The ‘cornersupermarket’: are convenience stores and supermarkets set to converge?

Tesco’s acquisition of Booker in January is certainly set to have a knock-on effect on the retail world, blurring the lines between supermarkets and convenience stores – but this is no new phenomenon. With the democratisation of enterprise technologies independent convenience stores have increasingly been able to compete with supermarket chains on a level playing field.

The merger follows a trend seen throughout the history of supermarkets and corner shops – the constant need to be agile and not be swept up by the changing landscape. For some retailers, this has meant adopting innovation on their own terms, while others have found their situation benefiting from partnering with symbol groups such as Londis or Nisa.

Technology-driven change

Technology has introduced many new features and services to both types of establishments, from self-service checkouts to contactless payments. In today’s connected world, customers can also be understood better than ever before, through direct feedback online and on social media. As a result, retail outlets can cater to local communities’ needs with relevant products, deals and services.

To be able to compete on even ground, independent retailers have capitalised on adopting leading technology platforms and services such as PayPoint One to provide them with the tools they need to enhance customer service and their core offering. For instance, the ability to cater to customers of all financial preferences by providing a full choice of payment options, from Apple Pay, to chip and PIN, to traditional cash.

An emerging gap in the market

The UK is seeing an increasing number of Post Office and bank closures, leaving a huge gap in the services offered to local communities. Millions of transactions for bill payments, parcel handling (including Click & Collect) – services that everyday people rely on to go about their lives – are coming under threat.

Supermarkets are unable to step in and provide a solution, however with a proven track record of decades of tech-led innovation, convenience retailers using the PayPoint platform have the tools to cater to these customers. PayPoint’s UK network contains more branches than all banks, supermarkets and Post Offices together, putting convenience stores at the heart of communities and allowing them to continue using these valued services.

Ultimately, customers are provided with the means to better control their finances, make essential payments, and continue to use the essential services which they rely on. In combination with paying for travel, topping up a mobile phone or buying digital vouchers for use on channels such as Amazon, convenience stores are increasingly becoming a one-stop-shop for all of life’s needs, putting them ahead of the larger supermarket chains.

As both types of establishments continue to innovate over the next few years, we may see the competition between convenience stores and supermarkets diverge. The prominent location of convenience stores, paired with their encompassing service, is likely to consolidate their position in the market and help them to continue to capitalise on how modern consumers want to shop.

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