GNC debuts tech-driven store model as it ramps up expansion; to open flagship

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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GNC is modernizing its in-store customer experience.

As GNC expands its footprint, it is redesigning the role of its stores to deliver a technology-based, customer-centric shopping experience.

The vitamins and supplements retailer said it opened 75 new stores in 2022, and several dozen in 2023 year-to-date, with 88 new commitments and another 15 anticipated by year-end. 

In addition, GNC will open a flagship in its Pittsburgh hometown in summer 2022. Located less than one mile from its global headquarters, the new store will feature approximately 2,400 sq. ft. of retail space and serve as a hometown hub.

"We continue to recognize the importance of staying connected in our local communities, including our home base of Pittsburgh," said Nate Frazier, COO, GNC. "The strategic expansion of our footprint, combined with innovative selling solutions and a strong field team, is allowing us to better service our consumers on their journey to Live Well." (In January, the CEO of GNC, Josh Burris, resigned to take the top spot at Rue21. The company has not announced a replacement.)

As part of its strategy to deliver a more customer-centric experience,  GNC is leveraging its stores as “home bases” from which innovative, tech-driven selling solutions are launched.  While each new location offers full retail capabilities and expert advice, the retailer is enhancing the in-store experience with the introduction of a new social selling tool and mobile point-of-sale system, as detailed below:

• Social selling – Utilizing Salesfloor technology, GNC is bridging and integrating the online and in-store expert customer assistance experience. Shoppers can speak with 100 of the company's “coaches” through real-time chat functionality or video calls, during which the experts walk through the store to help consumers build a wellness routine and complete the transaction virtually.

• Point-of-sale – GNC launched, and continues to enhance, a fully mobile POS system that allows for curbside pickup, same-day delivery, and online sales at its website. With units available in every GNC district, the mobile POS solution enables coaches to sell beyond the store, including the capability to consult and sell products at external events.

“Our brick-and-mortar locations play a fundamental role in our business far beyond serving as a retail destination," said Frazier. "The improvements we've made from a tech standpoint allow us to untether ourselves from the physical store to be more active in the community and sell outside of our four walls to capture consumer interest wherever they want to shop."

GNC is also investing in the future of its field with the recent launch of GNC University, a training, certification, and content platform program available to all U.S. corporate and franchise store associates. 

These enhancements are built upon the successful launch of GNC's ship-from-store and buy-online-pickup-in-store capabilities. In general, GNC is following a broader strategy to provide the best omnichannel customer experience possible.

On the order management side, GNC deploys the Verint Experience Management platform to capture actionable and diagnostic digital experience data to drive enterprise-wide improvements. The company also uses the solution to help gain a deeper understanding of customer and employee sentiment and behaviors with improved access to customer data. 

The company is also utilizing the cloud-based UJet Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) platform as the backbone of its omnichannel, customer service operations. As a result, GNC hopes to leverage the heightened flexibility of the UJet cloud platform to more easily implement new, innovative customer service solutions and integrate with best-of-breed customer experience tools.