NACS Podcast: Building A Digital Strategy

NACS Podcast: Building A Digital Strategy

July 26, 2021   |   By Natalie Richey

Most of our favorite restaurants have transitioned this past year to offer a plethora of different options to order from whether that be in person, curbside pick-up or even contactless delivery. However, what about your local convenience store? Are they offering a mobile app that is intuitive, easy-to-use and, most importantly, delivers real value? In this podcast hosted by NACS, the host, Donovan Woods, and his co-host, Chris Blasinsky, invite our VP of Strategy and Consulting, Matt Carinio, and our Director of Business Development, Sam Herro, to discuss how convenience store owners can take the next step in their digital journey.

Interestingly enough from a survey conducted by Sam, he found that out of a 1000 convenience store customers that 84% of them would use a mobile app if it saved them time and money. This goes to show that digital has become an acceptance, except, a widening gap between what is being offered and the expectations of customers still persists. The bottom line is that customers expect to have cross channel digital services that equally feel and match the physical experience.

So how do you make convenience store owners comfortable with diving into their digital journey? Matt responds to Chris’s question by explaining that Hathway’s approach first starts with taking a step back to analyze what are the customer’s touch points and how we can create a holistic approach that includes a digital maturity model in such a disruptive market. Every brand is at a different stage in their digital journey with different end goals so analyzing their wants, simplifying the situation for them and constantly guiding them through each step in the model is huge in making them feel comfortable. Sam comments that an app is not a strategy, it is a tool that will guide us in the direction we need to take in the journey.

In addition, Matt and Sam explain that on each level of the digital maturity model, Hathway has partnerships that integrate technology capabilities such as e-commerce, CRM, marketing, etc. so the technology stacks are readily available depending on the brand’s vision. In the case that a brand’s digital DNA is relatively small, the two touch on the utilization of white label solutions to create custom experiences. White label solutions ultimately get the brand off their feet and move through the digital maturity model quicker through the use of point of sale systems and third party platforms that offer commerce functionality. Although, when a brand is ready for more personalization and customizable features, that is essentially “Hathway’s bread and butter” as Matt puts it for brands to differentiate and accelerate.

Wrapping up the podcast, the hosts inquire where the c-store industry is headed taking into account that the industry is evolving each day and 90% of c-store businesses haven’t taken significant digital steps in their journeys. Matt explains that many c-store brands are in the process or will soon realize they will have to redefine their brand and brand objectives, whether that be QSR, fast and casual or limited service restaurants, in order to bring the most value to their customers. The greatest source of knowledge is not focusing on what the customer is doing but rather understanding the motivations and the “why” behind the customer’s decisions. Infusing the customer’s motivations into your strategy will be the prime source of success moving forward for c-stores.