Adapting Your C-Store Operations to Today’s New Normal
2020 was a challenging year for convenience store retailers. Many adapted to the pandemic by offering new services, such as curbside pickup and online ordering, as well as pre-packaging self-service foods and beverages. They also enhanced how they clean their stores, and ensured that customers wore masks and were able to social distance.
All of this was a response not only to the dangers of the pandemic, but also shifts in how customers wanted to shop in stores. In late 2020, while 91% of customers said they missed shopping in stores, only 28% planned to increase in-store shopping during late 2020 and early 2021. Even today, with more people being vaccinated against COVID-19, many are still wary about being inside stores with other people.
This is only one of many changes that convenience stores are facing in the later stages of the pandemic. While c-stores sold more bulk items, grocery store goods, and perishable foods during the early stages of the pandemic, that will certainly shift as vaccinations increase and customers change their shopping habits. With many people continuing remote work after the pandemic, customers that used to stop at convenience stores while traveling to and from work may not have cause to do so anymore. And this is all happening while c-stores continue to face competition from grocery stores, pharmacies, and quick service restaurants that cater to customers looking to quickly grab a drink or a bite to eat.
This changes the day-to-day work for front-line associates at c-stores. When they need to stock different products, modify pandemic-related signage, pre-package food, or fulfill curbside pickup orders, they’re being held responsible for a greater and more diverse set of tasks. Without a way to prioritize their work or check that they’ve completed it all, they’re bound to make mistakes, leaving expired food on shelves or forgetting to stock shelves properly.
However, by simplifying store execution and streamlining corporate-to-store communication, corporate can ensure that front-line associates are working on the right task at the right time, completing everything that needs to be done in the store.
Empowering Front-Line Employees with Real-Time Store Operations Solutions
Real-time task management simplifies the process of executing tasks and communicating across the organization, providing a 360-degree view of all work that needs to be completed at your stores. By prioritizing the most impactful tasks, such as checking shelves for expired food, and ensuring that the right tasks are being delegated to the right front-line employee, you can eliminate time wasted from employees being unsure what needs to be done and when it needs to be done.
By providing employees with these solutions on mobile devices, you can ensure that they always have the most up-to-date task list available. Front-line employees can be sent alerts and notifications when they need to fulfill a curbside pickup order or remove recalled items from shelves, guaranteeing that all high-priority tasks are taken care of as soon as they are sent to employees. And since store and field managers have immediate visibility into which tasks are open and which have been completed, they can manage by exception, pinpointing key opportunities for improvement and providing support to specific employees who need it.
Real-time communication solutions are also a great way to ensure that front-line employees always have the most up-to-date information. By giving them a way to immediately send and receive messages, they can ask managers for help when they don’t understand new processes, such as curbside pickup or mobile order fulfillment, offering an easy way for managers to follow up with pinpointed training if a task is completed incorrectly.
These solutions also give c-store retailers the ability to utilize message templates and distribution lists to send recurring communication. If curbside pickup procedures change or new products are being sent to stores, you can quickly update the right people, reducing message clutter and ensuring that the right roles are receiving the most relevant information.
Real-time communication solutions also provide you with the tools to audit your communications, a massive advantage over unsanctioned, third-party communication platforms like WhatsApp. You can analyze how often front-line employees are viewing or responding to critical messages, providing insight into how effective your communication efforts are. These solutions offer role-based hierarchies and can also be configured to restrict communication when nonexempt employees aren’t on the clock, ensuring compliance across your entire organization.
Changing customer behavior and increased competition will continue to pose a challenge to convenience store retailers for years to come. With real-time store operations solutions, you can address these challenges head on, ensuring that key initiatives and projects are always completed on time, creating a great experience for your customers.
For more information on how to simplify store execution processes at your convenience stores check out our white paper, “How Intelligent Workforce Scheduling and Task Management Technologies are Reshaping C-Store Operations.”