Store design plays a crucial role in attracting customers and driving foodservice sales in convenience stores, according to “Food-Forward C-store Design,” a study produced by Chicago-based Technomic and Chute Gerdeman, a retail branding and design agency based in Columbus, Ohio.

Noting that more convenience retailers are pursuing foodservice as a growth opportunity, this cutting-edge study helps readers to understand how evolving consumer demands and preferences for prepared foods and beverages can be met through convenience store design, décor and layout.

"Foodservice is now a strategic priority for the majority of convenience retailers, and the competitive landscape requires them to raise the bar on store design to increase consumer appeal," says Donna Hood Crecca, associate principal at Technomic. "Understanding which layouts meet consumer needs and message quality is crucial."

Key takeaways from the study include:

  • An updated, elevated store ambience is vital to foodservice sales, as it sends a message about the commitment to foodservice and conveys cleanliness and quality.
  • Ease of navigation is priority among the 1,000 consumers surveyed, and clearly delineated foodservice preparation, display and dining areas heighten the appeal of the offering.
  • Consumers value foodservice quality and freshness cues in convenience stores. Whether at made-to-order stations, in grab-and-go cases or on hot/cold food bars, consumers want to see the prepared foods offered and appreciate other visual elements that support the quality and freshness of the offerings.

"As convenience stores see increased cross-category competition with both retail and foodservice providers, it's important to understand what is driving consumers into the store and keep them coming back. The environment and experience are key to building brand loyalty, and we sought to understand how changing values and behaviors influence how consumers want to engage and interact with the convenience store and dining moving forward," says Lynn Rosenbaum, vice president, brand environments at Chute Gerdeman.