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SAN ANTONIO — The convenience channel has been buzzing since Amazon.com revealed earlier this month plans to move into the brick-and-mortar world by opening convenience stores and curbside pickup locations.
Kim Lubel, CEO of CST Brands Inc., spoke to Fortune about the mega online retailer's plans, saying that breaking into the c-store business won't be easy, even for the super-successful Amazon.
"What we sell, things like hot cups of coffee, a breakfast taco, and a gallon of gas, you can't really get on the Internet," the executive commented. "So, finding that magic spot between being large enough to get on scale, but small enough to focus enough on the customer, I think is the way to success in the c-store business. And I think Amazon may be challenged with that."
When asked what she thinks the chance of success is for Amazon if it does get into the c-store business, Lubel explained that the majority of U.S. c-stores are "neighborhood businesses" dominated by family-owned franchises. So her advice: If Amazon can figure out how to convert not just sales, but get customers to be loyal enough to come back into their store, then she thinks Amazon can be successful.
"But it is a person-by-person, conversation-by-conversation basis, so I think for a company that's focused on selling through the digital space, what the c-store customer is looking for a much more personal interaction," Lubel added.
Lubel's interview can be viewed here.
CST employs more than 14,000 team members at more than 2,000 locations throughout the Southwestern United States, Georgia, Florida, New York and Eastern Canada. Its U.S. banners are Corner Stores, Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes, and Flash Foods. In Canada, CST is the exclusive provider of Ultramar fuel and its Dépanneur du Coin and Corner Stores.
To see what other c-store retailers are saying about Amazon entering the c-store business, click here.