10/08/22; CS News
CHICAGO — With technology playing an increasingly more important role in the convenience channel, retailers from big chains to small operators continue to include it in their conversations.
One retailer that stands out for embracing technology is Sheetz Inc. The Altoona, Pa.-based convenience retailer has long been known for its made-to-order (MTO) foodservice offerings — and along with it, ordering kiosks — but its innovation stream has moved beyond what has become standard in the industry to new tech spaces like digital currencies and subscription programs.
It is for its forward-thinking take on retail technology that Convenience Store News has selected Sheetz as its 2022 Technology Leader of the Year.
This annual award goes to a technology leader (individual or company) who not only contributes to the success of their organization, but also to the advancement and growth of the convenience store industry as a whole.
Sheetz CEO Travis Sheetz will accept the company’s 2022 Technology Leader of the Year award at this year’s CSNews Technology Leadership Roundtable & Dinner being held Saturday, Oct. 1 in Las Vegas.
Tapping Into Technology & Innovation
Sheetz does not just talk technology; it is investing it full force. In September 2019, the convenience store operator announced it was establishing a technology and innovation hub in Pittsburgh. The hub will focus on developing, testing and implementing what Sheetz calls “transformative products and services.”
With the announcement, Emily Sheetz, Sheetz’s assistant vice president of strategy, said Sheetz’s mission was “to create a business that puts the Sheetz as we know it today, out of business.”
Among its other notable moves, Sheetz became the first c-store chain to accept the digital currency in-store and at the pump in May 2021. Most recently, it entered the subscription space with a $9.99 monthly subscription program for its “fryz” and an unlimited self-service drink subscription for $14.99 a month available through the Sheetz mobile app.
Aside from customer-facing innovations, Sheetz is using technology to improve its operations. Earlier this year, the retailer partnered with RELEX Solutions, a provider of retail optimization software, in an effort to ensure an efficient flow of products from suppliers to stores, as well as support store growth and supply chain growth.
Additionally, it signed a multiyear agreement with Pear.ai, an energy intelligence platform, in February 2021 to manage its energy use.
Established in 1952 in Altoona, Sheetz is a family-owned and operated convenience store chain with more than 23,000 employees. Sheetz provides a menu of MTO sandwiches and salads, which are ordered through unique touch-screen order points. The retailer operates more than 640 store locations throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio and North Carolina.
Sheetz plans to strengthen its deep roots in its home state. It recently announced it wants to expand in Western Pennsylvania with a goal of opening as many as 30 new locations in the region in the next three to five years.
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