Convenience Crystal Ball: What’s Next for the C-store Industry?

The convenience store industry is in a constant state of invention and reinvention.

“A convenience store used to be just a gas station,” says Maplefields’ Special Projects Manager, Brian LaBrie. “It used to be something that had a garage attached to it. It’s beyond that now.”

You don’t even have to step foot inside the store to see the change happening. Building footprints are growing by leaps and bounds.

“1,100 square foot stores are kind of a thing of the past. You’re looking at 3,800 square feet stores now,” says Maplefields IT Director, Skip Potter. Customers want more offerings and operators need more space to accommodate it all.”

For Maplefields’ operation, space is certainly a top priority. Each store is a combination of a deli, coffee shop, small grocery store, and a gas station. And while Skip is ways to be more efficient, he’s also looking for less friction. The ultimate goal for Skip and Brian is breaking down any and all barriers between customers and the buying process.

Fuel dispensers feature contactless payment options. Stores are equipped with Passport Express Lane self-checkout kiosks, essentially making the front counter “cashierless.” A customer can get a made-to-order sandwich, a drink, a loaf of bread, and a tank of gas without speaking to one solitary person, and likely not wait in a line either.

That’s just what Maplefields looks like today. Skip says, if you really want to see something special, just give him a little more time.

“Five years from now you’re going to see a lot of changes,” said Skip. “Ten years from now, you won’t even recognize the c-store industry as a whole.”

We can’t wait.