<iframe src="//www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-MK28RS" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden">
Hamilton Beach Commercial Blog


C-Store Innovation: 3 Magic Words to Boost Your Business

11:45 AM on April 8, 2024

C Store Innovation 3 Magic Words to Boost Your Business

What’s the one thing everyone wishes they had more of? Time.

What’s one business that promises to give you more time? Convenience stores.

As a result, we’re seeing incredible growth in the c-store industry. The global market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.6%, reaching $3.12 trillion by 2028, according to Grand View Research. To ensure your company captures a healthy piece of this pie, we have three words to guide your strategy.

1. Flavor

Buc-ee’s, a fuel stop + c-store chain in the American South and Midwest, is big, bright, and in your face. It even holds the world record for largest convenience store: Its Sevierville location measures 74,707 square feet (6,940 square meters). And it’s absolutely beloved by travelers.

“They turned a gas station into a place people go on purpose,” University of Houston economist Dietrich Vollrath said in explaining the Buc-ee’s phenomenon to Marketplace. Buc-ee’s dominance as a travel stop has made it phenomenally successful. “There’s a million people on the road all the time. If you can capture a little piece of that, it makes sense,” Vollrath said.

How did Buc-ee’s become a destination? Some say it’s the really clean restrooms. Some say it’s the cutesy beaver mascot. We think it’s the food: chopped barbecue sandwiches, private-label chips and beef jerky, kolache pastries, and the “Beaver Nuggets” puffed-corn snacks.

Other c-store chains would be wise to carve out their own foodservice niche. “Prepared food, which includes sandwiches, meals and other food prepared onsite, jumped 12.2% in sales to $51,500 per store per month, making it the No. 1 category for all in-store sales in 2023” in the U.S., notes NACS.

2. Convenience

It’s right there in the name: convenience is the reason customers come to c-stores. Savvy operators are seeking new ways to make ordering food, beverages, and other items even more convenient than it already is.

  • Curby’s (a fast-growing Texas chain) reduces wait times by having employees with tablets taking orders in the drive-thru line. Eventually, they want the runner to wear a body camera so that the customer can remotely guide the shopping.
  • bp America is implementing “pay by plate,” which means customers will be able to have their license plate recognized in order to automatically pay for the gas they pump.

3. Customization

A major trend is emerging among younger, Gen-Z customers: a thirst for specialty beverages. Whether it’s due to “little treat” culture (the idea of brightening every day with a small purchase) or a side effect of Gen Z’s decreased interest in alcohol, beverage consumption in the U.S. has been steadily climbing.

The wise c-store operator will ask: How can I get a piece of the specialty-beverage action? First, take a piece of advice we once heard from Joe Chiovera, Executive Culinary & Innovation Consultant for Premium Brands Holdings Corporation: “Foundation before differentiation.” He recommends c-stores identify and cut the bottom 20 percent of SKUs on their menus. Then, focus on innovating and customizing your best-selling offerings.

For Curby’s, that means a customizable iced tea bar with more than 35 sweetened and unsweetened options, including coconut, blackberry, hibiscus and apple pie. Other offerings include rainbow-hued, made-to-order energy drinks; Red Bull refreshers, “dirty” sodas (fountain drinks with added flavors), frozen coffee drinks; and milkshakes.

In addition to iced tea, slushies and smoothies are high-growth beverage categories, according to CStore Decisions. Thinking about adding customized blended drinks to your beverage menu? Hamilton Beach Commercial makes it effortless with beverage equipment solutions that minimize labor.

The SmartServe™ Blend in Cup eliminates the need for blender jars by blending directly in disposable cups. Rapid blending, automatic programming and self-rinsing capability mean speedy service.

The MixStation™ Heavy-Duty Drink Mixer features pre-programmed cycles and variable speed dial that allow operators maximum control while providing consistent results every time.


The Summit® Edge High-Performance Blender feature one-touch AutoBlend, which stops blending once drinks achieve the perfect consistency.

HBH855 3600x2702 pxDiscover our full line of commercial beverage equipment for convenience stores.

Topics: High Performance Blenders, Beverage, Convenience Stores, MixStation, Beverage Automation

Join the HBC Community

Subscribe to this blog

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all
New Call-to-action