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Convenience store technology helps C-stores stay competitive

24 Jan 2018 Blog
Robin Hoover

Robin HooverIn today’s fiercely competitive retail environment, convenience store technology is one thing (apart from customers) that convenience stores can’t do without. Time-starved consumers rely on convenience stores to get in and out quickly, whether it’s to purchase fuel, a made-to-order lunch or to get cash from an in-store ATM.

According to research conducted by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), convenience stores have unmatched speed of transaction. The study reveals that it takes customers an average 3 to 4 minutes to walk in, purchase an item or two and depart. To achieve this quickness, C-stores rely on retail automation to help them deliver what their name implies: convenience.

It’s a fast & furious race for C-stores just to remain competitive as today’s players not only work diligently to keep pace with one another, but with grocery stores, fast-casual and quick-service restaurants and discount retailers, too. Not to mention the newest C-store player that opened this week ‒ Amazon Go.

While implementing new technology might seem costly, what’s the price to pay when consumers no longer find your store convenient? Take the convenience out of the convenience store and chances are, your customers will take their hurried selves to the speedier competitor down the road.

Customers loathe long lines at the checkout

convenience store technologyEven in a digital age, most consumers like in-store shopping: to brush their fingers across a garment, to take in the aroma of a freshy baked cookie, to purchase something unexpected on the spot. But study after study shows that the number-one dislike of shopping at any bricks-and-mortar retailer is long lines. Let’s wander for a moment down a different path before coming back to this point.

Most convenience store purchases are smaller-ticket items: over-the-counter medications, tobacco products, beer and increasingly, even fresh food. For these items, consumers tend to pay for them with cash ‒ meaning many convenience store purchases are made with cash.

Cash: Consumers’ top method of payment at C-stores

In fact, a 2016 study conducted and released by Cardtronics reveals that cash is the most frequently used payment method for the majority of convenience store purchases at 63 percent.

So, in order to stay competitive, convenience stores should have an efficient and accurate process for managing their cash. And to earn repeat business, they must also ensure long lines aren’t a problem at checkout…back to my earlier point.

Manually counting and handling cash is time-consuming, inefficient, inconvenient and at times, even unsafe – especially when you have lone employees working late into the night. Since many C-stores are open 24/7, a sole employee is often the only one on the premises to run a register and oversee the entire store – during those long nighttime hours. They’re often unable to leave the register when too much or too little cash is on hand. Doing so puts employees, customers and your business at risk.

So, how else can you ensure that your cash is protected, managed and even optimized? Cash management technology helps protects both employee and employer in numerous ways. It streamlines cash handling processes, reduces cash loss and increases security as well. Depending on the device, it automatically counts bills and coins, which allows employees to focus on other tasks; it fires alerts when skims or replenishments are needed, so you have the right amount of cash on hand at any given time; and it even provides date- and time-stamped receipts in the event a loss occurs. Which makes loss prevention’s job easier.

Even if you own or operate one C-store or an entire chain, investing in cash management technology will enable you to drive efficiencies, reduce loss, have consistent cash handling processes, and generate time savings for employees and customers alike. If not, perhaps you aren’t quite as convenient as you could be – or as your closest competitor.

Automated cash handling a must in convenience store technology

There are several cash management technology tools on the market…from cash counters to intelligent safes to intelligent cash drawers and their accompanying data-driven software.

Take the Tellermate T-ix series of cash counters, which includes the touchscreen-enabled Tellermate Touch, for instance. They’re easy to use and have an intuitive menu structure, making cash transactions a breeze. They count an entire cash drawer in 60 seconds or less – freeing up busy cashiers to perform other tasks and minimizing the time needed for end-of-shift counts. Even if a customer decides to pay for her custom-made café au lait with a handful of coins, the cash counter can automatically verify the amount on the spot.

Intelligent cash drawer provides real-time visibility of cash

For even better control and visibility of their cash, convenience stores can also take advantage of LiveDrawer™, a software/hardware solution that provides real-time visibility of the cash in a drawer. It virtually eliminates cash loss at the point of sale, deters internal theft and significantly reduces time spent counting the drawer. Whether on-site or remote. LiveDrawer even gives management the ability to turn on alerts that show when cashiers give the wrong change, allowing them to correct the mistake immediately. And get your customers in and out of your store quickly.

The adoption of convenience store technology has helped C-stores come a long way in a competitive and ever-shifting marketplace. Those implementing speedier methods of serving customers are attracting and retaining a greater share of the market. Those who aren’t are quickly being left behind.

UK-based convenience store chain, Spar, has partnered with Tellermate to fit 300-plus locations with automated cash counters that protect both company profits and staff. Download the Spar case study to find out how convenience store technology helped Spar – and can help you, too.

Spar Case Study

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