Whether a consumer visits a convenience store for lunch on hour six of their 14-hour drive for summer vacation or during peak rush hour on a busy Wednesday morning, they are looking for a seamless experience that gets them back on the road quickly.
A common bottleneck that keeps c-stores from offering a convenient experience is the checkout line. During major travel seasons and daily rush hours, a c-store can get backed up in various shopping touchpoints, including the pump, the store or an adjacent quick-service restaurant.
One way to alleviate this negative experience is to offer scan-and-go shopping. At its core, this technology is all about convenience and, as such, it has grown in popularity across the country.
A key aspect of this technology's convenience is the ability to deliver real-time data across all touchpoints. This optimizes and synchronizes the cross-functional convenience store experience and ensures shoppers get back to their plans on time. Let's discuss how real-time data integration can empower scan-and-go technology to unlock unprecedented levels of convenience.
The State of Scan-and-Go at C-stores & Fuel Stations
Scan-and-go technology is still up-and-coming, but many major retailers across industry segments have begun to buy in. For example, Instacart recently launched its first scan-and-go experience at a small market in New York City. Additionally, MAPCO and Amoco stations have tested similar payment opportunities across the country.
The growing popularity of scan-and-go stores is due to convenience and accessibility. Scan-and-go strategies can be applied in stores of all sizes and layouts. This technology also can be integrated through specific in-store tools or via a preexisting store application. It is because of these reasons that the prevalence of scan-and-go technology is expected to triple in the retail industry by 2027.
Benefits of Real-Time Data in a Scan-and-Go Experience
The key to unlocking the full potential of scan-and-go technology is real-time data integration.
This point-of-sale tool can rely on data to ensure a customer has a transparent and personalized experience. In comparison, some companies have tried offering new payment technology without testing customer experiences. Amazon Go stores, for instance, oftentimes do not provide customers with a basket total during their shopping experience. They let the shopper grab all their items and leave before they receive an email with the total price and contents of their basket.
This delay showcases one clear benefit of scan-and-go stores — this technology provides updated costs and basket sizes for shoppers as they navigate the store. Specifically for c-stores, the data can be linked to the fuel pump to include the price of gas, helping shoppers understand the total cost of their pit stop. Offering this real-time transparency is especially important as consumers are wary of overspending due to rising food costs.
Furthermore, scan-and-go technology is accessible to a diverse set of shoppers. The technology is similar to self-checkout counters because each item is scanned and shown on-screen.
And, if a shopper is not comfortable using a smartphone to scan or is saving their phone's charge for a long drive ahead, retailers can offer branded hardware for scan-and-go shoppers.
Long-Term Lessons From In-Store Data
The benefits of scan-and-go technology don't just apply to shoppers. The data and analytics made possible by this tool can be far-reaching for convenience store industry leaders as well.
For example, if a shopper scans items from the bakery in the morning only to see the price and then remove that item, the retailer might be motivated to offer a coupon via the store's loyalty app to entice the shopper to increase their basket size.
Additionally, simply offering the convenience of scan-and-go might encourage shoppers to organically increase their basket size. For instance, the consumer who usually gets lunch at the nearby drive-thru might now save more time by visiting the c-store and scanning a prepacked sandwich on their phone.
If a convenience store is known for having long checkout lines and interrupted shopping journeys, customers will look the other way. Retailers must invest in innovations that turn existing behavior patterns into improvements for the store journey.
Scan-and-go technology is just one accessible and easy-to-integrate strategy for increasing convenience and customer satisfaction across any c-store format.
Michael Jaszczyk is CEO of GK Software USA, where he works to maintain and enhance the company’s global reputation as a supplier of innovative and complete retail software platforms and services. He draws on a 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 article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.