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Top Trends in Convenience Store Design

Con­ve­nience stores have long been an iconic part of the American landscape and they’re popular in many other countries as well. For a long time, the look and design of these stores were fairly pre­dictable and con­sis­tent. Perhaps the owners of these chains wanted to conform to people’s expec­ta­tions. Lately, however, this is changing. Due to a variety of factors, such as emerging trends in design and an increas­ing awareness of envi­ron­men­tal issues, con­ve­nience stores are making some sig­nif­i­cant changes. Let’s look at some of the major trends in this industry and see why tomorrow’s con­ve­nience stores will look very different from the ones many of us grew up with.

SUSTAINABILITY, ALTERNATIVE FUELS, AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY

Like all busi­ness­es, con­ve­nience stores are always seeking ways to improve effi­cien­cy and cut costs. Busi­ness­es are also under increased pressure to do their part to preserve the envi­ron­ment and use resources eco­nom­i­cal­ly. There are several ways that con­ve­nience stores are rising to this challenge. One of the most common reasons people stop at con­ve­nience stores is to fill up their gas tanks. Now, with electric cars, hybrids,and other emerging alter­na­tives, many con­ve­nience stores are offering customers alter­na­tive fuel options. For example, Kwik Trip stores are part of a plan to make I‑94 a green highway where drivers can fuel up their electric- powered vehicles.

Energy effi­cien­cy and envi­ron­men­tal issues overlap with cost-cutting goals in many ways. For con­ve­nience stores, costs such as lighting, refrig­er­a­tion, and HVAC are sig­nif­i­cant and have an impact on profits. These Factors are crucial for main­tain­ing customers’ and employees’ comfort as well as for pre­serv­ing food freshness. Tra­di­tion­al­ly, it’s been a com­pli­cat­ed task to set standards for tem­per­a­tures (for stores, refrig­er­a­tors, and freezers) and lighting. With advances in tech­nol­o­gy, however, it’s now possible to create inte­grat­ed facility controls that monitor multiple systems around stores.This has several benefits. It ensures that proper settings are in place, keeping both customers and employees more com­fort­able. It saves time as employees don’t have to spend as much time mon­i­tor­ing these settings. It also saves stores money by pre­vent­ing the kind of waste that occurs when, for example, air con­di­tion­ing or heat levels are too high.

ARCHITECTURAL TRENDS FOR CONVENIENCE STORES

Con­ve­nience stores have been around for a long time, dating back to 1927, when the Southland Ice Company opened in Dallas. They didn’t really start to take off until the mid-20th century, though. Since that time, we’ve seen many archi­tec­tur­al and design trends come and go. Currently, there’s more variety than ever in these areas. As more brands enter the market, it’s getting harder to gen­er­al­ize about what a typical” con­ve­nience store looks like. 7‑Eleven, the largest and best-known chain, maintains a tra­di­tion­al and min­i­mal­ist design. Because it’s so familiar, this provides comfort to customers and ensures that stores are rec­og­niz­able from far away. Other stores, however, are choosing more modern and elaborate designs.

The Guess Corp., for example, is intro­duc­ing an ultra- modern design with dis­tinc­tive features such as bright outdoor lights, an open layout, and floor-to-ceiling windows. This is in stark contrast to the mid-Twentieth century look still favored by 7‑Eleven and some other chains. Guess’s inno­va­tions extend beyond appear­ance and include features such as more user-friendly gas pumps, tech­nol­o­gy to suppress gasoline odors, and higher-end products than are tra­di­tion­al­ly found in con­ve­nience stores. Guess is looking to create more upscale con­ve­nience stores.

MORE DIVERSE AND UPSCALE CONVENIENCE STORES

The tra­di­tion­al con­ve­nience store is a small and limited affair, providing customers with staples such as fast foods and other basic staples to pick up as they’re feeling up their gas tanks. Now, however, some companies are creating a new concept, a kind of con­ve­nience superstore.

In 2016, Kum & Go opened such a store in Johnston, Iowa. This store, which is more than 6,000 square feet, offers both indoor and outdoor patio seating, a Go Fresh Market with foods prepared daily and even a growler station offering craft beers. The store also incor­po­rates sus­tain­able design and LEED-certified energy ef ciency​.In line with its tech-friendly policies, there’s also an app connected to a rewards program and an emphasis on social media. There are now more than 400 Kum & Go stores spread across 11 states.

Con­ve­nience stores have been con­sis­tent­ly offering customers more diversity, espe­cial­ly when it comes to food and beverages. While growler stations that serve beer are still a rarity, almost all chains now offer fast foods such as pizza, hot dogs, and burgers, a good selection of caf­feinat­ed beverages, and smoothies.

Today’s con­ve­nience stores are competing with fast food restau­rants, making it tempting for customers to grab lunch or a snack in addition to picking up groceries or getting gas. Kum & Go is only one example of con­ve­nience stores expanding their tra­di­tion­al offerings. There’s a wider trend of offering more diverse services. Con­ve­nience stores are also starting to get more sophis­ti­cat­ed and aes­thet­i­cal­ly pleasing. For example, Stripes Con­ve­nience Stores now hang local art on the walls in their Texas stores.

FASTER DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION

With so much com­pe­ti­tion and unpre­dictable economic con­di­tions, the speed of con­struc­tion is another factor that can provide a com­pet­i­tive edge for con­ve­nience stores. Anyone planning a com­mer­cial project under­stands that it’s important to stay within the deadline to avoid incurring addi­tion­al costs. Faster con­struc­tion means that you open your doors sooner and start making money. For companies that want to open multiple stores, the advan­tages of moving fast are even greater.

Faster con­struc­tion depends on several factors, including efficient planning, clear com­mu­ni­ca­tion with contractors,and using inno­v­a­tive building materials and con­struc­tion methods. The Bautex Wall System, for example, speeds up con­struc­tion expo­nen­tial­ly with its inno­v­a­tive system of insulated concrete blocks, which removes the extra step of insu­lat­ing walls after construction.

Addi­tion­al­ly, faster and simpler design also con­tributes to com­plet­ing con­struc­tion projects faster. Most con­ve­nience store brands build in a variety of building code juris­dic­tions. The use of inno­v­a­tive building materials that more broadly and effec­tive­ly meet building, energy and life safety codes, regard­less of legal juris­dic­tion, helps to stan­dard­ize designs and minimize extra work required in local­iz­ing designs to meet these codes.

ENTERING THE DIGITAL AGE

Con­ve­nience stores are taking steps to cater to their tech-savvy customers and keep up with the latest tech­nol­o­gy. Chains such as QuikTrip and 7‑Eleven are adding Amazon Lockers to their stores where customers can pick up their packages. This is an example of how the con­ve­nience store is staying current with the digital economy, catering to customers who shop online. Some con­ve­nience stores such as Kum & Go have free Wi-Fi and charging stations to encourage customers to sit down with their laptops while enjoying the wide selection of foods and beverages. This suggests that upscale con­ve­nience stores are not only competing with fast-food restau­rants but also with Starbucks and other coffee shops where people linger over caf­feinat­ed beverages while typing on their devices.

Amazon Lockers and WiFi are features designed to attract a wider range of customers to con­ve­nience stores. These perks also signify a change in people’s per­cep­tion of these stores. Whereas in the past, con­ve­nience stores were places where you spent as little time as possible, they’re gradually turning into places where people want to spend more time. When customers can find a variety of foods and beverages and browse the internet, they’ll be more inclined to hang out at these stores. Con­ve­nience store mobile apps are another high-tech trend that helps customers to pay with mobile devices and take advantage of rewards programs.

CONVENIENCE STORES ARE EVOLVING

Con­ve­nience stores are taking steps to cater to their tech-savvy customers and keep up with the latest tech­nol­o­gy. Chains such as QuikTrip and 7‑Eleven are adding Amazon Lockers to their stores where customers can pick up their packages. This is an example of how the con­ve­nience store is staying current with the digital economy, catering to customers who shop online. Some con­ve­nience stores such as Kum & Go have free Wi-Fi and charging stations to encourage customers to sit down with their laptops while enjoying the wide selection of foods and beverages. This suggests that upscale con­ve­nience stores are not only competing with fast-food restau­rants but also with Starbucks and other coffee shops where people linger over caf­feinat­ed beverages while typing on their devices.

Amazon Lockers and WiFi are features designed to attract a wider range of customers to con­ve­nience stores. These perks also signify a change in people’s per­cep­tion of these stores. Whereas in the past, con­ve­nience stores were places where you spent as little time as possible, they’re gradually turning into places where people want to spend more time. When customers can find a variety of foods and beverages and browse the internet, they’ll be more inclined to hang out at these stores. Con­ve­nience store mobile apps are another high-tech trend that helps customers to pay with mobile devices and take advantage of rewards programs.

CONVENIENCE STORES ARE EVOLVING

These are some of the most notable trends in con­ve­nience store design. Wider trends such as sus­tain­abil­i­ty and alter­na­tive fuels, the desire for faster con­struc­tion, customers demanding higher quality foods and beverages, and digital trends such as mobile apps and Amazon Lockers, are impacting many areas of society and con­ve­nience stores are keeping up with these devel­op­ments. Customers now want and expect more than simply gas and a few staples when they enter these stores. Store owners, for their part, can save money in areas such as energy effi­cien­cy and building con­struc­tion by keeping up with these trends.

The Bautex Wall System offers archi­tects, con­trac­tors and owners a more effective, higher per­form­ing and more resilient solution to con­ve­nience store design and con­struc­tion. Contact us for a free eval­u­a­tion of your next con­ve­nience store con­struc­tion project.