On Mondays when I leave my home in the Mojave desert at 4am, I can still see the stars twinkling above me as the city lights of Palm Springs grow brighter on my drive to the airport. I set the autopilot, start a Cactus Blossoms playlist, then use the forty minute drive to prepare for my work week in Palo Alto, mentally sorting through my upcoming meetings and necessary to-do’s.
As pleasant as this may sound, something very crucial is missing: coffee. I’ve never been the organized morning person who rises twenty minutes early in order to brew a coffee to-go. And since my commute is mostly undeveloped desert, there’s no way to stop for a quick double Americano at Starbucks. After shuffling barefoot in line through security, I can finally buy a hot cup of joe in the airport.
One morning in San Francisco, as my Uber driver navigated us through a dense fog on the 101, I struggled through a caffeine withdrawal headache.
“If you had an espresso machine in your car, I would gladly pay you $20 for a coffee right now,” I said to the driver named Jim. I didn’t realize how closely he was listening. One week later I arrived at the SF airport and requested an Uber. Wouldn’t you know, my old friend Jim accepted my ride.
“I was hoping I’d see you again,” he said. Jim held up a thermos. “Last time you wanted a coffee, look what I have for you.” He said customers loved the novelty, and that he sold several cups a day. I jokingly proposed that he charge his customers an extra dollar for each hour they’ve been awake that day. Talk about demand.
We shared a laugh, but in all seriousness, Jim has demonstrated proof of concept by being open to customer feedback. Maybe Jim also knows that there are approximately 150,000 gas stations with convenience stores in the U.S. Due to the growing EV market, they will disappear, unless there is radical change in the battery swap concept or a change in gas station business models. (Shell says it will start installing electric vehicle chargers at its gas stations this year)
Since gas is sold at very low margins, retailers make the bulk of their profit as convenience stores. The current size of the gas station plus convenience store market is $352.6 billion.
A relevant market size. Some of these products could be sold in SAV in-vehicle convenience stores. The startup, Cargo Systems Inc., for instance, helps rideshare drivers earn more money by providing complimentary and premium products to passengers.
With time becoming a busy consumer’s most valuable commodity, the In-Vehicle convenience store concept shows great potential. Until you can press a button on the car’s dash and enjoy a fresh latte delivered right to your seat, be sure to request Jim for your rideshare. Oh, and Jim? Let’s talk cold brew…