The convenience store industry is full of challenges for owners and managers working under fast-paced conditions. With minimal staffing to provide a great experience and memorable service to customers, owners have a lot of there plates when it comes to running a successful convenience store operation. Running an automated convenience store can help save owners time and money.

Behind the scenes, retail operations are highly complicated with many components that must be managed and balanced. Whether it’s inventory management, weekly sales reconciliation, or employee payroll.  All of these tasks and more have historically required a hands-on approach in order to ensure the business runs smoothly.

The hands-on approach, however, is quickly becoming obsolete. With the market for automation anticipated to reach a value of $18.9B by 2023, would you be surprised that there are likely cloud-based software and back-office solutions for store automation you could be taking advantage of in the daily operation of your retail business?

In this piece, we’ll detail how to best identify workflows to help create an automated convenience store. We’ll also provide examples of easily automated business tasks to help streamline your operation and free you up to spend more time focused on guest satisfaction and driving sales.

Exterior of convenience store & gas station

Automated Convenience Store

Before exploring software options for automating small business practices, it’s vital to analyze your day-to-day business routines and find out where you’re spending the bulk of your time and effort. 

Once you’ve established your manager’s path, you can adjust it according to feedback from your employees and customers. You may also use an exploration of industry-standard best practices. It’s then time to ask yourself four key questions to determine which tasks on your daily and weekly agenda can be automated.

Is the task repetitive and repeatable?

Getting bogged down in daily operations is a given as an owner or manager. Daily tasks can easily bog down an owner or manager.  As a leader, you need your hands and eyes free to lead your team, troubleshoot problems as they arise, and in general keep the operation moving forward smoothly and uninterrupted. Any task that requires little effort and doesn’t benefit from the direct involvement of you or another person on staff are excellent candidates for automation.

Is the Workflow Simple?

Many tasks in your management path are likely simple, but even the simplest tasks require the time and attention to accomplish. But what if they didn’t? What if you could find a way to automate your weekly newsletter sent to members of your loyalty program

Or set up your social media posts for the month in a single day and set the posting schedule and forget it until the following month? How much time could you save automating the small but necessary business-building activities in your day?

If You Automate This Task, Will the ROI From Your Store Be Positive?

To be clear, automating business tasks requires an investment in cloud-based, back-office software services. However, you may find a deep dive into your daily and weekly manager’s path reveals a number of tasks that can be automated.  Automating them gives you time to focus on building the business. As well as otherwise making improvements and profitable changes over time, and that increased profitability pays for your investment in the store automation systems, then it’s a wise investment.

Does the Task Scale with Business Growth Over Time?

The final qualifier is the trickiest to answer because it requires an insight into the future growth of your operation. In the beginning, there are a number of tasks that could be considered to be necessary during the phase of getting the business up and running and stabilized. Over time, however, new processes will replace unnecessary or obsolete methods. First you identify processes that will grow and evolve with your business.  You can look for ways these tasks can be automated in the same way.

Woman shopping in a convenience store with a graphic overlay symbolizing automation.

Three Proven Automated Convenience Store Strategies

While your company might have a unique vision and mission statement, the underlying operational framework is fairly standard across the industry. This is a very good thing! 

Remember that we talked at the beginning about simple, repeatable tasks?  The retail business model is full of these. Automation is truly your best path to success when it comes to certain components of your operation. Three such avenues where the automation industry has made significant strides in the retail industry are human resources, marketing, and inventory management. Let’s see how a software solution for an automated convenience store can be implemented within each category. 

Human Resource Task

Regardless of the segment in which your retail business operates, there’s a high likelihood you have a number of employees working for you in order to meet guest needs and keep the operation clean, organized, stocked, and generating income. Automation is ideal for employee related tasks. 

Onboarding

  • The time-consuming process required in order to hire an employee. The challenge here is that while the process is the same for every potential hire, the average hourly employee turnover rate sits at around 65 percent. What this translates to is one of the biggest time-sinks in the industry.  The churn of interviewing, hiring, and onboarding new employees. This process requires employers to collect the same mountain of information from each new hire.  Paperwork relating to employment status, taxes, benefits, payroll, and other associated information. Prior to orientation you can start automating the onboarding process.  This can save managers a measurable amount of time better spent elsewhere in the operation than non-members. 

Scheduling and payroll

  • Automation is perfect for daily processes. Without automation, scheduling can take up a large portion of your time.  Trying to fit every employee’s specific availability into the flow of your business and manually calculating your projected labor costs. Payroll is a similar candidate for automation.  Automation allows employees to self-manage their hours and managers to make quick corrections based on easily accessible reporting. Weekly reconciliation becomes a quick review instead of time-consuming deep dives on punch reports and manual submission of time cards.

Marketing

You need your marketing efforts to generate income, rather than cost you time and money in the long run. While previously, you might have had to play both manager and marketer in the past.  Now with automation it means that you can quickly develop data-informed campaigns. With the push of a button launch highly targeted and personalized initiatives. Loyalty programs and advertising campaigns benefit greatly from this automated approach.

Customer Loyalty Programs

  • Provide your company with the opportunity to capture customer attention and draw them back into your store. With 87% of consumers beginning their shopping journey on a digital platform, and the average household active in about 8 loyalty programs, automating and tracking consumer activity through an integrated loyalty program software solution is an ideal way to build sales with very little hands-on effort. As the algorithms behind the loyalty programs build profiles and track behaviors, customers can be provided with personalized and guided shopping experiences while in your store, resulting in members of your loyalty program spending 12-18% more at the register than non-members. 

Advertising Campaigns

  • Advertising in a general sense are the same as they’ve always been.  Promotions, targeted specials, discounts dependent upon purchasing activities, and other ways to get consumers more active at the register. With integrated and automated software driving and informing the structure of your advertising campaigns. However, you’ll be able to build better targeted and more effective marketing initiatives.  You can then combine this with automated elements from your customer relationship management platforms to send out emails to subscriber lists. Installing automated management for store promotions can save you time and money.

Inventory Management

Effectively managing the flow of products throughout the store from receiving to point of sale is perhaps the most profitable tactic for owners and managers to improve profitability. However, manually managing the inventory process can be extremely time consuming and prone to human error. An automated solution helps to streamline the ordering process and track inventory usage.  Simplifying the inventory process frees you to focus on getting more items off the shelf and into the hands of the customers who need them. 

Automated Ordering

  • This will be your best friend. Without automation, the ordering process requires manual detailed analysis of product sales trends, establishing par levels, matching product sales pars to delivery cycles, and hoping that you’ve not missed anything that could impact the flow of business and that you’ve ordered enough product to carry you through to the next delivery cycle. Or you could identify a software automation solution and allow it to handle all of this.  Save time when your system is capable of reviewing orders as they’re generated, adjust for outliers, only needing approval.

Inventory Counts

  • This is one of the most time-consuming processes. Depending on the scale of your operation, it could require outsourcing and additional expenses in order to complete regularly. Tying an inventory management system into your point of sale system allows detailed sales activity tracking.  This is all the way down to the product SKU level, providing managers with highly detailed product sales activity.  Allowing for inventories can quickly be verified and submitted during the weekly reconciliation process. 

Credit card being used at point of sale register

C Store Automation Experts

Your time as a retail owner and operator is valuable.  You cannot afford to get bogged down in the daily tasks. While some tasks do require a human touch and benefit from your involvement, there are numerous tasks throughout the operation that would benefit from our convenience store automation solutions at Success Systems. 

From inventory management to electronic price books, and everything in between, Success Systems can help your retail operation to find the right mixture of hands-on and automated convenience that will help your company thrive and grow. Contact us today to schedule a demo of our services and solutions.

You Might Also Like

Retail Loss Prevention Tips

By Sam Rouse | October 13, 2021 |
Retail Loss Prevention

What is Retail Loss Prevention? Retail Loss Prevention is the process of preserving profits.  In convenience stores and gas stations, this is an everyday concern but is key in finding…