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By: APRIL WAITS

NACS Show 2023 Recap: A Glimpse into the Evolving World of Convenience Stores 

With record-breaking attendance, the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Show 2023 proved to be a resounding success. This year’s NACS Show, held from October 3-6 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, drew in 24,084 attendees from 67 countries. 

With such impressive attendance numbers, NACS is the go-to show for anyone in the industry. “We’re focused on building our brand, and we can’t think of a better place to do it than NACS.” Josh Griffin, Vice President of Distribution at PSR Brands. 

Spanning across a 436,100-net-square-foot expo, the NACS Show featured a remarkable 1,261 exhibitors across five categories: in-store merchandise, technology, facility development and store operations, fuel equipment and services, and food equipment and food service programs. 

One of the highlights of the event was the “Cool New Products Preview Room,” which showcased a selection of 300 exciting products. This room was a hub of innovation and a perfect opportunity for attendees to get a first-hand look at the cutting-edge offerings that are reshaping the convenience and fuel retailing industry.

Beyond an array of energy drinks, sweets, snacks, and beef jerky, the NACS Show 2023 provided invaluable insights into how the world of convenience stores is rapidly changing to meet the evolving demands of consumers. “The trends we’re seeing here at NACS are food getting into the C-Store space, digitalization, and people wanting to track users between the pump and in-store purchases,” says Trevor Chong, EVP, Global Sales and Corporate Development at Tillster, Inc.  Sean McGrath, Vice President, Convenience & Strategic Growth Markets at Mondelēz International, echoed the importance of in-store conversions stating, “What we’re seeing from our insights is that it’s all about driving traffic back into the store and driving units.” 

With a focus on convenience, hot food offerings, and innovative technologies, the event showcased the industry’s transformative trends.

One of the noticeable shifts in the convenience store landscape is the growing expectation of expanded offerings, especially when it comes to hot food. Customers are no longer merely seeking snacks and essentials. They now look to convenience stores for hot, freshly prepared food options. This changing customer preference is driving many convenience stores to expand their food service programs, offering a variety of hot and ready-to-eat options. The NACS Show 2023 provided a platform for retailers to explore these emerging trends and discuss strategies for enhancing their food service programs.

Due to the introduction of new C-Store services and changing customer demands, technological advancements were also a prominent theme at the event.  Nino Hörttrich, Head of Global Marketing Retail at Diebold Nixdorf notes, “What we observe [at NACS] is that C-Stores, quick-serve restaurants, and fuel are blending together more and more. That requires new technology that offers new opportunities for new journeys, both for employees in the stores, but also for shoppers and customers.” To meet demand, convenience stores are increasingly incorporating cutting-edge technologies to improve the customer experience and streamline operations. Some of the noteworthy tech trends include:

  • EV Charging Stations: With the rise of electric vehicles (EVs), convenience stores are recognizing the need for EV charging infrastructure. Many are now integrating EV charging stations into their locations, attracting a new demographic of customers concerned about sustainability and looking to recharge their vehicles while they shop.
  • Self-Service Technology: Self-service kiosks have become a common sight at convenience stores. These kiosks not only expedite the checkout process but also enable customers to customize their orders, particularly in the food service segment.
  • Customer Loyalty Programs: To build and retain a loyal customer base, convenience stores are implementing innovative loyalty programs. These programs offer personalized discounts, promotions, and rewards, encouraging repeat business and customer engagement.
  • Updated POS Systems: Modernizing Point of Sale (POS) systems is pivotal for enhancing operational efficiency. The NACS Show highlighted the latest POS solutions that enable retailers to manage transactions, inventory, and customer data with greater ease and precision.
  • Digital Displays: Dynamic digital displays are increasingly replacing traditional signage within stores. These displays can be used for advertising, promotions, and conveying real-time information, creating an immersive and engaging shopping experience.

The NACS Show 2023 acted as a catalyst for these transformations. It brought together industry experts and solution providers who are driving these changes and provided a platform for convenience store owners and operators to explore new ideas, technologies, and strategies. As convenience stores continue to adapt to meet the evolving needs of their customers, the NACS Show remains a vital event for staying at the forefront of the industry’s developments.

Interested in hearing more?

The RETHINK Retail team had the privilege of engaging in insightful conversations with some of the industry’s most brilliant brands from Just Ice Tea, Celsius Holdings, Ferrero, Tillster, Greenfridge, Acosta, Vital Pharmaceuticals Inc VPX, Diebold Nixdorf, Mondalēz International, and more.

Listen to the interviews in the RETHINK Retail NACS Recap video https://rethink.industries/video/rethink-retail-x-nacs-2023-recap-video/