State of the fuel and convenience retail industry

Today, the fuel and convenience retail industry faces a critical inflection point. Two main factors are accelerating industry disruption: the onset of COVID-19 driving a substantial decrease in demand, and an increase in oil supply, triggering a significant drop in oil prices.

Consumer habits are shifting from in-store to virtual purchases. New competitors are emerging. Store consolidation is squeezing margins. And with improved fuel efficiency, the advent of electric vehicles, and an increase in ride-sharing, demand for motor fuel has been on the decline.

Fuel and convenience retailers will need to account for the additional overhead that comes with owning or operating a c-store in both the near-term and long-term. Ultimately, strategies need to be implemented to limit operational issues, keep employees and consumers safe, and position their businesses for the next wave of change.

4 key areas for fuel and convenience retail to focus on now and next

What can fuel and convenience retailers do now—and next—to address critical, immediate people-needs of their business?

Enhance consumers’ in-store safe, contact-less experiences

  • Provide a tailored shopping experience that helps consumers feel connected.
  • Limit risks by providing safe interaction consistent with state and local safety guidance.

Accelerate technology investment

  • Build relationships to drive loyalty.
  • Plan to operationalize digital investments and foster innovative partnerships to enhance consumer engagement.

Build employee loyalty and invest in employees

  • Ensure employees feel safe at work and are inspired and equipped to provide care and service.
  • Attract top employees and keep the people who are the backbone your consumers rely on.

Rethink products and services

  • Focus on the increased demand for essential items and the shift toward online and convenience stores.
  • Meet consumers’ evolving needs and provide a wide array of products and services.

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Navigating with solutions for consumers and employees

How do fuel and convenience retailers transition through these challenging times to ensure their company thrives into the future?

1. Be aware of crisis

Take immediate actions to focus on safety while addressing government guidelines.

2. Navigate the crisis

Reimagine new ways of working and how to serve consumers while sustaining operations during the crisis.

3. Restore confidence

Establish new normal standards, focusing on quick-win opportunities that boost confidence.

4. Enable growth

Transform the future of convenience and grow consumer loyalty through new and innovative offerings.

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Fuel and convenience retailers must act now to address the far-reaching implications of COVID-19 and the oil market impacts to preserve the business and ultimately enable growth.

Key takeaways

  1. Prioritize which initiatives will create a positive consumer experience and become part of daily life.
  2. Determine which consumer behaviors will stick is a combination of the industry disruptors that accelerated new behaviors, like focusing on sanitation/safety, and how positive the experience was for the consumer during the crisis.
  3. Consider how to improve the consumer experience for those behaviors that did have a high impact (like delivery services and contactless fueling) to increase the likelihood that they’ll become a permanent behavior and drive consumer loyalty.

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