“Honesty,” “integrity” and “committed to the industry.” These were just a fewof the glowing accolades industry-retailers had for their supplier partnersin Convenience Store Decisions‘ first annual Reader’s Choice Awards.
“We consider our relationships with retail and wholesale partners to be one of our most valuable assets,” said Jane Green, vice president of marketing for Swisher International Inc. in Jacksonville, Fla. “The Swisher sales team strives to provide the best service and category management possible so that we can all grow our businesses.”
In order to find the industry’s Top Performers, CSD summoned Hagen Marketing Research Inc. to act as an independent third-party firm to determine which product manufacturers regularly call on convenience store operators and to learn more about how chains feel about the merchandising and promotional programs these manufacturers are making available to them.
Hagen’s results, available in CSD‘s 2005 Sales Tracking Study, serveas the backbone of the Reader’s Choice Awards. In order to keep the contentfresh and up-to-date, CSD is continues to work with Hagen to refine the2006 study to account for all of the mergers and acquisitions in the suppliercommunity. CSD has also received a verbal commitment from numerous suppliersthat they will encourage retailers to participate in the study in order to makethis the most accurate supplier report available in the industry.
While garnering supplier support is important, it’s the response from retailers of which CSD is most proud. Strong retailer participation is the core value of this report and serves as an indication of just how well earned these supplier awards are.
Information for the study was obtained in interviews with buyers and merchandisers from 95 convenience and petroleum chains ranging in size from five stores to more than 5,000. Combined, the chains accounted for more than $68 billion in sales in 2005.
Unlike other industry surveys, which ask retailers to rate companies on a scale of 1 to 10, CSD asked chains to name names in order to derive real value for retailers and help force change in areas marketers feel they are underserved. Operators were asked candid questions about their most effective in-store strategies and the suppliers’ role in supporting them, which suppliers were making store visits and how often, and which suppliers offered the best retail solutions to fit their needs.
Aside from listing the top suppliers in dozens of categories and subcategories,here’s what the study found:
- Convenience stores remain, and will continue to remain for the foreseeablefuture, an important stop for the nation’s consumers for daily consumableitems. The industry represents “a powerful sales opportunity for suppliers’products and services.”
- Retailers need to do a better job of marketing inside the store and notwalk away from the “convenience” aspect of the business.
Now that supermarkets and hypermarts are increasing fuel operations, it ismore important than ever for c-stores to retain their speed of service nicheby becoming better in-store marketers, the study said. And they are going toneed support from the many suppliers honored in this report to achieve theirNo. 1 objective of driving new business.
Focus on operations
While this study honors the top suppliers,information gleaned from the retailer community indicated that store operators”are not receiving information on new products and promotions on a timely basis,”the study found. “So while suppliers have improved, there is still work to bedone in the supplier community.”
Supporting retailers’ day-to-day needs is very much a mutually beneficial process.Chains equipped to sell more items generate higher profits for themselves andtheir supplier partners. Yet the study revealed that in most product categories,”the convenience store industry was still undecided when it comes to which suppliersoffer the best programs and services. Great opportunities exist for all.”
In the few cases where manufacturersand distributors achieved “preferred supplier”level, the suppliers were found to have demonstrated a higher level of corporatesales calls and store visits. “These suppliers have demonstrated a clear understandingof convenience store customers’ special needs through their services, merchandising,package size, promotional support, distribution and proven sales demand,” thestudy said.
The bottom line is retailers are looking for partners that answer their needsand have innovative and profitable new ideas in this very competitive industry.
To get their products and service more prominently displayed in conveniencestores, suppliers should be reaching out to key decision-makers at both theretail level and company headquarters. Category managers have enormous influencewith company presidents, marketing directors and small chain owners when itcomes to stocking the shelves, but they are often overlooked in the promotionalprocess.
Consider that just 42 companies operate 52,600 stores and another 122 companiesoperate 10,194 stores, and you quickly realize that enormous buying decisionsare carried out by relatively few people. Overlooking any of them could leadto a significant amount of lost business.
Four Seasons Triangle Inc.
Cumberland Farms Inc.
Danny & Clydes Food Store
Deli-Wagon Food Service
HKH Quick Stops
Appco Convenience Stores
Dixie Oil Co. of AL Inc.
Herndon Oil Corp.
Dodge Stores & Saving Station
Holt Oil Company
Bountryland Quick Stops
Double Quick Inc.
Homboldt Petroleum Inc.
Brookshire Grocery Co.
E. J. Pope & Son Handy Mart
Buffalo Services Inc.
Englefield Oil Company
Hudson Food Stores Inc.
Buzz Buy Convenience Stores
Enmark Stations Inc.
Inter City Oil Co. Inc.
Calfee Co. of Dalton Inc.
Fast Petroleum Company Inc.
|Island Food Stores|
Fast Track Inc.
Jay Petroleum Inc.
Cougar Oil Inc.
K & E Convenience Store
Crown Central Petroleum
Fishos Oil Co.
Krist Oil Co.
|Total c-store units:||138,205|
|In-store sales:||$132.1 billion|
|Gasoline sales:||$262.6 billion|
|Total annual sales:||$394.7 billion|
|Stores selling gasoline:||110,840|
|Percentage of stores with pay-at-the-pump:||95.2%|
|In-store sales per location:||$919,203|
|*Source: 2004 National Association of Convenience Stores 2004Industry Report|
|Kum & Go||West Des Moines||IA||Quick Check Food Stores||Whitehouse||NJ||Super Quick Inc.||Flatwoods||KY|
|Kwik Trip Inc.||La Crosse||IW||Quick Stop Market Inc.||Fremont||CA||The Spencer Companies Inc.||Huntsville||AL|
|Loma Catalina Company||Tucson||AZ||R & C Petroleum||North Platte||NE||Tooley Oil Company||Sacramento||CA|
|Major Brand Gasoline||Austin||TX||Racetrac Petroleum Inc.||Smyrna||GA||Tops Markets LLC||Buffalo||NY|
|Miller Oil Company||Norfolk||VA||Ranger Enterprises Inc.||Stillman Valley||IL||Town & Country Food Stores Inc.||San Angelo||TX|
|Minit Stop Maui||Kahului||HI||Riiser Oil Co.||Wausau||WI||Town Pumps Inc.||Butte||MT|
|Nexcom||Virginia Beach||VA||SSP Circle K||Corpus Christi||TX||Transglobal Gas & Oil Co.||Knoxville||TN|
|Nice-n-Easy Grocery Shoppes||Canastota||NY||Save More Inc.||Pelzer||SC||Traxx Companies||Lexingon||KY|
|North Federal Heights Texaco||Aurora||CO||Scaff’s Inc.||Lake City||FL||United Refining Co.||Warren||PA|
|Parker Oil Co.||South Hill||VA||Shaws Gulf Inc.||Stillwater||OK||Valero Energy Corp – Dallas||Dallas||TX|
|Petro Stopping Centers||EL Paso||TX||Sheetz Inc.||Altoona||PA||Wallis Oil Co. Inc.||Cuba||MO|
|Piedmont Petroleum Corp.||Greenville||SC||Shell Oil Products US||Houston||TX||Walters-Dimmick Petroleum||Marshall||MI|
|Primar Petroleum Inc.||St. Joseph||MI||Skinnys Inc.||Abilene||TX||Wawa Inc.||Wawa||PA|
|Pugh Oil Co. Inc.||Asheboro||NC||Sodexho||Troy||NY||Winnsboro Petroleum||Winnsboro||SC|
|Pump N. Pantr Convenience Stores||Montrose||PA||Southwest Convenience Stores||Odessa||TX||Xtra Mart (Kenyon Oil Co.)||North Grosvenord||CT|