Technology is data. The world is full of data. Every action that you do is data. Every word you speak is a data. You walk, you dance, you speak, you sleep, you study, everything is data. But how can you be winning in technology within the convenience sector?

Earlier this week I had the privilege of speaking at the 3rd annual Think Smart event, hosted by SLR magazine. https://thinksmart.slrmag.co.uk. ThinkSmart3 is the UK’s leading tech, data, digital and loyalty conference for the convenience sector

The overarching theme of the conference is how the convenience industry needs to recognise that technology is a vital tool in driving continued growth. However, traditionally it’s an area in which this industry has fallen behind its competitors. Research from KAM found that 66% of UK adults don’t think convenience store have changed in the last 5 years.

I was joined on stage by representatives from McCurrach, Henderson Technology, Quick Cheetah, The Wholesale Company (TWC), Miconex, Wiseshelf, United Wholesale Scotland and JUUL Labs. Each presentation focussed on the power that technology can bring. To both improving in-store (back of house) efficiencies and improving the customer experience, and ultimately drive the convenience industry forward.

Exclusive KAM Media research 

KAM Media carried out research specifically for the event, showing that only 15% of UK consumers think that convenience stores are keeping up with modern trends (compared to 54% for supermarkets and 32% for discounters). The industry seems to have an image problem!

Technology is such a broad term that it quite often becomes an easy thing to say but a very difficult concept to actually deliver. It feels like every year we speak about the huge opportunity that technology presents to the convenience channel. However, technology is nothing new. Technology, in essence, is the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes. Since the industrial revolution we have been dealing with the development of technology within industry. So simply to say that technology represents an opportunity is to, put it bluntly, saying the bleeding obvious.

So, when we talk about technology as a big opportunity for the convenience channel, what are we really talking about? Robots? Interactive digital screens? Face recognition payments? Artificial intelligence? Drone deliveries? It’s easy to get lost in the concepts and ideas. Many of these opportunities can, on the face of it, seem revolutionary, but it’s increasingly difficult to separate the game-changer from the gimmick. What does winning in technology look like for the convenience channel?

For many retailers, these are concepts which, at their core, won’t fundamentally change their business. It’s like painting your front door, whilst the foundations crumble underneath.

Technology is the producer of data 

Fundamentally we need to think of technology as the conduit through which we can improve efficiencies which enables us to deliver upon the core principles of retail. (Those haven’t changed – more shoppers, more visits, higher spend.) It’s a change in the mindset of what technology is and how it can improve your business. The truth is that we all need to think of technology as producer of data. EPOS, WIFI log-ins, customer apps, push notifications, mobile ordering, delivery – these are all technologies, but more importantly they are data collectors.

Relying on traditions and historical USPs will only ever get us so far. We need to embrace data and build our growth strategy with data at the core. Customer data should be the key basis for driving any future business decisions Understand the data to ensure you are winning in technology..

The 2nd edition of our Thought Leadership Series, titled ‘Winning with Tech’ will be available to download for free from Friday 4th October. Register your interest here.