Increased Competition: Battling Big Box Retailers

More and more businesses are expanding their services and creeping into territory that was once served primarily by the truckstop and travel plaza industry. Throughout the year, Stop Watch is examining specific groups that are entering this space, including dealerships, carriers’ distribution centers and turnpikes, how they’re changing and what NATSO members need to know about the category. Visit to see all the articles.

Battling Big Box Retailers
Big box stores are working to create greater convenience for shoppers and finding ways to get shoppers to buy something they didn’t traditionally buy at the location. That strategy could attract truckstop and travel plaza customers, cutting into sales at NATSO member locations, said Darren Schulte, vice president of membership for NATSO.

“This isn’t necessarily anything new, but big box retailers are in­creasingly selling products that tra­ditionally belonged in other areas,” Schulte said. “They’re trying to get that customer who may have been one of our customers.”

Lowe’s home improvement stores have added sandwich franchises, Home Depot has added flat-screen televisions, and Walmart and Tar­get have added grab-and-go foods. “Those examples all mean fewer stops for us. Now you can go to Walmart and get a rotisserie chicken to go and gas up your car,” Schulte said.

Retailers are also moving their gr­ab-and-go food offerings to the front of the store. Target recently rolled out its new design ideas for a store in Richmond, Texas, which it said will provide even more convenience. The store will feature two separate en­trances, including one for shoppers that plan to leisurely shop the loca­tion and another for shoppers who are looking to pick up a few items and get in and out quickly.

At the entrance for the speed-con­scious consumer, Target will offer fast access to groceries, a wine and beer shop, self-checkout lanes and a dedicated order pickup counter, which are all located close together. “At the ‘ease’ entrance of the store, you’re in for fast, fun, seamless shop­ping,” Target said on its website.

For those that are in even more of a hurry, Target will offer reserved parking spaces and associates will deliver online orders to shop­pers’ vehicles.

Schulte said Target’s new concept is something operators should no­tice. “Target’s new design with a focus on convenience is something that travel plazas and truckstops can take lessons from. Imagine, smaller format stores that one day place gasoline and diesel pumps out front on their interstate loca­tions,” he said.

To compete, Schulte recom­mends operators continue their fo­cus on speed and convenience and look for innovative ways to add more options to their truckstop and travel plaza locations. “People keep taking business from us, but we don’t always keep adding new opportunities. We have to stop be­ing frightened about putting food trucks on our lots or using our parking lots to sell wood in the winter or flowers in the summer,” Schulte said. “Operators have to think of different things to get people to their locations.” 

via Business Feeds

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