Zynstra, an NCR Company, recently polled c-store retailers across North America to identify how technology priorities have shifted amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey identified the most critical technology lessons c-stores have learned during this time, which are outlined below.
The company reported that the most notable finding is 63 percent of respondents identified that legacy infrastructure held them back from making changes, responding that an inflexible infrastructure delayed the speed at which they would have liked to adapt their store operations.
In addition, Zynstra found that technology priorities took center stage amidst the COVID-19 pandemic:
- 81 percent of c-store retailers said COVID-19 has elevated the role IT plays in the eyes of c-level decision makers, with 100 percent of c-store retailers with 500+ stores identifying this as a new reality
- 64 percent of survey respondents identified they need to adapt their technology to keep up with newly formed consumer behaviors
The survey shows that speed, cost and complexity of IT are slowing innovation. When asked about the main IT challenges faced during COVID-19, the overall impact on staff productivity, speed to market and ability to quickly remediate store IT issues is as follows:
- 44 percent said speed of adoption of new technology by store associates due to resistance to change
- 43 percent said cost of new devices required to meet the needs of new customer buying habits
- 40 percent said complex manual order process for takeaway/home delivery due to third-party tablet integrations (Door Dash, Uber Eats, GrubHub, etc.)
- 36 percent said cost of sending technicians out to site to maintain IT equipment & systems
- 33 percent said speed of deploying new technology and devices due to legacy infrastructure
- 2 percent of respondents identified that there were no IT challenges facing their store estate during COVID-19.
Zynstra reports that mobile technology is one of the technology priorities for c-stores, but legacy technology poses barriers. The following are technologies that c-store retailers have been unable to implement quickly enough in response to COVID-19:
- 33 percent mobile payment apps
- 31 percent home delivery
- 29 percent self-checkout
- 28 percent mobile POS tablets for checkout by store associate
- 28 percent mobile pay at the pump
“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 & collect, home delivery, grab & go and more, continue to place pressure on convenience fuel retail businesses’ bottom line.”
To read the full survey and learn about some of the next steps for c-stores, click here.