Welcome to our Koupon News Update series, where we share news and trends that are shaping the convenience store industry! In this week's update, learn about the most recent c-store winner in customer satisfaction, Walmart's new strategy with robots, and Amazon's new grocery pickup service.
C-Store Retailer Trends
Thorntons Takes Top Spot Among Gas Retailers for Customer Satisfaction
- EnergyPoint Research named Thorntons Inc. as the top-ranked retailer in its 2018 Gasoline Retailers Customer Satisfaction Survey. Along with achieving the top overall rating for total customer satisfaction, Thorntons also received first place ratings in service quality and value.
- Pennsylvania-based Wawa Inc. came in second overall with customers. It earned top marks for convenience and ease, as well as for its loyalty and rewards program. Wawa also rated first in total satisfaction in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions.
- Insight: Thorntons is leading the pack in customer satisfaction with best-in-class loyalty and mobile offer strategies.
Murphy USA Strikes Chord With Loyalty Test
- In addition to how the company is weathering the summer rise in gasoline prices and seeing upbeat numbers for merchandise sales, officials speaking on Murphy USA Inc.’s second-quarter earnings call expressed a high degree of optimism over a loyalty pilot underway at about 200 stores in northern Texas and Tennessee.
- Since the pilot began June 1, Andrew Clyde, president and CEO for Murphy USA, said about 1 million customers have registered. “Six percent of the state of Tennessee has signed up,” he said during the Aug. 1 call. “We know that it’s a platform that works, that our great sales associates can sell it and our customers want it. The key is to create value from it.”
- Insight: Murphy USA is seeing the benefits that a loyalty program with offers can bring.
Walmart to pilot Alphabot robotics for grocery pickup
- Walmart is piloting the use of storage and retrieval robotics, dubbed Alphabot, to increase the speed of online grocery order pickup, according to a blog post.
- The technology, which was developed in collaboration between Walmart and startup Alert Innovation, is being installed in a 20,000 square foot extension of a Salem, New Hampshire supercenter, which will also be a dedicated pickup point for groceries. Walmart said it will be operational by the end of this year, while regular grocery pickup will begin at the store on October 1. Grocery delivery also will be initiated in the coming months.
- Insight: Walmart is taking a play from Amazon's supply chain and using robots to fill customer orders for pickup.
The Suburban C-Store of 2025
- The year 2025 will be a period of technological transition, and digital commerce program provider Stuzo predicts convenience stores will embody that change.
- Stuzo has assembled a video outlining its vision of the suburban c-store of the future. CEO Gunter Pfau shared an early version of the video with Conexxus Annual Conference attendees in Chicago in May. “We’re outsiders coming in with a very different perspective of your industry,” said Pfau, and the content is a clear departure from the gas, smokes and Cokes model.
- Insight: Koupon's partner Stuzo has brought the c-store of the future to life.
Amazon launches grocery pickup at select Whole Foods
- Amazon today is continuing to make good on its Whole Foods acquisition by introducing a new grocery pickup service at select Whole Foods locations in the U.S. The service, which is available only to Prime members, will initially be available at stores in Sacramento and Virginia Beach, but will expand to more cities through the year. Customers will be able to place their orders using Amazon’s Prime Now app or on the web via PrimeNow.com, then pick up in as little as 30 minutes, Amazon says.
- Customers will be able to shop Whole Foods’ fresh and organic produce, bakery, dairy, meat and seafood, floral, and other staples, then pick up their order in an hour from their local Whole Foods Market.
- Insight: Amazon and Whole Foods are working together to leverage merger synergies to better serve customers.
McDonald's reveals new tech-focused flagship store in Chicago
- McDonald's revealed in a blog post a new 19,000-square-foot flagship restaurant in Chicago, Illinois, that's been designed with a mind toward modern, environmentally friendly features and a number of tech-focused consumer experiences.
- The restaurant, which opened Aug. 9, includes self-order kiosks, table service, mobile ordering and payment and delivery, as well as an increased focus on hospitality through what the company calls guest experience leaders. It has outdoor seating, a park area and plazas, along with a separate McCafe area with a baked goods display.
- Insight: C-store retailers should watch McDonalds and consider the new technologies at the flagship store.