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Two-Thirds of C-stores Hampered by Legacy Infrastructure During COVID-19 Pandemic

retail technology

NATIONAL REPORT — The recent COVID-19 pandemic shifted how the convenience channel does business and put retailers' technology capabilities into focus.

In a recent survey by Censuswide on behalf of Zynstra, an NCR company, found that inflexible infrastructure delayed convenience store retailer from adapting their store operations. Specifically, 63 percent of respondents said legacy infrastructure held them back from making changes.

In addition, 81 percent of c-store retailers said COVID-19 elevated the role IT plays in the eyes of C-level decision makers, with 100 percent of c-store retailers with 500-plus stores identifying this as a new reality.

Sixty-four of the survey respondents also identified the need to adapt their technology to keep up with newly formed consumer behaviors.

Despite the need to pivot during the pandemic, c-store retailers faced several IT challenges. As for those challenges, the survey found:

  • 44 percent cited speed of adoption of new technology by store associates due to resistance to change;
  • 43 percent cited cost of new devices required to meet the needs of new customer buying habit;
  • 40 percent cited complex manual order process for takeaway/home delivery due to third party tablet integrations;
  • 36 percent cited cost of sending technicians out to site to maintain IT equipment and systems; and
  • 33 percent cited speed of deploying new technology new devices due to legacy infrastructure.

Only 2 percent of respondents identified that there were no IT challenges facing their store estate during COVID-19.

Legacy technology is also an obstacle as c-store retailers move to catch up with mobile technology. Retailers said they were unable to implement the following initiatives quickly enough in response to COVID-19:

  • Mobile payment apps (33 percent)
  • Home delivery (31 percent)
  • Self checkout (29 percent)
  • Mobile POS tablets for checkout by store associate (29 percent)
  • Mobile pay at the pump (28 percent)

"The past few months of the pandemic have merely accelerated many of the technology realizations c-stores were struggling with prior to the crisis. While the need for convenience stores remains stronger than ever, rising labor costs, PPE equipment and revised store layouts coupled with day-to-day infrastructure, support and maintenance costs continue to eat into c-stores' operational efficiency," said Nick East, co-founder and CEO, Zynstra.

"In parallel, the rapid changes in consumer buying habits due to social distancing, such as curbside collection, full-service fueling, click and collect, home delivery, grab and go and more, continue to place pressure on convenience fuel retail businesses' bottom line," he added.

The survey was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Zynstra, which polled 103 senior level U.S. IT managers and business directors from large convenience and convenience fuel retail businesses with store estates ranging from a minimum of 20 to more than 500 stores.

To read the fill survey, click here.

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