12 Oct 2021

NACS Wrap-Up: An Evolution of Convenience Heading into 2022

By: Brittany Maroney

Inspiration

The NACS Show is officially over, and what a fantastic week it was. Recently, our c-store division attended the 2021 Show in beautiful Chicago, IL. Every year, the NACS Show brings together convenience and fuel retailing industry professionals for multiple days of networking, connecting, learning, sharing, and fun – all designed to help the industry and its operators grow.  

Housed in the 2.6 million s.f. of expo space that is the McCormick Place Convention Center, this year’s NACS event featured thousands of products and services that c-stores sell and use every day, including: Fuel Equipment & Services, Food Equipment and Food Service Programs, Candy & Snacks, Facility Development & Store Operations, Merchandise, and Technology. Attendees had the opportunity to attend premier speaking sessions with industry leaders and navigate endless aisles of solution providers and new technologies. 

With the uncertainty of the past year and a half, many attendees arrived curious about what this year’s event would hold. After all, the past few quarters have really proven to be a time of change within the c-store space, with consumer insights set on a more innovative experience within the forecourt and backcourt spaces. Some of the main takeaways from the event centered around food safety and service, CBD/hemp products and legislation, and of course, technology innovations and changing customer preferences. Amplifying the customer experience was at the forefront of every conversation, and true to the industry, convenience is on everyone’s mind.

Loyalty led the way with an emphasis on understanding the changing consumer and as a catalyst to help operators large and small redefine interactions with customers. Brands of all sizes have a reinvigorated view on what loyalty can do for a single or multi-unit chain and, with it, the potential levers that a well-executed strategy can pull. Customers no longer want to be treated like one of the faceless masses. Instead, they are craving true 1:1 personalization, offers, and incentives for their business. 

As the industry leaders of loyalty (and attendees of this year’s NACS conference), here are our top predictions for the c-store sector as a whole and the future of convenience heading into 2022. 

Shawn Wood, Sr. Director of Sales at Punchh

“In today’s competitive climate, loyalty is becoming a huge differentiator for brands in the c-store space, and we continued to hear how critical it will be for operators heading into 2022. At NACS, we heard from both our current customers and the new brands we saw flock to our booth that loyalty was becoming more integral for engagement and a primary component of any marketing strategy. Customers are telling these operators that they want more out of their interactions; they want contactless payment, mobile ordering, integrated point programs, and personalized offers. It’s all about an easy, seamless experience in this new age of digital connections, and they want to be rewarded in the same interconnected way they see in other verticals. The archaic time of physical punch cards is no longer an option. The new normal is an integrated multichannel system that enables you to understand your customer’s digital footprint, and that all links back to loyalty.”

Oliver Lee, Sr. Director of Product & Partner at Punchh

“Technology is changing rapidly, and many operators are expressing frustration at keeping up. However, what’s evident from this year’s NACS, is that the brands seeing the most success are those that took the time to choose partners that could seamlessly integrate within an existing software stack to round out a solution. Whether it’s in regard to your hardware or software stack, it’s important to select partners that truly understand the challenges of the c-store industry and can provide viable solutions that will help move operators forward. Here at Punchh, we genuinely value our partnerships and work tirelessly to continuously reinvent our platform to ensure seamless integrations that help evolve the loyalty experience for our customers. Whether it’s at the forecourt or the backcourt, it’s amazing to see companies working together to really revolutionize the customer experience.”

Lori Stout, Vice President of Marketing at Punchh

“Being at NACS highlights how innovative the convenience store space has become. I’ve spoken about it before, but loyalty truly has become more than just a “program,” and operators are slowly becoming aware that it can be so much more than just discounting. True loyalty is about evolving the customer from unknown buyers — such as fuel-only customers or those making cash purchases — into known shoppers by capturing incremental information about them and earning the trust of these buyers. Knowing a customer’s journey is more integral than ever before, and operators are now seeing the benefits of evolving into a more omnichannel experience for their customers, one that connects the dots between in-store and digital purchases, in real-time.”

With this year’s NACS show wrapped, one thing is clear, loyalty programming that elevates the customer experience is moving the industry forward. Customers now want an experience to remember, so they will make an effort to come back. Punchh can help brands of all sizes reinvent their loyalty strategy and leverage a fully integrated digital loyalty program that delivers personalized c-store offers and rewards – at the register, in the app, and at the pump. By offering a fully integrated loyalty solution, operators can attract, engage, and retain shoppers with data-driven, omnichannel campaigns and offers. 

Punchh can help you overcome barriers to loyalty program performance and provide solutions that will help you efficiently scale in the future. Contact us today for more information.

See everyone at NACS 2022!