Convenience stores have evolved to become much more than quick fuel and snack shops. Modern c-stores are dynamic retail environments that can offer tremendous customer experiences. For example, Wawa and 7-Eleven both recently debuted drive-thru restaurants, QuikTrip launched an on-lot pickup service, and Circle K gas stations in Sweden began allowing customers to pay by license plate.
As convenience stores are naturally becoming more forward-looking, COVID-19 is accelerating the importance of digital transformation, according to a recent Gartner survey. The survey found that 87 percent of corporate directors deem technology as having a transformational role in addressing strategic business priorities.
Headless commerce, which is defined as the separation of the front and back ends of an e-commerce application, can enable digital transformation and help c-stores offer omnichannel capabilities across multiple touchpoints. In particular, headless commerce can allow convenience stores to power app-less technology, implement a modern POS, and offer more personalized customer experiences.
Headless commerce systems are API-driven, which means they are built to allow for easy integration and communication between platforms. As a result, the technology can be used to power app-less technology that is accessed via any internet browser and connected to a variety of back-end systems.
Modern retail demands flexibility and control; app-less technology is not tied to an app store, allowing updates and changes to be made at any time.
For c-stores looking to empower customers, app-less technology delivers all the benefits of an app without any friction on the shopper’s end. Providing additional accessibility and an improved user experience, app-less technology helps retailers drive customer adoption and usage rates.
In addition, headless commerce-powered app-less technology can support emerging digital tools, such as scan-and-go, self-checkout, order fulfillment, buy online/pick up in-store (BOPIS), and new payment methods.
Because headless commerce connects multiple systems, it offers c-store retailers a unified approach, wherein data is transferred quickly between platforms, and updates can be seamlessly made in the background. This approach makes the technology uniquely positioned to power a modern point-of-sale (POS).
Consider the fact that there are 50 to 60 micro-services that make up a single payment transaction. Headless commerce not only ensures these happen seamlessly, but it can also allow the retailer to update technologies in the background since updates do not interfere with the customer’s POS interface.
Throughout the pandemic, convenience stores have seen accelerated use of mobile order and mobile pay as shoppers look for safe payments that decrease their time spent in-store. A fully integrated mobile POS can power these payment types and provides:
- Reduced lines, as shoppers get in and out of the store while filling up their car;
- Convenience, as consumers quickly purchase and pick up what they need;
- Competitive differentiation by integrating loyalty programs, unique app design and speed of service; and
- Even more variety of payment options, from tap-and-pay to QR codes.
Personalized customer experiences are at a retailer’s fingertips when using headless commerce, which can efficiently connect marketing insight, customer data and sales insight to digital engagement platforms. C-stores can go beyond a typical “people who purchased this product also purchased this product” to offering rewards, discounts and engagement built on deep consumer understanding.
For example, as a shopper uses her mobile device to order and pay for an item, a c-store can offer a discount on an item she recently purchased. Better yet, the convenience store can combine a variety of technologies, such as QR codes, store finders or push notifications powered by intelligent beacons, to digitally transform a traditional store and personalize the shopper’s interactions during her store visit.
Headless commerce powers the store of the future. For retailers looking to create an agile, personalized and, most of all, unified customer experience, leveraging headless commerce to power the convenience store of the future is the perfect fit.
With headless commerce, retailers are entirely unrestricted when it comes to developing unique technology offerings. Customers benefit from the personalized, seamless digital engagements they desire, while retailers benefit from unified platforms, easy updates and a differentiated experience.
Michael Jaszczyk is CEO of GK Software USA, where he works to maintain and enhance the company’s global reputation as the supplier of one of the most innovative and complete retail software platforms and suite of services. He draws on an extensive wealth of experience, both in software development for the retail sector and as a manager at international IT companies.
Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.