Actionable Insights From APT's Retail Practice

Convenience Stores Invest in Their People

June 9th, 2017 | Posted by APT in Retail

From major M&A deals to an increased focus on in-store foodservice and beverages, as well as the ongoing evolution of convenience stores from pit stops to destination spots, convenience retail is evolving – and operators must continuously innovate to keep pace.

To inform their efforts, many executives are leveraging test vs. control analysis to trial new ideas on a small scale, determining their incremental impact on the business overall before investing in broader rollout. This approach entails implementing a program in some stores or markets, and comparing their performance to that of similar stores or markets that do not receive the program.

However, one area in convenience retail that has historically been less frequently tested is Human Resources (HR). Due in part to changes in minimum wage laws, HR is currently a major focus in the convenience retail industry. For example, NACS recently hosted an HR forum, and the 2016 NACS Show featured educational sessions covering onboarding, company culture, training, career progression, and more. Additionally, some convenience retailers are investing in new training programs and equipping employees with tools to boost productivity, while others — like Rutter’s and Sheetz — have proactively increased wages.

One reason testing in this area has been less widespread may be that it is often more difficult to pinpoint the true impact of an HR initiative. For example, evaluating a new coffee bar layout by testing it in some stores and not others is a more straightforward analysis than evaluating the impact of manager turnover on key metrics like shrink and spoilage.

Despite the challenge of evaluating programs in this area, it is critical that executives refine their strategies to effectively train their teams and equip them with tools to drive positive customer experiences. Beyond increasing customer satisfaction, and by extension, brand loyalty, investing in the right people programs can reduce shrink and employee turnover, both of which have a negative impact on brands’ bottom lines.

With so many different people-focused programs to consider, continually testing new initiatives will be the fastest and most reliable way for executives to inform their decision-making. With this approach, convenience retailers will unlock the insights necessary to design programs benefitting employees, customers, and the company’s bottom line.

For APT SVP Marek Polonski’s perspective on this and other industry trends, check out his CSP article, “5 Top Trends for Convenience Retail in 2017.”

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