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C-Store Trends: Mobile Ordering Is Here

C-Store Trends: Mobile Ordering Is Here

Starting this past February, Wawa become the latest national chain to offer mobile ordering options to their customers. The initial soft launch was localized to Philadelphia area locations while the service was tested. Earlier this month, the service became available to all Wawa locations.

Mobile ordering is nothing new, having been implemented by national chains such as Starbucks and Panera Bread. Indeed, dozens of large retails have some form of mobile ordering system, either for delivery or in-store pickup. The C-store industry, however, has been slow to adopt the technology.

How it Works

Built into their existing mobile app, Wawa customers can pre-order food and beverages. To keep orders fresh, however, the food is not made right away. GPS tracking alerts the store when the customer is within a certain distance.

In addition to ordering food, the Wawa app allows customers to pay in-store, view nutritional information, check fuel prices, or sign-up for and manage their Wawa rewards account. More features are planned as Wawa seems keen to get in on the mobile bandwagon and build out their software. So far it seems to be working. Per a recent survey, over 67% of respondents said they’d use the service. That’s a HUGE conversion rate by any standard.

The Mobile Ordering Trend

It should come as no surprise that mobile ordering is on the rise. As smartphones continue to integrate into our lives, the food and retail industry has been growing alongside it. Customers using mobile apps, text messages, or the internet to order food has risen by 18%, and It isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon.

That 18% may not sound like a large number. However, that means that online ordering accounted for 1.9 billion orders last year. That IS a large number. It should also come as no surprise that millennials accounted for a large percentage of those orders.

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What’s In It For You?

Previously, we’ve spoken about the importance of marketing to millennials as well as how mobile payments are the future of retail.  Remember, this demographic has the highest instance of smartphone ownership (83%) and account for 72% of all mobile payments. They’re also a powerfully growing C-store target demographic.

The message should be clear: these statistics are all connected. As smartphone use continues to rise, so will online ordering. Millennials and their younger counterparts will be a driving force towards bringing the C-store trend of mobile ordering into the mainstream.

A Trend That Shows No Sign of Stopping

C-store trends come and go in every industry. Twenty years ago, we were all rushing to provide low-fat food options. Ten years ago, you bought in on low carb. Mobile ordering may seem like a trend, but it’s one that’s hardwired into our society. The smart money says this trend has staying power.

Consider integrating online ordering into your existing website, or building out a mobile app for your loyalty program. Of course, you’ll need a good POS system and back office software to keep everything running smoothly, especially when it comes to inventory management. Integrating online ordering is a big step in your business’ development and without the proper supporting tools you can create a mess in a hurry.

That shouldn’t discourage you, however. Mobile and online services are only going to increase in the coming years. And with large national chains like Wawa showing no signs of abandoning the practice, this is one C-store trend you can count on sticking around.

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