According to a recent Dining Industry report by Bounteous, three macroeconomic challenges—labor, supply chain, and inflation—will have a profound impact on overall restaurant industry performance heading into 2023. Average operator profit margin in the restaurant vertical was 21% prior to the pandemic, but declined to 13% in 2022.

As more convenience retailers enter and expand their efforts in the foodservice realm, restaurants can serve as inspiration. Like restaurateurs, digitally-mature convenience retailers with robust foodservice programs such as Wawa and Casey’s are shifting their focus to retaining existing customers and boosting average check size.

“Today’s c-store consumer is in search of far more than gas and coffee,“ says Arpi Mardirossian, Director of Digital Strategy at Bounteous. “Instead, they want choices and quality when it comes to food. Brands like Wawa and Casey’s excel at meeting customer demand for variety by providing varied menus that feature sandwiches, salads, snacks, pizza, family-style meals, specialty beverages, signature made-to-order items, and more.”

Winning quick-service and full-service brands are keeping customer preferences top of mind while delivering on consumer demand for value, convenience and experience. In order to optimize the user experience, drive incremental purchases and increase average order value, c-store operators must take full advantage of the tech stack already in place and lean into automation where applicable.

“As c-stores continue to mature digitally, utilizing every aspect of the tech stack is imperative,” Mardirossian said. “The past three years were focused on implementing custom apps and websites. Now, amidst new challenges such as inflation and employee retention, it’s time to delve deeper into personalization, self-service technologies, and customer relationship management (CRM) to provide the digital experiences customers want.”

Bounteous, which has deep roots in the restaurant industry, helps restaurants and convenience stores create data-driven strategies, industry-leading online ordering experiences, and innovative loyalty/CRM programs that drive AOV, order frequency and, ultimately, comp sales. Download our State of the Industry & 2023 Outlook, or contact abbey.karel@bounteous.com for more information about how the consultancy works with c-store brands.