What Do the Latest Trends in Retail Mean for Truckstops?


The retail industry has experienced significant change over the past decade, and the pace of change shows no signs of slowing down. While no retailer will be exempt from the changing face of retail, staying current on industry trends can help truckstop and travel plaza operators prepare for the future.

“Retailers have to understand how to change in ways that will make them relevant to what people want,” said Michael Sansolo, research director for two of the Coca-Cola Research Councils and a keynote speaker at NATSO Connect. “The question is, ‘What changes are coming to us and what are we going to do about it?’”

The forces of change are economic, demographic, technological and societal. “Retailers say the status quo is dead. One of the people changing it is Amazon,” Sansolo said, adding that one thing that makes Amazon unique is management accepts mistakes. “They are in the retail business and what they are thinking is, ‘We will keep trying things.’”

Today’s shopping experiences are controlled by the shopper, which means retailers have to do more to win customers. “The smartphone has moved power to the consumer and away from the retailer,” Sansolo said. “We’re all going to have to be a lot more flexible and creative in this new future.”

A Holistic Shopping Experience
Today’s shoppers want more from the stores they visit and are looking for engaging retail experiences, said Darren Schulte, vice president of membership for NATSO. The trend, which was initially driven by younger consumers and their preference for experiences over price and product, appeals to shoppers of all ages.

Sansolo told attendees at NATSO Connect that Wegmans supermarket, for example, has turned grocery shopping into a fun activity. “You walk into those stores and it is an event, and it is an event centered around selling things every other supermarket is selling,” he said...

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Mindy Long's photo

Before launching a full-time freelance career, Long edited NATSO's Stop Watch magazine. Prior to that Long worked as a staff reporter for Transport Topics, a weekly trade newspaper, covering freight transportation, fuel and environmental issues. In addition to covering the transportation sector, Long has written, reported and edited for a variety of media outlets. She was the Washington correspondent for WCAX-TV (CBS) in Burlington, Vt., a criminal court reporter in Chicago and a freelance copy editor for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine in Washington D.C. Long hold a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Ill., and a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Westminster College in Salt Lake City.More
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