Guiding a Convenience Store Chain to a New Market on Deadline and on Budget

Apr 29, 2024

An East Coast convenience store chain with a devoted following planned to enter a new market with a branded travel center. However, their existing POS system was better suited to local shoppers and lacked support for the payment systems trucking and shipping companies use to refuel on the highway.

Specifically, their software did not support high-speed diesel (HSD) or purchases made with over the road (OTR) fleet cards, which drivers depend on to charge payments for fuel and other expenses. Further complicating the company’s efforts, fleet card payments are dominated by a single company, Comdata. Very few POS systems are designed to support Comdata’s functionality. But you can’t open a travel center without the ability to accept these payments.

With a target date of less than a year to open the new travel center, the company needed to find the right solution quickly. Here’s what we did.

A Methodical, Platform-Agnostic Approach to Finding the Right POS System

Before the company could begin with implementation, it needed to choose the right payment system to gain a foothold in a potentially lucrative new market. At Kitestring, we take a platform-agnostic approach to evaluating software for our clients. We run selection studies of every available software, and apply POS requirement templates to identify the best option regardless of the system provider.

We began this engagement by conducting a jobs-to-be-done analysis on the company’s current POS software to provide a baseline. As part of our unique product design approach, the process documents all the tasks the travel center needed to accomplish on an individual and systemic level and the time required for completion. This allows us to document each job the new POS software must accomplish while identifying potential problem areas and opportunities for improved efficiency. 

Then, we conducted vendor demos and scored the results of each software platform on its ability to satisfy the requirements of the current system and support OTR payment cards of their customers. We recommended a solution and high-level implementation approach for a system powered by GK, which signed a strategic agreement with Comdata to support OTR payments.

Securing an Expedited Timeline to Implementation

After our initial engagement, the company explored possibilities with their existing vendor. However, the OTR payments remained a sticking point. Armed with the detailed processes and plans from our selection study, they chose to move forward with implementation of a GK solution. 

We start every implementation with a discovery process for custom software design systems.  A GK implementation typically takes 3 months and includes dozens of code customizations to support a retailer’s specific needs. But we know GK systems very well, and we know the questions most POS software vendors ask. Since we were up against the clock, we walked the convenience store company through every question GK would need to answer about a new architecture to minimize customizations. The more customizations you have, the higher your costs to implement and maintain the system with upgrades further down the road.

Our experience allowed us to control scope and limit custom modifications of the software to control costs and protect the company’s timeline while also minimizing its technical debt in the future. By working to provide a streamlined path toward implementation, we ensured the project remained within scope and its target budget.

Our work paid off. The typical discovery process for POS systems takes 3 months and includes 30 code customizations. We condensed discovery into a single month with fewer than 10 customizations in total that we needed to design.

Meeting an Ambitious Go-to-Market Date with a Tested and Sustainable POS System

From here, the company’s travel center initiative was off and running. Kitestring is working with the company for a third engagement to provide implementation. We’re delivering program management, architecture support, business requirements, and testing strategy for the launch of the travel center’s POS system.

By guiding the company with technical knowledge, experience, and preparation, the travel center will meet its ambitious deadline on budget. With a target date of January 1, 2025, the store chain will have its POS software ahead of schedule with ample time for testing.

How can Kitestring enable your company to reach its goals? Wherever your business needs to go, let’s talk about finding a solution that will fit your needs.