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How convenience stores can overcome the uncertainty of the 2021 holiday shopping season

Using technology to create marketing and promotional strategies with an ever-increasing amount of variables is key.
welcome open. sign board through the glass of store window.

The 2021 holiday shopping season is upon us, and many retailers throughout the industry - including grocery and convenience stores - are set to face unprecedented levels of disruption.

Uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 virus and any potential future lockdowns or tightening of social restrictions are a major reason for this, and that is made all the worse when you combine it with the ongoing unreliability of the global supply chain.

Due to their very nature, convenience stores have historically been ahead of the curve in implementing new technologies to increase customer convenience like self-scanning options - or even the no-checkout options being offered by Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh - and because of this, their customers have increased consumer expectations.

Ensuring they continue to provide the level of ease and convenience that their customers expect will be no easy challenge for convenience stores with the added complexities and challenges of today’s retail landscape during one of the busiest and most critical shopping periods of the year.

Because of the technologies convenience stores tend to employ - which offer multiple buying options and channels for their customers – they, more than anyone, are being tasked with putting together marketing and promotional strategies with an ever-increasing amount of variables, without much of an ability to accurately predict what this holiday shopping season will entail.

Developing multiple promotions strategies

The rising popularity of innovative check-out, pick-up, and delivery options across the retail industry allowed retailers of all kinds to remain agile during the pandemic.

But those very same options present complex challenges to convenience stores and their marketing teams tasked with developing strategies with the objective of driving customer loyalty, growing basket sizes, and delivering revenue this holiday season. This is especially true while trying to manage the uncertainty of potential lockdowns or increased social restrictions that could affect one region differently than another.

In an effort to support their marketing efforts, they should be building multiple strategies, including simultaneous marketing plans that can be swapped in and out at the click of a button depending on particular market conditions.

Powering multiple strategies with sophisticated solutions

Achieving this level of agility in today’s retail landscape is a difficult task but one major step towards that goal that convenience store retailers can take is implementing a sophisticated promotion execution and offer management platform that can enable consistent execution of complex, overlapping offers across channels, devices, banners, locations and loyalty status.

Equipping themselves with an automated single unified solution like this allows convenience store operators to manage and execute their range of complex promotional offerings across all channels, and enables them to compete in an extremely fast-paced retail environment.

This becomes especially useful for convenience stores who operate multiple banners and stores across a range of cities, regions, and countries - which often come with their own unique geographical traits and consumer behaviours -  as they can manage all of their promotions from one central system, including the ability to tweak and change their digital offers, personalizing them for each digital channel, store groupings, or each individual store, as the market dictates.

A unified management solution gives convenience store operators the flexibility to create unique offers and promotions for each market and submarket that they serve, right down to single stores, whilst also enabling them to react quickly to ever-changing market conditions brought upon by the uncertainty of the pandemic and changing consumer expectations.

Driving customer loyalty through unique promotions

The flexibility that is provided by complex promotions management solutions also enables the creation of unique strategies and personalized promotions that can be targeted to individual customers, something that the modern consumer has come to expect like never before.

Based on retailers and their marketing manager’s level of understanding of the purchasing and browsing behaviours of their customer base, they are able to create targeted offers just for them, no matter if they use any of the new and innovative shopping channels available today. This is an incredibly powerful and effective tool in driving customer loyalty, no matter the landscape or geographical location of the customer.

While in the past, retailers of all kinds - including convenience stores - often managed their promotions and engagement through disparate systems. This resulted in a fragmented and inconsistent experience for customers across channels. By equipping marketing teams with a unified platform to manage and execute all of their offers and promotions across stores and all digital channels, you will ultimately support the continued development of your organizations’ omni-channel efforts and the experience they offer customers.

This makes sophisticated promotion management solutions exactly the kind of tool that will enable convenience stores to incentivize and reward their customers during the important upcoming 2021 holiday shopping season, and help them to not only increase basket size and overall spend, but also to drive customer loyalty at a time where it has never been more vital to a retailer’s success.

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Dan Surtees is VP of strategy and business development for XCCommerce

Dan Surtees is VP of strategy and business development for XCCommerce. XCCommerce is a industry leader in promotion management and execution, helping the world’s foremost brands drive growth and customer loyalty. For 20 years, XCCommerce has delivered retailers an omni-channel customer experience, with the power and speed to manage, execute and analyze complex promotional offerings, across all sales channels.

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