Convenience Store News

JAN 2017

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80 Convenience Store News | JANUARY 2017 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM Enterprise + POS + Digital + Payment Systems + Business Intelligence TECHNOLOGY W hen it comes to innovation in the conve- nience store industry, technology often takes center stage as retailers try to stay one step ahead of their competition both inside and outside the channel. At the inaugural C-store Technology Leadership Dinner, hosted by Convenience Store News and its sister company EKN Research, technology execu- tives from across the convenience channel gathered to share their insights on where the future of retail tech is headed. The event took place the evening of Oct. 17 at Atlanta's City Winery restaurant. Hot topics around the dinner table included Amazon, mobile, EMV, and loyalty programs. While many commended Amazon's efforts to meet the demands of today's increasingly tech-savvy world, all of the retailers in attendance agreed that customer service still reigns supreme in the convenience store industry. "At the end of the day, it comes down to the people, and the experience for the consumers," one attendee remarked. "The c-store experience is something you can't put in an Amazon box," another retailer added. The customer experience can be enhanced using technology, though. Mobile technologies, in particular. One attendee pointed to the Pilot Flying J chain as a top mobile performer in the industry. Pilot Flying J's app "flows seamlessly" with what the Knoxville, Tenn.-based travel center operator's customers can do inside the store, the retailer commented. For exam- ple, the app lets professional drivers reserve a shower or a parking space. Not all regions of the country, however, are as quick to embrace the use of mobile — or even credit/ debit cards — when shopping at a convenience store. One Mississippi operator explained that its rural stores still ring up 80 percent of transactions in cash. With the goal of keeping cus- tomers coming back to the store, loyalty programs are among the key initiatives being worked on by convenience store retailers' technol- ogy departments across the United States. Participants in the C-store Technology Leadership Dinner agreed that it's not only about captur- ing the loyalty data, but also finding the opportuni- ties within the data. A successful strategy is to keep it simple, but keep customers engaged. Another key initiative keeping c-store technology teams busy is EMV upgrades. EMV is an acronym for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, the three companies that originally created the security standard. Under EMV liability shift deadlines, c-store retailers need to Serving Up Retail Tech CSNews & sister company EKN host inaugural C-store Technology Leadership Dinner By Melissa Kress The changing role of the c-store industry IT executive was a topic of discussion.

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