that inconvenient. In addition, these companies are
beginning to face some of the same regulations around
fueling and fuel transport that our industry faces and
that is further affecting costs.
What about drones? In July, 7-Eleven made the
first commercial delivery by drone (a sandwich and
Slurpee) in the United States. And it will be unanticipated events that will shape this technology’s future.
Let me throw out one scenario. If you’re a dog owner,
imagine your pet’s enthusiasm when a drone descends
on your front lawn. Also imagine how that plays out—
does the dog defeat the drone or do the whirring blades
defeat the dog? Either way, a problem.
Robots that traverse sidewalks to deliver pizzas or
groceries are also touted at the next big thing in convenience. But just as dogs will be dogs, people will be
people, and I don’t see them moving off the sidewalk
to allow a robot to pass—or even allowing the robot to
survive. Take a moment to Google poor “Hitchbot,” a
robot that was to traverse the country, from New York
to California. He couldn’t survive Philadelphia, the
City of Brotherly Love.
No one can accurately predict the future, but we
can get a better sense of what the future holds by
seeing new products and learning new ideas. Hey, that
sounds like the NACS Show. I hope to see you there—
and let me know which booth has the jet packs,
which I was promised 40 years ago.
Jeff Lenard is the NACS vice president of
strategic industry initiatives. He can be reached
at email@example.com or (703) 518-4272.
The value of convenience is stronger than ever.
That’s great news for the convenience retailing
industry, which obviously sells convenience and
continues to evolve to redefine the convenience
offer. But others are also evolving and in most cases,
diving into the convenience space. How—and if—
they succeed depends on a number of variables,
including how we, as an industry, respond.
Today, every store looks like a convenience store at
the checkout with drink and snack displays, including some brands you wouldn’t expect: Best Buy, The
Home Depot, Old Navy and Bed Bath & Beyond come
to mind. Food trucks are increasingly expanding their
offer beyond freshly made food to packaged items like
snacks and drinks. And quick-service restaurants
are significantly changing their offers. Burger King’s
Whopper Bar in Miami sells cans and bottles of beer
along with meals and the Taco Bell Cantina, in several
locations around the country, serves alcohol.
Even competition between other channels can
affect us. Drugstores weren’t always our competition, but as Walmart and Target increasingly stole
market share for items like shampoo and toothpaste, drugstores reevaluated their product mix and
added food to the mix, which subsequently put their
offer much more in line with ours.
And then there are entirely new entrants to the
convenience space. Will they gain traction? A few
months ago, home-delivery fueling companies were
touted as the next big thing, promising to eliminate the
trip to the gas station. But if consumers at gas stations
don’t want to pay extra for full-service gas, what would
make them pay significantly more to eliminate a trip
to the gas station altogether, which, let’s face it, is not
Robots that traverse
sidewalks to deliver
pizzas are also touted
at the next big thing