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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 cien​cy​.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.