The Convenience Store Comeback Meets Software Solutions

Written by LS Retail | 21 January 2015

The Convenience Store Comeback Meets Software Solutions
"The secret of successful retailing is to give your customers what they want. And really, if you think about it from your point of view as a customer, you want everything: a wide assortment of good-quality merchandise; the lowest possible prices; guaranteed satisfaction with what you buy; friendly, knowledgeable service; convenient hours; ... a pleasant shopping experience." - Sam Walton (1918-1992)
A few decades ago, large supermarkets were the rage, offering consumers more food and other choices at lower prices that the local guy. Many people back then feared that the hypermarkets or big box stores would close downtowns forever. Well, now chains are downsizing, with even giant Walmart opening scaled–down stores in convenient, high-traffic locations. (Walmart’s new “Neighborhood Markets” now number over 350. There‘s also “Walmart Express,“ a chain of smaller discount stores.) Shoppers worldwide are becoming used to seeing their supermarket downsizing and moving downtown, closer to where people actually live, work and play. Floor sizes of supermarkets are dropping alongside average spending at the big chains, according to Nielsen, a market-research firm. Why? According to a recent “The Economist explains” piece, the 2007-8 financial crisis provoked food shoppers to reduce waste, buying less more frequently. There were fewer and fewer jumbo carts of food, much of which ends up in the bin at the end of the week. As the economy recovered, and demographics and lifestyles changed, convenience stores have expanded their appeal. It’s almost a marketing cliché that growing groups like busy single people and the elderly prefer the smaller shops to mega-stores, be it for speed or ease of navigation. They’re not called “convenience” stores for nothing. These more urban people ask: Why get in a car to shop? Why do you need to hike a mile down store aisles for a couple of items? Why do supermarkets always put the milk way at the back of the store? Why are there a dozen other people in the check-out line? Why is someone fumbling with their money when I’m in a hurry? Convenience stores are becoming more like mini-supermarkets, with more and healthier choices than the old style junk food and smoke shops. Walking to the corner store is becoming the norm in many towns and cities, particularly among young adults, for whom owning a car – much less parking it downtown at steep rates – are alien concepts. Why not bike or walk a few blocks? Pick up a prepared dinner on the way home? See if my favorite sushi is there before I get off at the next stop? So, convenience is trendy, if more expensive, item-for-item: regular consumers at neighborhood stores tend to spend nearly two-thirds more each month than those who drive to big box discount stores, according to a Transport for London survey. Given these new realities, LS Retail‘s practical software solutions are already in use at convenience and small grocery chains worldwide. These solutions are helping convenience stores deal with their profitability problem; while they may charge higher prices than supermarkets, higher operating costs take a toll on their bottom line. LS Retail products, be it LS Omni, with its innovative new mobile apps to create baskets of products and accept payments through mobile POS, or LS First and LS One retail solutions for small and medium business, can bolster this trend, which shows every sign of being an enduring one. These practical retailing solutions can efficiently and pleasantly move customers in and out of the store, supplied for the day, or maybe two! Convenience stores and urban grocery outlets stand more than ever to benefit from the robust, flexible and easy-to-use retail software solutions. These start with tablet and mobile POS. Store operators and owners can also exploit new member and loyalty portal and smartphone solutions, Omni-channel all-in-one solutions and advanced merchandising tools. They can also use LS Retail software solutions to reduce risk and capital binding, get and control more foot traffic, handle inventory in smarter and more efficient ways, get more sales without charging less and make price less relevant, with more loyal customers. These are all keys to thriving in the “new normal“ of urban shopping.