LAS VEGAS—“Phygital.” It’s not a word you’ll find in your Merriam-Webster, but it should be a part of your vocabulary all the same. As you might have guessed, it’s a combination of the physical and digital worlds—and if you want your c-store to remain part of the conversation, it’s a concept that you need to embrace.

“Today’s consumer expects an omnichannel relationship with restaurants and retailers, as hastened by the pandemic,” said Matt Newberg, editor and founder of HNGRY and moderator of Saturday’s session, “Are You Phygital?”

“This means that, by default, a customer should be able to order food or merchandise for delivery or in-store pickup alongside the physical experience they’ve come to know and trust from a retail brand,” Newberg said.

“There are some occasions where a customer needs something in minutes and is willing to pay a premium for the convenience of having it delivered. There are other occasions where a customer wants to save on the premium of delivery but still values the convenience of quickly picking up pre-bagged items from a store. Lastly, there are still many occasions where customers want to enjoy the in-store experience of discovering new products or, in the case of foodservice, dine on-premises.”

The failure to embrace the blend of both physical and digital consumer experiences may ultimately lead to the failure to turn a profit.

“As technology companies like DoorDash and Gopuff spend billions of dollars to offer unprecedented convenience and assortment, c-store owners who simply rely on in-store sales are leaving an increasing amount of revenue on the table,” Newberg said.

One example of a c-store that is delivering on the modern customer’s expectations is Foxtrot.

“Newer retailers like Foxtrot have recognized this opportunity, doubling down on a hybrid online/offline experience that not only creates a delightful in-store experience but offers its private-label products for delivery or in-store pickup,” Newberg said. “When executed properly, retailers can build a flywheel between in-store and online channels, staying top of mind for any occasion.”

Foxtrot’s flywheel includes a loyalty program that unlocks both in-store and online purchases, including free delivery, free in-store coffee and discounted beverages for customers who spend at least $100 per month, an incentive that is leading to purchases that are split almost evenly between physical and digital.

Then there are c-stores like Amazon Go and Circle K with autonomous checkout capabilities, plus upstarts that offer the ability to order restaurant food alongside convenience staples through Gopuff Kitchen and DoorDash’s multiretailer DoubleDash functionality.

Also in this issue from NACS Show Daily