Defining success for any vision begins with asking, “What does success look like?” As with any good strategy, we begin the year with a clear set of objectives and key results to measure along the way. When change happens, whether through unforeseen circumstances like COVID-19 or consolidation in the industry, we must deal with new complexities and keep momentum at the same time. Here’s what can help you achieve your vision and manage expectations or changes in your environment.
The impact of change on your retail vision
Convenience retail has experienced a lot of consolidation over the last decade. In recent headlines, we’ve seen the long-anticipated acquisition of Speedway conclude with 7-Eleven being the successful acquirer. We are now consistently seeing this type of change in the convenience retail industry. Whether you’ve acquired a new business to help achieve your retail vision, or your company has been acquired, your first objective will likely be ensuring a successful integration. It’s critical to pay close attention to the impact on your customers and employees, particularly in the early phases of integration where there are many distractions. This will help minimize attrition, encourage collaboration and drive focus.
When an organization is going through an acquisition, retaining talent, expertise and knowledge should always be a priority. For example, following the acquisition of IIS, PDI wanted to protect the industry knowledge, pricing technology expertise, and data science capability, as well as maintain business continuity for customers. Truly understanding the importance of building upon what was already there is vital. Too many point products make it complex and cumbersome to do business, and the convenience retail industry lacks a holistic enterprise software provider. That’s why integrating fuel pricing to an overall solutions portfolio with ERP and loyalty is a critical part of an organizations roadmap to help address this industry challenge.
The importance of consistency and culture
You need to have endurance to get through difficult times like the ones we face today. The way we work, shop, and interact with friends and family has dramatically changed. For many, remote work has become part of their new routine. Providing a consistent and collaborative experience for customers and employees is a critical factor in how we adapt to the new normal. Making the most of technology investments is an integral part of an organizations journey – for example, embracing video calls to meet with colleagues and customers to help keep up relationships. Equally important are investments in cloud infrastructure, which is critical to enabling the next generation of solutions.
Ensuring business continuity and having a customer-centric mindset can assist in maintaining consistency throughout the pandemic. It is important to routinely gather customer feedback through discussions and surveys, like NPS, then apply the feedback to help make decisions, take action and continuously improve.
Convenience retailers understand the importance of their culture. Many started as small, family-owned businesses, and even as they grew, their core values remained. Being true to your core values is so important because it helps you adapt to changes in order to achieve your vision in the face of new challenges and unpredictable circumstances.
Protecting your retail vision
Relationships are key to protecting your retail vision, whether it be with your customers, or within your technology stack. When I was young, I joined the Royal Air Force and what I call my school of life. Among other values, it’s where I learned the importance of building strong relationships.
As the world around us evolves, so do consumer expectations. Consumers have adapted and relied on technology to carry on with everyday life. Although they’re using new technologies, they’re still trying to maintain some sense of normalcy, but their behavior has undoubtedly changed. There has been an increase in consumers relying upon their local convenience stores for items they would have traditionally picked up at their supermarket. Consumers are also trying new ways of shopping like order ahead and home delivery. These changes have shaped how businesses are achieving their retail vision.
We see convenience retailers adapting new loyalty and payment strategies to offer their customers more ways to engage and get the essential items they need. And digital commerce is not something happening soon, it’s here today, and consumers expect businesses to offer more digital experiences and personalization. Having an integrated fuel pricing, loyalty and payments solution can bring visibility to your supply chain and help you keep up with changing consumer expectations. To protect your retail vision, look for ways to connect the data and systems that enable you to manage in-store and fuel inventory while targeting your customers with relevant offers and promotions. Finding the right partner is key. They’ll help you integrate new technology while leveraging your existing investments.
It is possible to balance expectations and reality for your retail vision. Ultimately, it comes down to doing what you say you’re going to do, maintaining strong relationships – both with your customers and employees – and leveraging new technology.