Beverages have been a c-store staple from the beginning, but their ongoing growth and diversification is focused squarely on the future.

Beverages are a convenience store staple, a core category, there from the beginning. If the first c-store dates from 1927, and if the Golden Age of Commercial Bottling was the last quarter of the 19th Century, you’d have to guess that the first c-store had, at the very least, a few packaged beverages to offer thirsty travelers.

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As for dispensed beverages, well, they didn’t make their way into industry until much later. By most accounts the technology came en masse to stores and Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) in the 60’s, just as the last, classic, shop-on-the-corner soda fountains were fading from commercial view.[2]

Once the dispensed beverage machine made it into the market, innovation soon followed in the form of the frozen dispensed beverage, the ICEE being the first to enter the c-store industry. Today the dispensed beverage is practically a category of its own, and it’s far from a static one. Here’s a list of the ten biggest dispensed beverage trends you can look for this year from Convenience Store News.

When it comes to beverages packaged in bottles, cans, and other containers, fierce competition has forged product (and marketing) innovation. Sure there are the kinds of old reliable favorites that you’ll find in an article list like this, but NACS and others are predicting rapidly moving packaged beverage trends that will be part of shaping the future.

For example, there’s a concerted attempt to broaden the appeal of alcohol beyond that of its core customer base, as reported here by Forbes. You’re going to see more flavors, eye-catching packaging, and—counter-intuitively—a lot of movement on the non-alcoholic beer, wine, and refreshers front.[3]

The rise of energy drinks is likely no surprise given their sustained prominence in most stores as a 21st century convenience store staple. And the move toward healthy food in general has influenced the growth of healthy drinks such as kombucha (sometimes as a dispensed beverage even).

While we’re talking about beverages, are you sure you’re getting every drop of profit out of the ones you’re carrying? If you have your doubts, consider an investment in SSCS technology. We’ve decades of experience in streamlined, precise convenience store inventory solutions and can help you nail down what’s worth carrying in your beverage categories. In addition, our software precisely tracks expenses across the components of dispensed beverages (syrup, napkins, cups, straws, etc.). If you’d like to learn a little more about maximizing your store’s beverage potential, don’t hesitate to call us at 1-800-972-7727.


[1] Fun Fact: Bottled beer was invented 440 years ago. But there wasn’t a network of retail monasteries to sell them!

[2] There are hot dispensed beverages, too, coffee at the top of the list, but they deserve their own future post. To satisfy your caffeine-leaning cravings for now, read this post from the archives of the SSCS Blog.

[3] And just for the heck of it, here’s a history of bottled beer, because it’s interesting (and may be evolving into its own kind of dispensed beverage).