NACS 2021 Recap and Reflections – Surviving the “Shift”

4R and Friends at NACS

NACS 2021 Conference Takeaways

Members of the 4R team recently attended the NACS Show: National Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing. They wanted to share some observations and takeaways. 

Despite a challenging year for businesses, the mood of the conference was upbeat. Retailers and consumers alike are ready to move towards more normalcy. However, many are starting to realize is that the new normal comes with needing the ability to adjust to sudden change- and quickly.  

The first night kicked off with a motivational speaker, Jennifer Powers. Her messages were No Shortage of Shift and Shift Happens. Over the last year, there have been many changes and needs to adapt to those changes and challenges. With any challenge in life, we are forced to react. We have all heard the saying, “It’s not what happens, but how you react to it that determines the outcome.” Jennifer challenged the conference attendees to search for the opportunity in those moments rather than dwell on what is out of our control. We can only control our reaction to the adversity we face, so why not embrace it and devise a plan to accomplish something bigger?  

The last 18 months have revealed some of the biggest challenges, including supply chain issues, labor shortage, and changes in how and where revenue is driven. However, C-store owners, in particular, are faced with pressures—pressures to offer healthier foods, reduce tobacco sales, and accommodate electric vehicles with charging stations—and all sooner rather than later. Gone are the days of tobacco and alcohol dominating the show floor. While they still have a presence, their focus has shifted from traditional products to new trends, like vaping and seltzers. The normal we once knew, no longer exists. 

Many of these “shifts” won’t be easy, but Jennifer recommended remembering that you’re in control and that there is power in the shift. You can choose to do something or do nothing.  

While at the conference, we were delighted to be back, face-to-face, with clients, suppliers, and vendors after more than a year. As an Intelligent Inventory Optimization provider, we are familiar with these challenges. We have found ourselves working with retailers to “make the shift.” When armed with AI and automation, retailers can “make the shift” — from empty spaces to filling spaces with available products that sell well; from overworked and understaffed to managing employees and tasks in areas where they are most important and impactful; from guessing how to balance in-store shelf space with traditional products and healthier items to making better decisions that optimize the shelf space with products in demand.  

The team at 4R truly enjoyed seeing everyone again at NACS 2021, feeling the crowd’s positive energy, and looking forward to the future. Together, we will survive the shift. 

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