journey continually changes and continually grows. Long term, it’s about the ability to use this information to continually identify failure points and to be more proactive, rather than reactive.

“Move those goal posts as you go and as your objectives evolve,” he said.

An on-demand replay of this webinar, “Digital Transformation How C-Stores Scale for Success,” is available here