Early Innovator: Pioneering the C-Store Drive-Thru

For decades, Square One Markets, in Eastern Pennsylvania, has seen in-store sales steadily grow, but often times, the customers don’t even set foot on the parking lot pavement.

Drive-thru services are becoming more popular among convenience stores, but for Square One Markets, it’s not a new experiment, it’s a profit powerhouse that the family-owned business has relied on for decades.

President and CEO, Lisa Dell’Alba, remembers the moment 30 years ago, when her father announced at the breakfast table that he was adding a drive-thru to their flagship store.

“We all kind of thought he was nuts,” Lisa recalls.

But it turns out that founder, Gary Dell’Alba was a business owner ahead of his time.

“Drive-thru is the busiest part of the store,” said Jessica Luce, Store Manager. “A lot of our income comes from that drive-thru.”

It began as a way to serve tobacco customers faster, but now the store’s motto is: If it fits through the drive-thru window, they’ll bring it to you.

It’s so successful, NACS invited her to educate other c-store operators on how to implement the strategy for themselves.

“I’ve shared too many of my secrets, because everyone is doing it,” Lisa said, only half-kidding. “But to be able to talk about something my dad put together and developed, that does so well for us, is really cool. We’re really proud of it.”

The average c-store shopping trip takes between three to four minutes, according to NACS. That includes a 35 second walk from the car to the store, 71 seconds to select items, 42 seconds in line, and 44 seconds to leave the store.

Lisa’s drive-thru shrinks most shopping experiences to a minute or less, and because they keep frequently bought items near the window, sometimes transactions take as little as 30 seconds to complete.

When customers are cruising through 75% faster, cashiers need equipment that can keep up. Square One Markets is outfitted with Passport® Point-of-Sale to keep the drive-thru line moving at all times.

Click here to learn more about Passport POS and the rest of the C-store Suite of Solutions.