Sam Anderson operates in one of the most competitivemarkets in the country. Rather than fret about thedaunting task of outselling the likes of Sheetz, Wawa and GetGo, he is focused on utilizing the tools at his disposalto put Pump n Pantry in a position to trump the competition.
Anderson, vice president of store operations for the 16-unitchain in Montrose, Pa., credits McLane Co. Inc., for providing some of those tools. “McLane is so large and experiencedthat I have complete trust their buyers and market peopleknow what fits well in our c-stores and what doesn’t,” he said.
Specifically, Anderson availshimself to McLane’s PurchaseReports Analyzer (Mpulse), an online reporting system that gives retailers the ability to view and analyze their purchase history on a store-by-store basis. Reportscan be broken down by date and category or manipulated in a host of waysto generate specific sales trend analysison a needed basis.
Mpulse helps the chain determine which items to test, keep on the shelves or pull from storesbecause it also tracks product movement, allowing categorymanagers to monitor sales in real time.
“With Mpulse, we can take a look at the top five or 10items in a category and see where, when and how often merchandise is selling, and see how those products stand overallin the marketplace,” Anderson said. “This is especially crucialwhen it comes to evaluating new products. With shelf spacebeing so valuable, we can’t afford to have products that don’tmove taking up prime real estate.”
Plus, McLane supports its customers by offering virtualtrade shows and a national trade show, which will next beheld in Las Vegas in March 2007. The shows feature dozensof new and seasonal products, promotional opportunities andthe value-added programs. They also give retailers an opportunity to meet McLane personnel, supplier representativesand other retailers to gain a better perspective of the changestaking place in the convenience channel.
“We use these shows to find out what’s new in the industry and to get a heads up on products coming down the pike,”Anderson said. “A lot of our new products come directly from these shows or my personal contact with McLane reps.”
Because of McLane, Pump n Pantry was also the first independent chain in the Northeast to test the distributor’s SmartHandheld device, which helps store managers track inventory, get an instant 13-week sales history of any in-store SKU,get distribution updates, suggested SKU orders based on saleshistory and it even prints labels.
“Because of the handheld we no longer have to carry a bigbook around the store,” Anderson said. “But perhaps themost important feature is that the device sends out alertsreminding managers when a product needs to be ordered tokeep us from running out of stock.”
Pump n Pantry has been partnered with McLane for 12years and Anderson expectsthe relationship to last a longtime. “Every time the contractneeds to be renewed, I reviewfour wholesalers based onthree qualities: technology,personal support and price,”he said. “McLane comes outthe best every time.”
Like Pump n Pantry, Taylor Petroleum credits McLane’scommitment to technology and new products for its strongsales growth.
Greg Hendricks, vice president of operations and purchasing for Taylor Petroleum operates 68 stores in Texas,Okalahoma and Kansas. Driving operations at the Amarillo,Texas-based chain is its new partnership with McLane. Thisburgeoning relationship has also afforded Taylor the opportunity to get a handle on out of stocks by also using McLane’sSmart Handheld.
“Talk to anybody in the industry and they know if theycan just keep their stores in stock, sales would grow 12%,”Hendricks said. “It’s a tough weight to put on a new storemanager when they ask what we expect of them, and we simply tell them to keep all the merchandise in stock. It’s hard fora new employee to grasp, but it’s so important. And we’reworking to give them the tools. This Smart Handheld is user-friendly part of McLane’s plan to arm managers with the toolsthey need to ensure stores are always stocked.”