What’s Next in the Convenience Services Industry? 3 Trends to Look for as We Enter 2018

With the many significant moves that have taken place in 2017, ranging from advanced technology incorporation to numerous acquisitions made by companies throughout the industry, one cannot help but wonder “What’s going to happen in 2018?”. Luckily, a closer look at these same occurrences provides a “preview” of sorts as to what the some of the major trends for 2018 will be.

1. Technology, Technology, Technology

With the onslaught of technological advancements that began to hit the industry mid-2016, the offering of efficiency-improving, sales-boosting, technology is larger than ever. From USAT‘s ePort Interactive to 365 Retail Markets recently announced Connected Campus, there are multiple solutions that solve different tech-related challenges and promise to take your business to the next level. So then, the natural question that comes to mind next is: Which one is best for my business? The strategy many businesses adopt to answer this question, is one of analyzing their current business capabilities, and then figuring out which of the solutions they can utilize to the highest degree. This approach lessens the possibility of choosing a solution that is too robust or too limited, for your company’s needs now and into the future. Choose a solution that is too robust, and you face the challenge of your company being incapable of completely utilizing all of the solution’s features (which oftentimes leaves the best features of the solution unused). Choose too limited a solution and you end up in a situation that, while the solution served to fulfill its singular purpose, your company still possesses numerous challenges AND the capacity to face them, but no solution to face them with due to insufficient resources to invest in a second solution.

The process of evaluating a company’s needs and capabilities is time consuming. Therefore, we expect to see the trend of technological immersion grow continually, with increasing speed, deep into 2018, as the technological advancements become more embedded within the industry.

2. Revamping Strategic Plans to Incorporate Millennials & “iGen’s” Around the Corner?

Now that millennials have been a part of the workforce long enough, we are beginning to see, first hand, the results of the changes they have brought with them instead of only being able to see the changes themselves. Along with these newfound results, the opportunity to use them to benefit your company from an organizational standpoint as well as a revenue standpoint exists. Figuring out how to maximize their job satisfaction is one of the KEY factors in keeping them engaged, allowing them to continually churn out their best work. Is this a first tier priority? Not necessarily, but a negative company culture has the ability to severely inhibit your company’s productivity and earning potential in the long run. Combine that potential outcome with the facts that, time only moves forward and they are here to stay, and it only makes sense to get ahead of the curve instead of trying catch up the curve.

And since were on the topic of the upcoming generations, as scary as it may be, the “iGen’s” are right around the corner. For those of you who may not have heard this moniker yet, the generally accepted meaning of this term, is the group of people who grew up with the iPhone. The reason this group is even worth taking notice of is because there has been a noticeable difference in their acceptance rate of technology, as well as their “norms”. According to some sources (that have much looser boundaries in regards to what year this group starts at) the earliest members of the iGeneration would be around 24, which would make them old enough to have already joined the workforce as well as begun affecting purchasing patterns. So, for all those early adopters out there, while it is still too early to pin anything down as a fact in relations to the “iGen”, becoming informed about them may be worth your while. Who knows? You may just stumble on to the next big trend without even knowing it. Either way, they are the group that is next in line to affect change on the economy, so you will need to know about them eventually.

3. Enhancing Current Operations Processes

This trend somewhat touches on the same things as trend #1. The only difference is that the trend of Ops Enhancement can be directly related to micro markets. While everyone in the industry can agree that micro markets are here to stay, a large number of operators are still figuring out how to perfect the concept to benefit their operations. In fact, the October edition of the Vending Times Magazine included a quality article reviewing the “Mastering Micromarkets” workshop led by Dr. Michael Kasavana & Jim Brinton. In the aforementioned article, in addition to relaying a significant amount of useful firsthand knowledge that was shared at the event, they highlighted key resources that can be used to improve an operator’s micromarket line of business. With the micromarket concept demanding industry-wide acceptance, and this much quality information floating around, it’s inevitable that we will see a lot of operations improvement strategies being undertaken in the coming year.

Well there you have it, those are a few of the trends we expect to see this coming year.
However, as we all know, unexpected events will come along as well. So, just remember: Expect the unexpected!

Interested in what drives Five Star Food Service’s strong micro-market growth rates? Interested in finding out if a micro-market is right for your business? Learn more here