Staff friendliness, stock availability and the ease and speed of the shopping experience are the most important drivers for c-store shoppers today, according to the latest study from HIM Research & Consulting, the Future of Convenience.

But while the majority of shoppers think c-stores have improved their offers on food-to-go and evening meal solutions, retailers need to keep a constant eye on the evolving competition, as well as shopper profiles, needs and missions to maintain their relevance to their customer base.

For example, in terms of shopper profiles, nearly half of today’s 16-24 year-olds live at home – so they won’t be shopping for home, but will more likely focus on food-to-go, alcohol and snacks; they also wake up with Facebook. Currently the over 55-year-old age group makes up 17% of the population, but this is expected to grow 60% by 2035. This is an age group that is more likely to buy newspapers, and more likely to choose their local store.

The key missions in convenience are top-up, food to go, and meal for tonight, which collectively could be worth £30 billion by 2020, with food to go likely to show the greatest growth at 63% to £7.8bn.

“Growth in convenience will come from focussing on key missions that will deliver against the evolving shopper need,” said Blake Gladman, HIM research director. He stressed the need for retailers to understand their market and their customer base, as one size doesn’t fit all. He said retailers should identify which missions and needs are declining and which are the future.

Retailers also need to move fast: “More and more competition is coming from all directions, and everyone is moving fast to win. Have in mind the FB entrepreneur Mark Zuckerburg quote: ’move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you’re not moving fast enough’.”