Implementing mobile ordering for delivery or pickup makes sense now and after the COVID-19 pandemic

Hi, my name is Cederick. I’m a 36-year-old, black male with asthma, severe allergies and a long family history of autoimmune disorders ranging from lichen planus to rheumatoid arthritis. When you hear health experts talk about people who are highly susceptible to COVID-19 symptoms, they’re talking about me.

I rarely leave my two-bedroom apartment. In nearly a month, I’ve ventured onto my patio three times to feel the sun on my skin while breathing in a risky amount of the Peach State’s heavily pollinated, springtime air. Physically shopping in a grocery or convenience store is a last resort.

From food to household essentials, mobile ordering or order ahead services for delivery or pickup has been a lifeline. And I’m not alone. In a recent survey by RBC capital markets, the number of respondents who order their groceries online increased by 20% compared to 2018. Grocery delivery company Instacart has also seen a 300% increase in demand year-over-year.

If you’re a convenience store operator, here’s why implementing mobile ordering for delivery or pickup makes sense now and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Protecting convenience store employees and customers during COVID-19

In a recent interview with CNBC, Mark Cuban, billionaire investor and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, said the way businesses treat their employees during the COVID-19 outbreak will “define their brand for decades.”

On March 28, the Department of Homeland Security designated convenience stores, their distributors and supply chains as essential businesses. While the declaration means convenience stores can stay open to serve their communities, it also increases their employees’ risk of contracting the virus.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), symptomatic and asymptomatic people alike are testing positive for COVID-19. It’s important for convenience stores to take every necessary precaution to protect their workers and the public. One obvious solution is to implement mobile ordering for pickup or delivery.

In fact, many convenience stores, including PDI customers, are already doing it. Casey’s General Stores expanded its delivery service to 579 locations; QuickTrip rolled out its pickup service to more than 800 sites nationwide; and Kum & Go is piloting a full-service fuel and curbside pickup model at several stores.

For these and other convenience retailers, the current effort is worth the long-term reward of engendering customer loyalty by taking proactive measures to ensure the public’s safety.

Future proofing your convenience store with mobile ordering

Vroom Delivery recently reported that the basket size for delivery increased to $55 since the COVID-19 crisis. But mobile ordering doesn’t only make sense in a pandemic; it makes good business sense for the future. From local grocery and convenience stores to retailers like Old Navy and Nordstrom, even in a post COVID-19 world, consumers will still look for easier ways to buy and receive the things they need.

In his mainstage presentation at the 2019 PDI Users Conference, Drew Mize, our executive vice president and general manager of ERP Solutions, talked about the last mile delivery dilemma for convenience stores. In it, he discussed the revenue stream convenience stores were currently losing, and would continue losing in the future, if they didn’t address the increasing consumer demand for online ordering and delivery. And he was right.

The foodservice and delivery market is expected to generate more than $100 billion in revenue by 2022. That’s huge, and convenience retailers should make preparations to tap into that market. According to a 2020 study by the Food Marketing Institute, the majority of Millennials and Gen Zers value convenience most in their grocery shopping experiences and respectively spend more than $700 and $800 a month on food. Additionally, research shows that Gen Zers already prefer convenience stores to more traditional retailers.

The Pew Research Center says these two generations will eventually account for more than 60% of the U.S. population. They are the consumers convenience retailers must target to sustain their businesses in the future. And that means preparing to provide a digital-first customer experience.

What to look for a mobile ordering solution

If you’re a convenience retailer looking for a mobile ordering solution, you’re not alone. Here are a few key features your mobile ordering solution should include:

  • Easy and intuitive navigation for consumers
  • Order alerts, tracking and analytics
  • Delivery, driver and customer management
  • Pricebook integration

Mobile ordering  with order ahead services for pickup or delivery provide the convenience today’s and tomorrow’s consumers expect. It’s time for convenience stores to embrace it.

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