July 06, 2018

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.


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