Technology Driving Safety and Cash Management

Safeguarding c-stores and the people and property in and around them is getting easier and more economical thanks largely to incremental advances in a variety of technologies. Among them: safes that do more, software systems that communicate better and electronic eyes that see more. Theft and mayhem of all types, from gas pump drive-offs and

Hot Dispensed Beverages: Consumers on the Prowl for Premium

The days of battery acid brewing in a pot on a hot plate are long over, and c-store coffee programs will be hard-pressed to win drinkers these days without recognizing that consumers are on the prowl for premium coffees at palatable prices. A shortage of minutes and money among consumers nationwide is driving demand for

No Mystery Here: Speedway Voted Best Customer Service

It’s impossible to know if the pool of customers hired by market research firm Corporate Research International (CRI) would have pegged Speedway SuperAmerica LLC as the leader in customer service five years ago. The Enon, Ohio-based marketer wasn’t even among the handful of convenience store chains whose customer service was evaluated quarterly by the research

ROI: Return on Involvement

To the lay observer, it was just a Styrofoam cup jammed between the windshield and dashboard of a working man’s pickup parked outside an Indiana convenience store. To Jay Ricker, it was testament to the importance of mastering the fundamentals, concrete proof that having a good thing means knowing when you should or shouldn’t mess

Secure Your System

MasterCard announces that more than 40 million credit card numbers belonging to U.S. consumers have been accessed by a computer hacker and are at risk of being used for fraud; however, company officials can’t say how long the confidential information has been missing. A disgruntled technology employee cracks his former company’s computer system and destroys

Sweet Deliverance

Caffeine-infused potato chips. Ginseng-infused coffee. Guarana-infused gum. No matter the combination, functional food manufacturers are probably trying it. Add this one to the list: Sedative-infused chocolates. The confectionary world is on its way to proving the salability of health and energy products doesn’t have to end at the threshold of the candy aisle. In the

Moving Over to the Dark Side

Chocolate may be bringing up the rear of America’s upscale revolution, but consumers and a growing number of c-store operators aren’t complaining. Higher-priced, better quality chocolates are finding acceptance on more store shelves all the time–great for consumers and great for operators’ bottom lines. Resistance to the higher price points will fade in time as

Driving the Dairy Business

Convenience store operators nationwide are grappling with nearly unprecedented food inflation, particularly involving bakery and dairy products, that is sending tremors throughout the retail supply chain. Recent price volatility fueled by a weak dollar, rising energy costs, consumer wariness, competitive pressure and other factors is making it difficult to market staples like bakery and dairy

Is Bulk Candy Marketing Right for You?

While single packs of gum and candy get the most attention in the candy aisle, retailers often report strong margins from bulk packages and multi packs, which carry a higher price and typically offer a greater value for consumers. But will that greater value translate into consistently stronger sales? The answer appears to be yes…sometimes,

Where to Find the Best Hourly Employees

You might be surprised to learn that the best source of new employees in convenience retailing has changed very little over the past 25 years. The number one best source of great employees still is and always has been referrals—people you already know or who your employees know. In surveys we conducted between Feb. 2007

Bring Trust and Loyalty Back to the Workplace

Once upon a time in corporate America people actually liked going to work every day. They enjoyed the camaraderie of their co-workers, and they truly believed their work was making a difference, not only in the organization, but also in the world. Likewise, the company took care of its people, listened to them, and provided

Changing the Channel

Maybe it’s all headed toward a day of total convergence, when the lines separating one industry from the next will be irreversibly blurred. Consider the freewheeling dynamics of retailing in the past few years: McDonald’s has been offering DVD rentals by way of in-store kiosks. Blockbuster stores have begun offering c-store fare such as fountain

What’s in a Name?

The question Jim Dodrill grappled with last summer: What’s in a name? A partner at Pennsylvania-based LMA Architects, Dodrill had been approached by Consumers Petroleum of Trumbull, Conn. to help create a corporate brand for the company’s dozen or more convenience stores in Connecticut. Consumers Petroleum had acquired a handful of existing convenience stores in

Consumers Crunch Their Coins

A portrait of 1 in 2 American consumers at the dawn of 2008: cash-strapped, bargain-hungry and fuel-fatigued. So says research by The Nielsen Co., where 49% of U.S. consumers surveyed said they were slicing spending to compensate for rising gas prices. The high price of regular gas in December 2007 was $3.06 per gallon, and

Retailers Salute Their Leading Suppliers

Despite the much-ballyhooed growth of chains like Walgreens, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Wal-Mart, it is convenience stores that remain an important daily stop for the nation’s busy consumers. As a result, convenience stores represent a powerful sales opportunity for product and service supplier companies, CSD set out to find the industry’s top performers as identified

RFID: Not Ready For Prime Time

A radio frequency identification (RFID) tag is like a barcode on steroids. A barcode printed on a cracker box may indicate that the box contains crackers and possibly identify the manufacturer, while an RFID tag carries a serial number that distinguishes that particular box of crackers from all others in the world. Although some companies

Empowering Customers

Self-Service Gift Cards Paul Burel, director of marketing strategy for U-Scan, Fujitsu’s self-checkout line, said gift cards are a good option for c-store operators “because it’s convenient. It’s the kind of point-of-presence transaction to generate that last-minute gift that someone needs to get.” Going with a self-service gift card program is “really not an add-on,”

Embracing the Kiosk Revolution

Foodservice Kiosk Usage Grows In addition to the large chains like Sheetz and Wawa that have been using self-service kiosks for many years, smaller chains are also enjoying the benefits of self-serve technology. • High’s of Baltimore Inc. reached a deal with Radiant Systems last July to deploy multiple Radiant customer self-service kiosks in more

Finding the Right Foodservice Program

With gas margins in the gutter and operating costs nearly doubling over the past five years, the 35% margin foodservice offers has been a savior of sorts for Mike Harrell, president of Jernigan Oil Co. Inc., a fourth-generation marketer in Ahoskie, N.C. that operates 25 Duck Thru convenience stores. It doesn’t help that North Carolina,

Coffee’s Hotter Than Ever

Data released by the National Coffee Association shows the market penetration for coffee has surpassed that of soft drinks, reversing a 20-year pattern. Fifty-seven percent of American adults drink coffee daily versus 51% for soft drinks. Coffee drinking among 18-24 year-olds also jumped 6%, the fourth year in a row for such an increase. Given

Clearing a Crowded Cold Vault

Energy drinks and isotonics are following two increasingly divergent paths, just part of the fast-paced beverage category about which convenience store operators are spending more time planning than ever before. The crazy-quilt influx of new brands, products, line extensions, flavors and varieties is jamming cooler doors and sales floors, and calling for some hard choices.

Tax Debate Swarms Bottled Water

It’s back to the barricades once again for the convenience store industry, which—as in the past—is being targeted by environmental special interest groups and revenue-hungry legislators. This time they’re focusing on bottled water containers. Bottled water remains a tremendously popular and trendy product category, which is just what attracted the attention of these two groups

Strong Sales for Candy

Overall retail sales are slowing at mass, dollar and grocery stores, but confectionery sales remain strong for convenience operators. The U.S. retail confectionery category generated approximately $29 billion in sales in 2007 and the profit margin for the category was approximately 35%, according to the National Confectioners Association’s (NCA) U.S. Confectionery Market report released last

Getting Back to Beer

America’s changing demographic will continue to add new contours to the beer category, and that has some operators optimistic that beer could experience strong spring and summer selling seasons. The major breweries are expected to introduce products that target health-conscious consumers. For example, SABMiller this month will begin test-marketing its Miller Lite Brewers Collection, consisting

Building a Solid Foundation

The most extraordinary structure is only as strong as it’s weakest link. The same principle applies in business. The higher up the leadership chain that weakness exists the more likely the organization is to crumble. That’s why the companies that are succeeding in the market these days are controlled by innovators that aren’t afraid to

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