Zynstra, a leading provider of purpose-built software powering the retail edge, today released its C-Store Technology Insight Report, which identifies the key priorities and obstacles c-store retailers face as they look to deliver better customer experiences at reduced operational cost. The survey, conducted on behalf of Zynstra by Censuswide, found that the majority of c-store retailers can offer only the most basic functions, given the limitations of current IT infrastructure and the difficulty of bringing new technology into the stores.

According to the survey, c-store retailers face IT barriers when trying to adapt their store footprints:

  • 96% of c-store directors and IT managers agreed that if it was easier to implement new applications and services, they would do it more often.
  • Only 49% of respondents said their current store IT infrastructure was an engine for innovation and delivering new in-store customer experiences.

As c-stores map out their plans for in-store technology innovation, the top priorities are identifying how to overcome IT cost challenges, solving aging hardware pain points and meeting the need for faster service during peak shopping hours.

 

C-Store Retailers Struggle to Meet the Demands of Shoppers During Peak Trading Hours

Based on feedback from U.S. c-store directors and IT directors, many c-stores are ill equipped to maximize sales and accelerate checkout during strong seasonal periods and peak rush hour visits:

  • Only 37% of c-store retailers answered that their current IT system is “very prepared” to cope with consumer checkout demand during busy periods
  • Similarly, 55% of respondents said their IT infrastructure is “somewhat or not very prepared” to cope with the increased need for uptime
  • 55% of respondents said their IT infrastructure is “somewhat or not very prepared” to roll out seasonal promotions

C-Store Retailers Face an Uphill IT Battle

The Zynstra survey also revealed that more than 49% of respondents say the high cost and risk of downtime associated with replacing store infrastructure to bring it up to date is their top IT challenge, preventing them from deploying new technology to improve the customer experience and lower costs.

Other IT challenges identified by survey respondents include:

  • High costs associated with compliance and security protocols
  • Inability to cope with lines during peak trading hours and high season
  • Inability to offer upsell promotions from multiple touchpoints in the store and at the pump
  • Aging hardware infrastructure that’s expensive to maintain
  • Inability to bring new features, apps and digital engagement inside the store due to POS limitations with existing systems

Future C-Store IT Initiatives

Looking ahead, c-stores indicate that their top IT priorities include upgrading customer loyalty initiatives, improving staff productivity through technology, reducing cost and improving operational efficiencies, enhancing the security of their IT stores, and utilizing technology to improve the shopping experience.

The top services outlined to support future business strategies and deliver higher levels of convenience are:

  • Home delivery capabilities
  • Mobile pay at the pump
  • Self-checkout
  • Order online, pickup in-store
  • Mobile payment apps
  • Order at the pump

“Unprecedented consumer expectations are putting pressure on c-stores to create new levels of consumer engagement and convenience. Increasingly, technology is seen as the answer,” said Nick East, CEO and founder, Zynstra. “The caveat here is that c-store retailers can’t do it alone. They need the right technology to meet customer needs and gain a competitive advantage.”

Methodology: The findings are the results from a Censuswide survey of c-store directors and IT managers from U.S. convenience store chains with a physical footprint of 20 to more than 500 locations and average revenue between $10M to more than $999M.

To download the full report, click here.