Fast-food chains have been struggling to keep up with the demands of customers who are increasingly looking for more convenient ways to eat. To stay ahead, fast food chains need to find new ways to stay relevant and retain their customer bases.
The battle for consumers’ time and money is never easy — especially when there are so many other things competing for our attention. That’s why convenience stores have become such a huge threat to fast-food chains: they’re able to provide similar experiences at much lower prices than what the chains are offering, which makes it easy for customers to switch if they want something convenient, affordable, and familiar.
There used to be a stigma with convenience store, their food and even the experiences. That stigma has been slowly changing over the yeas and some C-Stores have even become a destination point.
Read on to learn more about the threat fast food chains face from convenience stores and how convenience stores are becoming a faster, easier way for people to eat.
Convenience Stores Offer Similar Food
With the growing popularity of mobile ordering and delivery services, it’s no surprise that fast food chains are looking for more ways to stay relevant in the modern age. Clearly, the path to success for fast food chains is to offer what customers are looking for. That’s why many of them have begun to offer a limited selection of groceries — like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts — and meal kits, like Panera Bread, are also expanding their food offerings.
Convenience stores, on the other hand, are already experts at this. Convenience stores have been offering a limited selection of ready-made food and drinks for many years. In fact, convenience stores are so adept at this kind of food that they often have a wide variety of drinks and snacks that cater to different dietary restrictions, like gluten-free and vegan options.
They’re Cheaper Than Fast-Food Restaurants
One way that convenience stores are able to stay competitive with fast-food chains is by keeping prices low. Most convenience store sandwiches and entrées cost around $5 or less, which is significantly lower than what you can expect from fast-food chains. The reason for this is likely the fact that most convenience stores are owned by a larger grocery store chain, which allows for the use of the company’s purchasing power and sourcing expertise. This means that your peanut butter will be far less expensive than your PB&J would be if purchased from a small food store, where the peanut vendor might not have the same access to quality products.
They Provide Mobile Payment Options
Mobile ordering and payment services have become increasingly popular over the past few years, and they’re now available at many fast-food chains. While most of these services are only available at certain locations or during certain hours, they give customers another option that they can use when they don’t want to get out of their cars, like Taco Bell’s “Mobile Order” service and McDonald’s “Mobile” service and delivery options. In fact, mobile ordering is now so popular that some C-stores now have an app that lets you order in advance and pick up in the store.
They Provide Meal-Delivery Services
Another thing that convenience stores are doing to stay relevant in an increasingly convenient world is that many of them are partnering with meal-delivery services, like Postmates, to make it easy for customers to have their food delivered right to their doorstep. This is especially helpful if you don’t want to cook or don’t have time to shop for groceries. For example, if you come home from work a bit hungry but don’t have time to cook, you can order a meal from a nearby restaurant and have it delivered to your doorstep by a meal-delivery service like DoorDash or UberEATS.
Convenience Stores Offer More Than Food too!
While most convenience stores in the United States will sell food and beverages, there are also a growing number of stores that are offering a variety of services, like banking and financial services. These stores are often owned and operated by the same company that owns your local gas station or grocery store, making them even easier to use than convenience stores. These “boutique” convenience stores are sometimes referred to as “financial” or “banking” convenience stores and are growing in popularity.
They Have Drive-Thru Options
Lastly, many convenience stores are also offering drive-thru services to stay competitive with fast-food chains. These drive-thru options let you order and pay for your food before you even get out of your car, opening up another way to eat when you don’t have time to prepare or don’t want to leave your vehicle. The most common location for these restaurants is at gas stations, where customers can typically choose between multiple food and drink options from the convenience store. To be clear, there are some limitations to any drive-thru, like the fact that you have to wait for your order to be prepared, but it’s a convenient option for busy people who don’t have time for traditional sit-down meals.
Convenience stores pose a significant threat to the fast-food industry because they offer similar food at lower prices than the chains, provide mobile payment options, offer meal-delivery services, have drive-thru options, and provide more than just food, including banking and financial services.
EZ-Chow has solutions such as an Online Ordering, Self-Ordering Kiosks and Rewards/Loyalty Solutions that integrate into your existing POS systems. To learn how EZ-Chow can help you with these initiatives and more, get started by contacting us here.