The competition for convenience retail stores is fierce. Between regulations and occasionally sharing property lines with competitors, and an ever changing consumer landscape, things aren’t easy. And options for clear cut advantages are always non-obvious. This is where the beauty of logistics comes in. And when we’re talking about advantages for convenience retail stores and logistics, we must look at virtual tours.
Functionally, virtual tours solve three pain points for stores like Wawa, Royal Farms, and Sheetz. They build and maintain organic community outreach, and those of travelers. Second, they decrease the operational costs of these locations; by facilitating internal coercion, standards, and provide training opportunities. Third, they streamline the workflow of external suppliers and contractors, getting you more cost effective bids and less impact on your day to day operations.
What exactly is a virtual tour?
For a convenience retail store, a virtual tour is a 3D digital twin of the physical location. These tours are made with a camera that kinda looks like a cellphone from 1985. The camera sits on a tripod, and takes about 30 seconds to spin a single rotation. It uses LiDAR technology to scan as it spins. After that, the camera is moved about 6-8 feet away, to another spot, and the process is repeated. It would take no more than 15 minutes to complete a convenience retail store. And they can be completed in absolute off hours (think 2am) to minimize impact on operations. But functionally speaking, nothing in the store needs to change for those 15 minutes. Certainly no need to close the doors.
How do virtual tours foster organic community outreach for convenience retail stores?
If you recognize a cellphone from 1985, then you’ll recognize that the people of today are really into their technology. So meeting people where their attention is, is vital. These immersive tours connect seamlessly to the Google Street View platform. Well, so what? Google invested tens of billions of dollars to strap six figure cameras to the tops of cars and map nearly every road in the entire world.
When you map the inside of your own store, naturally, you will rank higher than your competitor who does not have a virtual tour. Turns out, Google has a preference for businesses who see the value of that platform, and engage with it correctly. This edge could mean millions of dollars in added revenue, merely by playing along with what Google wants. It’s a silly trick, but it’s true and it works. It’s also the foundation of SEO.
Breaking brand loyalty, 101.
Wawa, for example, is investing billions of dollars into expanding into new markets- with established names. And despite the clean stores, welcoming signs, and name recognition- people have hardcore loyalty to their morning routines. So what’s the new way to break the ice? Virtual tours. Let curious folks peek inside. Give them a very visual and interactive way to enter your store, to entice them to come and make their first visit. A key step on the journey of loosening brand loyalty.
Brand loyalty is ingrained in human nature, we want to be loyal to the places that nurture us with convenience. But when we intersect the reality of the location of attention of consumers with the absolute must of getting in front of as many new potential daily customers and travelers as possible, virtual tours are the answer.
Reducing operational costs for convenience retail stores with virtual tours.
Virtual tours reduce the operational costs of convenience retail stores. This can be expressed a few different ways. First, in new policy/store feature roll outs. Second, visiting manager/employee orientation. Third, training opportunities. And fourth, diversifying bids for any work that needs to be done on the store.
If there are new and complicated sales features that need to be set up in store, virtual tours can be used to copy the desired final look in test/example stores, and be distributed to store leads. This can ensure consistency in branding and look of stores. It can also be used to set examples of store standards. SOPs, training materials, and other useful information can be embedded right in the tour, for optimal access and ease of transparency.
With a virtual tour, a convenience retail store has a digital twin. This can be used to orientate visiting leaders or associates. New floor plans can be issued to team leads to help familiarize themselves before they step foot in the store, or better yet, before the gas storage tanks in the ground out front have had time to settle.
Virtual tours assist convenience retail stores with employee training. An example of a “messy/poor performing store” can be made up, and new associates can walk around and learn about common issues a store might have day to day, and how to fix them. New materials can be inserted and swapped out with ease.
The fourth and perhaps most important is the diversification of bids an organization can attract. When you have more information, you get more competitive bids, and virtual tours are built for transparency. With the ability to measure between any two points in the store; contractors have every piece of information they need to issue a quote. This means any organization is able to disseminate their RFPs with more transparency, drastically decreasing miscommunication and friction in logistical operations.
Virtual tours streamlining operations for convenience retail stores.
Speaking of fierce competition in convenience retail stores, there is even more for who gets to stock the shelves. Coca Cola, Tasty Cakes, Herrs, and many other well known brands actually stock the shelves with their own products. This is a beneficial system for all, it encourages the distributor to keep fair inventory on the shelves, while also leaving it on them to literally put the product on the shelves.
But virtual tours make this beneficial agreement even better. These tours can be distributed to the vendors, who are then able to distribute them to their drivers and other employees. No more having new contractors wheeling in boxes of merchandise, searching for exactly where it should go. If a convenience retail store is getting a new regional manager for a group of stores, then the virtual tours can be distributed to them, instantly bringing them up to speed on their new territory, servicing you faster.
Logistics is a serious game. And when profit margins are thin, logistics can make or break a company. Virtual tours add a level of transparency that makes it easier for everyone to operate. Easier business environments are profitable business environments.
A legal perspective of virtual tours.
Our virtual tours are court admissible documents. This means that you have an extra layer of documentation of your convenience retail store. From civil unrest to natural disasters- making insurance claims and getting proper documentation; there has never been a more obvious and straightforward answer on the market. Virtual tours can take people into spaces from remote places, and that is simply a benefit that can’t be ignored. The context of it depends on how you deploy it. Luckily, these tours are customizable from the very start.
A conclusion on virtual tours for convenience retail stores.
We covered the three big pain points that are solved by a virtual tour. They build and maintain organic community outreach, and those of travelers. Second, they decrease the operational costs of these locations; by facilitating internal coercion, standards, and provide training opportunities. Third, they streamline the workflow of external suppliers and contractors, getting you more cost effective bids and less impact on your day to day operations.
And with the modern age, having these 3D assets really isn’t a matter of if, but when. And with that it’s important to consider, early adopters of this technology to help with logistics, and the issues above- will simply come out on top.
We’re not building virtual tours because people want to walk into a Wawa or a Sheetz with a VR headset on in their living room. We’re building them to make the locations rank higher on google, and to provide a level of transparency not before possible. Making the lives of the associates, management and owners, just that much better.
Momentum 360 is a Philadelphia headquartered virtual tour frim with a national network of 3D Virtual tour photographers. Momentum 360 has worked with clients like Starbucks, Marriott, and Home Depot, to help fortify and assist in their internal logistics and external marketing, all at once.