News Feature | December 27, 2013

Grocery And Convenience Store IT News For VARs — December 27, 2013

By Anna Rose Welch, associate editor

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In the news, an economists predicts growth for the convenience store industry and the demand for mobile payments and digital gift cards is expected to increase at c-stores.

C-Store Industry Expected To See Growth In 2014

According to Maureen Maguire, a consulting economist for Convenience Store News, the GDP is projected to grow “in the high 2 or low 3 percent” range next year. Fuel prices below $4 per gallon, good weather, and falling unemployment rates could also bode well for the c-store industry in 2014, various experts say. Maguire also lists several other key factors reinforcing her upbeat prediction for the 2014 economy.

The Time For C-Store Mobile Payments Is Now

Convenience Store Decisions has compiled a list of “burning issues” c-stores will need to address in 2014, including mobile app marketing challenges, fresh food focus, and healthcare reform. According to the article, experts are saying that now is the time for c-stores to begin working on developing and offering mobile payments. While one expert calls the process “a marathon, not a sprint,” there is added pressure from QSRs that have already begun to offer these services. In addition to quick payments, mobility helps a c-store inform customers about products and encourage more customers to embrace the mobile wallet. There are still lots of debates about what kind of technology will be best for mobile wallets/payments, however a Murphy USA representative suspects it will be cloud-based technology.

Demand For Digital Gift Cards On The Rise

New research released by InComm revealed nearly 70 percent of customers surveyed reported buying a gift card from a website or mobile app in the past. For this particular holiday season, 85 percent agreed that they were likely to purchase at least one gift card from an online website or mobile site/app. The research also shows digital gift cards are becoming more popular. This year, 77 percent planned to purchase at least one digital gift card, while 70 percent strongly agreed they’re more interested in purchasing digital gift cards. For those retailers who sell gift cards, it is becoming more important to provide them with access to physical and digital gift cards via computer/mobile devices.

New Alliance Formed In Face Of EMV Implementation

Convenience Store News reports that ten PIN debit networks in the U.S. have joined together to form the Debit Network Alliance. This new company has been formed to create a common structure for the regulation, deployment, and implementation of the Europay, MasterCard, and Visa (EMV) debit standard. EMV guidelines dictate that c-stores must complete an upgrade to their in-store POS terminals by Oct. 1, 2015 and pumps by Oct. 1, 2017.

Scan Avoidance Technology Can Help Clients Reduce Losses

A Progressive Grocer article discusses the benefits of scan avoidance technology that has helped retailers lower losses at the manned and self-checkout systems. This technology can be used to train cashiers and improve their performance. It also helps managers access information on checkout shrink more easily, which helps eliminate exorbitant financial losses from improperly scanned items, scan-avoidance incidents, and theft.

Grocery and Convenience Store IT Talking Points

During the 2013 Convenience Store News Alternative Fuels Summit, CS News editorial director Don Longo released the results of the magazine’s 2013 Motor Fuels Study. According to the results, more retailers are interested in offering alternative fuels. Of those surveyed, 43 percent currently offer alternative fuels, but 51 percent expect to offer these fuels in the next 5 years. Electronic-charging centers could also see growth in the next five years. Currently, only 2 percent surveyed said they offered this service. However, in five years, 7 percent expect to offer electric charging.

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