Convenience Store News

NOV 2014

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WWW.CSNEWS.COM | Store of the Future 25 The Connected Consumer Shoppers will plug in to c-store products and services in entirely new ways By Don Longo O K. So there are no "Jetsons"-style fly- ing cars. No human colonies on the moon. And no transporter system like the one Captain Kirk uses to beam down from the Starship Enterprise to some far away planet. However, if "practical futurist" Michael Rogers is to be believed, the impact of technological advance- ments will change the world significantly in the not- too-distant future. In fact, by the early 2020s, Rogers predicts Americans will be living in an almost Matrix- like networked, virtual world. "We are just at the beginning of the virtualization of America and the world," Rogers said at a Future of Technology workshop at last month's NACS Show in Las Vegas. "More and more of what we are doing is going into the cyberworld. We are building a layer of information that sits atop the real world. You'll be sur- prised at how much can move into the virtual world." Convenience Store News spoke with Rogers and several technology exhibitors at the show to get their visions of how consumers will interact with conve- nience stores 10 or 20 years from now. "Customers will continue to look for convenience and c-store owners will continue to access real-time information from anywhere in the world," said Sergey Gorlov, CEO of Petrosoft Inc., which used the 2014 NACS Show to officially launch an all-in-one point-of- sale system called SmartPOS. Gorlov, whose company also operates more than 20 convenience stores in the Pittsburgh area, is uniquely positioned to talk about both retailer needs and technology development. He believes customers' definition of convenience will evolve based on their tastes and lifestyle, which will be reflected in their demand for c-store product items (inventory) and services — which are continuing to grow. "For the c-store owner, what will change is what real-time information is needed across the supply chain from internal data sources to maximize their profits," continued Gorlov. "Responsiveness will be key as customers' tastes evolve and as c-store owners look to take advantage of the ever-shrinking windows of opportunity." Today's increasingly networked world is just accel- erating these changes. Rogers believes changes will come about faster than most people think. There's a new exponential theory of change called Metcalf's Law that says the value of a network grows as a square of the number of people attached to it. "We've seen this network effect disrupt whole industries," he said, citing Uber's impact on the taxi industry, Airbnb's influence on the travel industry and the impact of peer-to-peer online lending clubs on the banking industry. The biggest "networked" impact on retailing, though, will be the fact that consumers will always be connected to the Internet. That connection will take place through their bodies, clothes and automobiles. Wearable technology is here already. Advances in curved OLED (organic light emitting diode) screens will make watch/bracelet computers powered by body Connected car technology will provide a new way for consumers to interact with convenience stores.

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