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2023 C-store IQ: Technology Report

The new normal.
Michelle Warren smiles
Deep learning , Neural networks , Machine learning and artificial intelligence concept. Atom connect with hand holding mobile phone and blur retail shop store background

The pandemic shifted the adoption of retail technology, with people of all ages and life stages pushed to shop online, embrace delivery, experiment with curbside pick-up and try contactless payment solutions. Three years later, we are seeing a slight dip in the use of some of those services, such as ordering online and pickup curbside, however some habits are taking root to reshape the consumer experience. 

Overall, shoppers report relatively low experience using tech-based shopping tools and methods, particularly when it comes to shopping at convenience stores. However, uptake is on the rise—there’s plenty of room for growth—and shoppers are generally satisfied with the technologies they are using at convenience and gas outlets, according to the 2023 C-store IQ National Shopper Study. Working with the research team at EnsembleIQ, Convenience Store News Canada surveyed more than 2,000 convenience shoppers across the country to examine their wants and needs at retail, specifically convenience and gas.

Compared to a year ago, significantly more shoppers report trying mobile payment apps, mobile coupons and home delivery. Interestingly fewer shoppers report mobile payment at the pumps, which could be a strong indicator that they are also popping in-store to pick up beverages or snacks (note that women prefer this payment method more than men). However, it could also be linked to concerns about credit card theft.

When it comes to home delivery from c-stores, more males than females use the service and users skew younger, with more gen Z and millennials vs. gen X and boomers having tried c-store delivery (this is particularly true for those living in Ontario). The same goes for ordering online and pickup curbside. 

Picking up in-store, however, is embraced by gen Z, millennials, as well as gen X (of note, shoppers in Ontario and Alberta are more likely to use this service vs. Quebec). Overall, millennials are most likely to self-checkout with a retailer’s app, while gen Z are more likely to use a mobile payment app.

All tech-related services receive strong satisfaction scores, but mobile payment app, self-checkout with retailer app and mobile coupon are standouts.

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Five facts about shopping technology

What technologies do shoppers want more from at c-gas?

While still taking the top spots, both the desire for self-checkout at the register and a yearning for drive-thru have decreased five percentage points since last year (note those in Atlantic Canada are most likely to embrace drive-thru). However, mobile pay at the pump holds steady, while the desire for mobile coupons, home delivery and mobile payment apps continues to grow, with scores increasing significantly vs. last year.

Digging deeper, despite increased access and familiarity with contactless checkout, half of c-store shoppers still prefer human Interaction (50%), but a shift towards DIY appears to remain underway with self-checkout at register increasing in preference vs. a year ago.

Interestingly, female shoppers prefer self-checkout at register vs. male shoppers. When it comes to the ultimate self-checkout experience, complete with an app and AI sensors, 15% of shoppers prefer this method, with gen Z, millennials and gen X leading the way.

Overall, shoppers’ comfort with technology has increased dramatically in recent years and the next evolution will be in determining which of these tools and services show staying power by truly enhancing the customer experience.


Drive-thru: Gen X and boomers are more likely to use vs. millennials

Self-checkout at register: Gen X and boomers are more likely to use vs. millennials

Mobile pay at pump: Boomers and gen X more likely to use than gen Z

Mobile coupon/discount: Millennials are the most likely to use this

Contactless using AI sensors : Males more likely to use than females

First published in the September | October 2023 issue of Convenience Store News Canada



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