Blog Series

Seizing the Opportunity to Innovate

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, the pandemic opened the door for new services and programs in the convenience channel.
Melissa Kress
Executive Editor
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A man with a retail rewards card

COVID-19 impacted all of our lives — the effects of which many of us are still feeling in one way or another — but there is no doubt the pandemic offered an opportunity to change for the better.

Here in New York, where I live, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and then-Mayor Bill DeBlasio often said the state and city would not just reopen, but reopen smarter. Whether that indeed happened is a debate for another time and place, but operating smarter in the wake of the pandemic certainly applies to today's convenience store industry. 

Take Huck's Convenience Stores, for example. The Carmi, Ill.-based retailer teamed up with Punchh, a San Mateo-Calif.-based loyalty platform, to develop and launch the Huck’s Bucks Bigg Rewards program in 2020. Though the majority of consumers were no longer commuting to work or school, and fuel sales dropped, Huck's knew it needed to do something to give people a reason to walk through the door.

It worked. There were 20,000 signups following the launch, and Huck's is planning to roll out enhancements, including contactless payment, online ordering and pickup, Jon Bunch, Huck's director of marketing and business development, explained during a recent Convenience Store News webinar.

Lori Stout, vice president of marketing for Punchh, pointed out during the same webinar that contactless transactions really earned the trust of customers during the pandemic. "The only good thing to come out of the pandemic was the digital transformation," she said.

Opportunity can be found anywhere — even in the middle of a global health crisis. You just have to recognize when it's knocking. 

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