Back Office Software For Convenience Store - Everything You Need To know

Published on:
May 28, 2024
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After the pandemic, the convenience store industry not only recovered in record time, but also reached $300 million in sales in 2022, and is expected to maintain the growth spectrum, well beyond 2024. 

Simply put, the trend shows that convenience stores and retail are good at adjusting and can maintain their development in response to the changes in customer needs. 

However, the convenience store industry faces many challenges that pose a hindrance to the overall growth momentum.

Apparently, the industry's tip of the iceberg is translated into rapidly increasing gas costs and extraordinary price hikes. 

On top of that, customers’ expectations are changing at a rapid pace, while other sectors compete to appease their attention and dedication. 

To win against their competitors, c-stores must adhere to their promise of delivering a better customer experience that annihilates the competition. This is only possible by embracing technology - or precisely speaking, a robust back office software for convenience stores.

Further on that note, the key lies in tapping into the power of data and analytics through a full-featured convenience store management software package. Retail and convenience store executives reportedly gain control of their business using this technology to make decisions based on facts, drive revenue up with optimized product sales, and scale their business to meet their customers' changing demands.

Moreover, the interplay of data and analytics in an effective Back office software for convenience stores provides several benefits to your operation, which we will explore in more detail below.

If you're new to the C-store automation concept, here's a quick look at what it is and why it's important, as well as what the most useful back office software for convenience stores can do for you.

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What is Back Office Software for a Convenience Store?

The back office software for convenience stores can put everything you need to run your business right at your fingertips. Instead of using multiple systems and juggling a ton of paperwork to stay on top of your operations, you can streamline and automate just about everything.

As a result, doing so allows you to put more time and energy back into the day-to-day running of your store—and even to shift your focus from working in your store to working on it.

The cruciality of effective in-store operations optimized inventory control, and refined customer experience for driving revenue and retaining market viability are emphasized by almost 6,000 store closures in 2019.

Convenience store software is an end-to-end solution that addresses these exigency requirements by providing a suite of tools and functionalities to simplify back-end processes and operational efficiency enhancement.

Automating a C-store not only helps a store look up-to-date and more attractive but also separates it from the competition. Often seen as industry pioneers, businesses that draw on cutting-edge technology frequently provide a more systematized and efficient shopping experience. Inversely, stores without automation, or other technological resources appear untrustworthy or somewhat undesirable as shoppers increasingly connect technological savvy to credibility and comfort. 

Digital signage, in particular, has become a prominent feature in modern retail environments.

Stores utilizing digital signs can create engaging and interactive displays that capture customers' attention and enhance their shopping experience. These digital displays can provide valuable information, promotions, and entertainment, creating a dynamic environment that sets the store apart from its competitors.

Why Do You Need Back Office software for Convenience Stores?

  1. Control Your C-store Operation From Anywhere

The convenience store industry is all about hustle, bustle, and keeping your customers satisfied! In today's retail world, slow, clumsy, and labor-intensive manual processes can cost you a bundle. That's why you need convenience store back office software that's specifically designed to optimize your time and resources.

Before anything else, you should understand the potential of the cloud! Throw away those bulky servers and recover space in your store or office. Through cloud-based back office software, you can safeguard the backup of your data from a distance at an excellent price.

You won't be concerned about data loss or hardware failure anymore! 

But wait, there’s more. For a C-store that has more than one store location, the cloud is powerful. Data transferred and tracked from store to store should be as easy as a click of a button. Your business can centralize operations, and also gain real-time data insights on sales and customer behavior all across your businesses.

With an internet connection, you can do everything for your back office from anywhere. Whether you’re in a back store with a tablet, sitting on the couch at home with a laptop, or on the road in Germany with a smartphone, you can track all of your back office c store needs.

  1. Enhanced Inventory Management 

The average convenience store, according to The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), carries over 3,000 SKUs (stock-keeping units). Some stores even have as many as 5,000 SKUs! That’s a lot of products to manage.

Additionally, the convenience store industry faces a serious problem in terms of inventory shrinkage.

the research conducted this year determined there has been an increase in shrinkage rate (to 1.6%, up from 1.4% )and it represents $112.1 billion in losses as a percentage of total retail sales in 2022.

Given the fact that prices of goods continue to fluctuate, with numerous vendors passing the increases along, convenience store operators must be diligent in managing product pricing. 

To make good inventory decisions, you need an accurate view of the product sales mix. That way, the decisions you make about what to stock are practical to your business needs and build trust with your clientele. 

But how can you do this when manual processes and rogue pricing are holding you back?

Automated systems enable standardizing processes, reduce costs associated with dead inventory, and stay informed about volatile pricing trends by streamlining inventory management. With the implementation of automation, you can avoid stockouts of your top-selling items, identify buying habits, and stay competitive in the C-store industry. 

  1. Enhanced Staff Accountability 

As a convenience store owner or manager, you know the value of a reliable and responsible team. But it's not always easy to keep tabs on employee performance, especially when you're not on site. That blind spot can give rise to problems such as theft, carelessness, and lousy customer service that ultimately hit your bottom line.

In terms of empirical data, job satisfaction has a greater impact on turnover intention than organizational commitment. This implies that employees who are dissatisfied with their jobs are more likely to intend to quit, regardless of their level of commitment to the organization.

One of the challenges with holding staff accountable is in making sure employees are performing their jobs well. Without sufficient supervisors watching them, employees might instead shirk their duties, wander off for long breaks, or even engage in fraud. 

Furthermore, without clear standards of performance, it is hard to know where employees are struggling and need extra help or training.

One key way that back office software for convenience stores increases staff accountability is through employee permission management. With this feature, store owners and managers can give each employee certain permissions, so that they can access only the features of the software that they need to do their job. 

Convenience store managers can, for example, stop their staff from seeing the cash office, or the inventory room, unless the employee is authorized.

This feature can reduce theft and fraud by limiting access to sensitive areas to only those who need it. 

Another critical element in staff accountability is team monitoring which the Backoffice software provides through its real-time tracking and reporting capabilities.

Managers can monitor employees’ activities, sales performance, and customer interactions as they happen, allowing them to pinpoint areas that need improvement or additional training for their employees. 

For example, managers can track sales data to see which of their employees are meeting their targets and who need additional support. Also, they can keep a precise account of inventory levels and catch any discrepancies early on, avoiding stock loss and shrinkage. 

With a consolidated view of their employees’ performance and activities, managers will be able to take corrective actions and improve across the board in staff accountability.

  1. An Overall Delightful Customer Experience 

As a C-store manager, Your job is to drive customers in-store, ensure products are easy to find, and guarantee how much customers will pay.

Trust is built over time through the ability to provide convenience. 

According to McKinsey consumer surveys, 71% of customers expect companies to deliver personalized experiences, while a whopping 76% of customers feel frustrated if they do not.

However, personalization is achievable only when leveraging data, and convenience stores (c-stores) can crack the barrage of insights by using digital touchpoints in the customer journey.

For example, by analyzing the history of purchases along with the data of the loyalty programs, c-stores can present personally devised deals and discounts to customers to make them feel valued. Also, by giving insights into the data, it can help C-stores recognize the behavior patterns of the customers to create campaigns and promotions for targeting, and resonating with customer behavior.

In addition, data analytics can assist convenience stores in streamlining their operations to match customer demands. From scrutinizing footfall, sales data, and consumer feedback, convenience stores can locate any weak spots for improvements like rearranging product displays, smoothing their check-out process, or heightening customer service quality across the store. 

By putting data and insights into action, a convenience store would cause its customers a flawless and customizable shopping experience, hence ensuring customer loyalty and continuous shopping in return.

  1. Maintenance Management

According to the survey, Fortune Global 500 companies now incur an average of $129 million in annual downtime costs per organization.

Maintenance in convenience stores is very diverse and complex oftentimes even for small stores. 

As a result of this maintenance backlogs can occur.  One of the most critical challenges is equipment failure.  

Equipment failure can cause loss of sales, waste products, and costly repairs.  For example, a failed coffee machine or frozen beverage dispenser can cause lost sales and unhappy customers.  

Additionally, an HVAC system that is not working properly can make a store very uncomfortable which affects customers and employees.

Also, the refrigeration unit maintenance serves to keep perishable products, if they go out, expensive produce can be wasted and sales lost. Regular maintenance such as condenser coil cleaning and refrigerant level checks are required to minimize breakdowns. However, many C-Stores struggle with this maintenance.

This leads to unexpected failures and expensive repairs.

For that reason, Modern convenience stores rely heavily on software to manage their vital maintenance tasks. Many programs are available for C-stores to choose from; one typical solution is a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) that keeps maintenance on schedule and allows store management to look ahead toward potential pitfalls. 

These software systems can even track an item of equipment's complete history of maintenance.

They enable store management to analyze maintenance expenses and probe effective ways to improve them. Increasingly, though, IoT (Internet of Things) technology is appearing on the scene as well, in the form of installed sensors that can detect pre-breakdown conditions in vital store systems and sound an alarm.

How to Choose the Best BackOffice Software for My Convenience Store?

  1. Define Your Needs

If you're in the market for convenience store software, then you likely already know what features you're looking for. 

However, if you're unsure, don't worry! We're here to help guide you through the process. 

When looking for a convenience C-store software, you should think about your specific needs. 

Here are a few questions to start: 

  • First off, how large is your store? Are you running one location or do you have multiple sites?  
  • Next, what types of products do you sell? Are you primarily focused on gas, food, or other items? 
  • Finally, what features are crucial to your operations?
  1. Research and Shortlist Your Options 

Once you have assessed your requirements, it is time to start looking at software options that are specific to the C-store industry. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you find a good fit:

  • Begin an online search for software providers who specialize in C-store solutions.
  • Ask other C-store owners, and industry associations, or even attend trade shows to get recommendations from those who have firsthand experience with certain vendors.
  • Read online reviews on reputable sources like C-store forums, review websites, and industry publications to get a feel for how the software performs and the level of customer support offered.
  1. Scalability and flexibility

Your convenience store is doing well, and you want software can keep up! Find yourself a solution that’s going to grow with you. One that can handle the increased transaction volume and data storage with ease. A scalable solution means you won’t need to upgrade or replace your software anytime soon - saving you both money and headaches.

  1. Go On a Trialing Spree

To verify that the software meets your unique needs, you can experiment with its features and functionality via a demo or trial. By doing so, you will get a hands-on look at its capabilities and uncover any potential issues.

Once the demo has won your approval, roll the software out to a small group or site to measure its performance in an actual environment. This will help you see how the software meshes with other important systems, such as inventory management, and impact on daily business.

 You'll see where the software gets bogged down and where there is room for development, and it will help shape the decisions you make about the software's scalability and flexibility.

How Does Xenia Help You To Run a Convenience/ Retail Store Smoothly?

Xenia’s mobile-first app is designed for effective communication, scalability, and better visibility into day-to-day store tasks across multi-locations.

This program is specifically created for store teams and field personnel. It gives a daily dashboard view of the necessary tasks and operational routines. 

District Manager Use Case

As the head of a field team, you can log into the Xenia Back office software for a convenience store for instant view in all the supported stores. See the bigger picture on processes; what’s been going on since the last time an employee came by, and take corrective actions. 

Perform audits, access historical data for coaching/training, and assign easy tasks.

For instance, if a manager observes that one store is consistently running out of a popular product, he or she can swiftly order more stock and modify the inventory settings so that future stockouts are avoided.

The best part is In a single app, you can see operational procedures, assigned elements, and tasks such as HACCP logs, temp checks, mystery shopper audits, and store visits. Real-time updates, important announcements, and relevant reporting and insights are delivered through the web portal designed for operations leadership and department heads.

Ticket Routing and Maintenance Requests

What's more, with easy-to-create templates and checklists, tasks and forms can be assigned in a snap. In a few clicks, managers can select the appropriate task/checklist, specify the employee or location, and assign it with a due date.

And voila! Done and done.

An example could be giving a Cleaning Schedule checklist to an employee at Store C, due tomorrow when the manager logs in. The employee receives it on their Xenia app, fills it out, and submits it back to the manager for review. They can then track progress and see if the task is complete.

For added ease of use, pre-made templates for common retail operations have been provided for C-store managers. Templates are available in inventory management, customer service standards, and food safety protocols. You simply choose and download the templates, and then customize them to fit your requirements. 

Real-Time Reporting

Users can access the Xenia web portal to obtain real-time updates and a consolidated dashboard. Home office teams, operations leaders, and designated personnel can see current tasks, overdue items, due today, due this week, total tasks, and task completion rates through a chart. 

They can also assign work, send project-specific announcements, and diagnose how stores are operating day-to-day via the heartbeat dashboard.

But that is not Xenia Reporting’s complete auditing story.

By transmitting audit results rapidly, managers can assign corrective tasks directly to the correct people quickly, allowing quick resolution and actions on issues. Additionally, sharing positive audits allows managers to laud and recognize high-performing stores, which engenders a culture of excellence.

Brand Standardization 

Brand standardization is not only living up to your customer standards but maintaining a brand that’s the envy of other competitors.

Simply put, brand standardization is much simpler when you have a handy c store software with a centralized view of simultaneous processes and everything that goes into the overall upkeep.

For brand standardization, convenience stores occasionally conduct audits. These audits are either directly conducted by a designated staff member from management’s side, by sending that person to the location.

Or, there’s a mystery shopper audit where an undisclosed official randomly visits a convenience store and photographs elements of interest. These professionals, then directly take images of any issues they spot and log them into the software. 

Depending on the operation’s nature, a task is assigned to the store manager, or a particular assignee to flag and resolve the issue.

Brand standardization is much simpler when you have handy convenience store software to conduct audits, inspections, and vice versa through a dedicated task menu, customizable checklists and SOPs.

With C-Store’s AI-powered SOP builder, you can:

  • Create custom SOPs for any store operation.
  • Use AI-powered suggestions to improve SOPs.
  • Assign SOPs to specific stores or teams.

Automated Logs

Xenia has a powerful log builder that automatically maintains a trail of each task activity while it goes through different completion phases.

  • When was the task first assigned?
  • Who was the designated assignee to take care of the issue?
  • Did the task category change as a result of an audit turning into an inspection?

You get a full view of these logs for increased accountability, saving you the time and hassle of physically visiting each store or communicating with the concerned manager in person.

Summing It Up

By 2025, the market for Back office Software for convenience stores is anticipated to reach $3.4 billion, registering a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 12.4% over the forecast period (2020-2025).

 This immense growth is attributed to surging demand for efficient store operations, enhanced customer experience, and data-driven decision-making.

 The conventional methods of managing convenience stores are not sufficient anymore, and hence retailers are embracing advanced software solutions to stay competitive.

Investing in automation will put you in good stead for thriving in a volatile industry

Don't delay; automate your C-store operations today!

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