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C-Store Decisions  |  March 10, 2020 

Mobile wallets and use of mobile apps are expected to grow in 2020 as customers set expectations with retailers.


“One of our recent customer surveys indicated that there is still a large gap in checkout expectations across consumer age brackets,” said Perry Kramer, managing partner at consulting firm Retail Consulting Partners. Of customers ages 18-37, 65% said a mobile app or wallet for checkout would influence the store they shopped at, while only 33% for those ages 37 and older agreed. 


Kramer noted retailers today are investing in new payment technologies

thatsupport contactless payments. “Specific to the c-store space, we have

seen aslower investment in the development of mobile wallets and mobile

apps that support payments,” he said. “This can often result in a disjointed

experience if the c-store has a franchise like a Dunkin’ Donuts in it that has a

powerful mobile wallet that speeds checkout, and then that same customer

has to stand in line at the c-store register under the same four walls and

have a slower legacy experience.”


In 2020, Retail Consulting Partners sees increased movement toward self-

service features, including order-ahead online or in-app, or via in-store



The rise of frictionless checkout is expected to be significant across retail

channels. C-stores have higher-than-average in-store percentage of cash sales, Kramer noted, which makes it more challenging to achieve a return on investment on improvements made to the payment experience in a reasonable time. “We are seeing retailers that have any type of order-ahead services or loyalty rewards being the earlier adopter of mobile wallets and mobile apps that support payments.” 


Mike Fogarty, owner of Denver-based Choice Market, with two locations and two more set to open this year in Colorado, is embarking on a full digital transformation of the c-store chain’s app, e-commerce website and in-store kiosk that will feature a unified omni-channel experience, launching with the opening of its third location this spring. “In our current stores, we do online ordering — you’re able to order ahead, you’re able to order delivery, but it’s all different systems and it’s very disparate. We want one unified customer experience,” Fogarty said.  


As a part of this omni-channel experience, Choice Market has partnered with a strategic tech partner to help guide its path toward incorporating such technologies as vending machines, unattended micro markets and even “full-vision self-checkout.”  


“With frictionless, as people know, it’s quite costly, and you just have to make sure it’s a good fit,” Fogarty said, adding, for Choice, it offers problem-solving capabilities because many of its products — from produce to bagels and coffee — don’t have barcodes. Allowing customers to check-in and let cameras track the rest would be convenient, he said. 

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