It’s finally happened. The largest big-box retailer in the world is testing the waters of the convenience store model for on-the-go customers. But what does this mean for you, and how is this going to affect the business of current convenience store owners? Let’s take a closer look…
Two New Test Locations
Wal-Mart Stores Inc, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, has recently opened two test “convenience stores.” The first of the two pilot locations opened in Crowley, Texas on Jan. 24; the second in Rogers, Arkansas on Jan 31.
The stores are stocked with traditional convenience store fare; snacks, beverages, candy, hot food grills, beer, ICEEs, and general convenience store merchandise. Both measuring in at an impressive 2,500 square feet, open 5AM to midnight with fuel pumps accessible 24 hours a day, it’s safe to say that Walmart isn’t pulling any punches with this new test-store format.
While Walmart has yet to officially name this new project, this expansion comes as no surprise. Back in December a 4,000-square foot location opened in Thornton, Colorado; a year prior, one was opened in Huntsville, Alabama. Both of these locations, however, have a little added bonus: a drive-thru for picking up online grocery orders.
If you’re feeling nervous about the largest retail giant in the world encroaching in on your territory of convenience store ownership, you’re not alone. But take a moment to remember that this isn’t a new thing! Grocery store giants like Kroger, Meijer, and Giant Eagle have been dipping their feet into the waters of convenience store management for a couple of decades now.
What Does This Mean?
So, what does this mean for today’s convenience store owners? Currently, not much. Walmart has yet to say whether they have plans to expand upon this newly ventured territory. Even if the pilot stores do test well and Walmart does choose to expand on the model, chances are good that we won’t see a full-scale rollout for at least five years.
For the time being, don’t sweat it. As we all know, convenience store customers are loyal. Even if a new Walmart convenience store opens in your town, chances are good that your tried and true customers will stay loyal to your store. If you’re worried about Walmart undercutting your business in prices, have no fear; the cost of undergoing such a massive operation likely won’t leave them much room for overly-competitive pricing, especially in the world of fuel.
Competition is On the Way
Between Wal-Mart and Amazon, the C-store industry is likely to see a healthy dose of competition within the next decade. In fact, it will soon become business as usual. As these retail giants look to expand their reach and enter new industries, C-store owners must at least begin to take note and prepare for the future.
Effective inventory and price book management software can help give the independent C-store owner a leg up on the competition. Even if Wal-Mart, or a similar competitor, tries to hone in on your territory, you can remain in the game through effective convenience store management which includes managing your inventory and prices with ease.
These systems allow you to:
Identify trends in product sales
Forecast future sales
Change prices with ease, from any location
Generate P&L statements
Track item level inventory
A little competition can ultimately be a good thing. However, it is important to stay up to date on all of the current trends and new technology available to you in order to remain current and ready for the challenge.
Interested in learning more about managing your C-store with CStorePro's all-in-one online inventory and operations management software? today.