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VIEWPOINT By Don Longo, Editorial Director
The Urgency Was Real NACS Show 2014 had a more than business-as-usual air to it
he convenience store industry descended upon Las Vegas last month for the 2014 NACS Show and while the NACS Show always offers scores of educational and networking opportunities, it seemed retailers came to this year’s event with an added urgency. Maybe it was because they were feeling more optimistic and wanted to capitalize on positive business and weather conditions. Fuel prices have been declining in recent months, giving many retailers an opportunity to benefit from slightly higher margins. Or maybe it’s the spate of merger and acquisition activity that has everyone on edge. Or perhaps they felt pressure to improve their in-store sales, which were up only 2.3 percent through the first half of this year (see Convenience Store News’ Mid-Year Report Card, October 2014 issue). Whatever the reason, retailers appeared to be more focused than ever in their hunt for the new products, new programs, new ideas and new contacts that will drive their success in the coming year. And there were more retailers in attendance at the NACS Show — a 6.1-percent increase in attendees overall, according to NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing. From educational seminars that provided tips on how c-stores can manage and reduce excess inventory; to ideas on how to improve sales, margins and labor efficiencies; to learning strategies to control foodservice spoilage, retailers took aim at the information they felt would help them grow their business (see our CSNews has been recognized with more editorial awards, including the prestigious Jesse H. Neal Award for business journalism, in the past six years than any other industry publication. 2013 Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award Best Single Issue, October 2012 2013 Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award Finalist, Best Profile, August 2012 2008 Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award Best Single Issue, October 2007
NACS Show recap starting on page 82). Among the specific things retailers told us they were on the hunt for were: • The next great technology; • New products; • More foodservice options; • New fuel dispensers; • New payment systems; and • More information about alternative fuels. This year marked the 18th year of CSNews’ Best New Products Awards, and we honored 20 winners on the show floor. This year’s product winners are profiled, along with our 2014 Store Design Contest winners and Foodservice Innovators in this issue’s cover story (page 29). Also at the NACS Show, 30 of the most outstanding female leaders in the For comments, please contact convenience store industry, Don Longo, Editorial Director, including five Women of the at (201) 855-7606 or Year, were honored at the inau- email@example.com. gural CSNews Top Women in Convenience awards breakfast. (For more on the program, see page 14.) If you attended this year’s NACS Show, I hope your hunt was successful. If you didn’t have the opportunity to attend, be sure to check out our NACS Show recap in this issue, or go online to www.csnews.com. CSN
2013 Eddie Award Honorable Mention, Folio: magazine Business to Business, Retail, Full Issue, October 2012 2011 Silver Eddie Award, Folio: magazine Business to Business, Retail, Full Issue, October 2010 2011 Silver Eddie Award, Folio: magazine Business to Business, Retail, Best Single Article, October 2010 2009 Gold Ozzie Award, Folio: magazine Best Use of Illustration, October 2008 2009 Silver Eddie Award, Folio: magazine Business to Business, Retail, Full Issue, October 2008 2009 Bronze Eddie Award, Folio: magazine Business to Business, Retail, Website 2007 Silver Ozzie Award, Folio: magazine Best Use of Typography, November 2006
2013 American Society of Business Publication Editors, Midwest Regional Bronze Azbee Award Best Editorial/Commentary, July 2012 2010 American Society of Business Publication Editors, Northeast Regional Silver Azbee Award Feature Article Design, November 2010 2010 Trade Association Business Publications Intl. Tabbie Awards Honorable Mention, Front Cover Illustration, October 2009 2009 Trade Association Business Publications Intl. Tabbie Awards Gold, Front Cover Illustration, February 2008 Honorable Mention, Best Single Issue, October 2008
WWW.CSNEWS.COM | NOVEMBER 2014 | Convenience Store News 3
CONTENTS NOVEMBER 2014
VOLUME 50/NUMBER 11
29 | COVER STORY The Best of the Best
Convenience Store News honors excellence in c-store design, foodservice and new product innovation.
30 | The Best in Store Design This year’s winning store concepts set the bar on what convenience means. 56 | The Best in Convenience Foodservice Maverik takes the gold in 2014 Foodservice Innovators Awards. 66 | The Best in New Products CSNews’ 18th annual awards honor 20 products of the year.
HOW TO DO WORLD-CLASS FOODSERVICE 76 | Best Practices in Foodservice Safety & Sanitation Operators must focus on cleanliness at every level of the store, not just the kitchen. 76 | Call to Action: Foodservice 101 78 | Call to Action: Foodservice 201 80 | Call to Action: Foodservice 301 Convenience Store News (ISSN 0194-8733; USPS 515-950) is published 12 times per year, monthly, by Stagnito Business Information, 570 Lake Cook Rd. Deerfield, IL 60015. Copyright © 2014 by Stagnito Business Information. All rights reserved. Subscriptions: One year, $93; two years, $152. One year, Canada, $110; two years, Canada, $175. One year, foreign, $150. Payable in advance with a bank draft drawn on a U.S. bank in U.S. funds. Single copies, $10, except foreign, where postage will be added. Printed in U.S.A. Periodicals postage paid at Deerfield, IL, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Convenience Store News, P.O. Box 1842, Lowell, MA 01853.
4 Convenience Store News | NOVEMBER 2014 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM
REFRESH THE HOME CROWD COORS LIGHT AND COKE TEAM UP FOR THE BIGGEST GAME OF THE YEAR This powerful brand partnership can
increase basket ring 70% when sold together *
* Versus Coors Light Multipacks beer only. Combined PBM transactions 2010-2013 (Thornton’s, Circle K (Gulf Coast and FL), Kangaroo Express)
©2014 COORS BREWING COMPANY, GOLDEN, CO
©2014 The Coca-Cola Company The “Home Bowl” is not associated with or authorized by the National Football League.
CONTENTS 111 Town Square Place, Suite 400, Jersey City, NJ 07310 (201) 855-7600 Fax: (201) 855-7373 www.csnews.com
BRAND MANAGEMENT Group Brand Director (201) 855-7610
Michael Hatherill firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITORIAL Editorial Director (201) 855-7606 Editor-in-Chief (201) 855-7608 Managing Editor (201) 855-7614 Senior Editor (201) 855-7618 Field Editor (201) 855-7619 Contributing Editor (303) 741-3377 Contributing Editor (201) 280-2614 Art Director (224) 632-8245 Director of Market Research (201) 855-7605
82 FEATURES NACS SHOW RECAP
82 | Taking Out the Garbage NACS Show 2014 kicks off multifaceted plan to improve industry’s reputation.
INDUSTRY ROUNDUP 14 | Celebrating the Industry’s Female Leaders
Don Longo email@example.com Linda Lisanti firstname.lastname@example.org Brian Berk email@example.com Melissa Kress firstname.lastname@example.org Angela Hanson email@example.com Renée M. Covino firstname.lastname@example.org Tammy Mastroberte email@example.com Michael Escobedo firstname.lastname@example.org Debra Chanil email@example.com
MARKETING & PROMOTION Audience Development Manager Shelly Patton (646) 217-1045 firstname.lastname@example.org List Rental The Information Refinery (800) 529-9020 Brian Clotworthy Reprints and Licensing Wright’s Media (877) 652-5295 email@example.com Subscriber Services/Single-Copy Purchases (978) 671-0449 Stagnito@e-circ.net
18 | Eye on Growth 20 | Retailer Tidbits 23 | Supplier Tidbits 23 | In Memoriam
3 | The Urgency Was Real NACS Show 2014 had a more than business-as-usual air to it. 10 | CSNews Online
President & CEO Harry Stagnito Chief Information Officer Kollin Stagnito Vice President & CFO Kyle Stagnito Senior Vice President, Partner Ned Bardic Chief Brand Officer Korry Stagnito Vice President/Custom Media Division Pierce Hollingsworth (224) 632-8229 firstname.lastname@example.org Production Manager Anngail Norris Human Resources Manager Sandy Berndt Strategic Marketing Director Bruce Hendrickson (224) 632-8214 email@example.com Vice President, Events John Failla (914) 574-5709 firstname.lastname@example.org Director, Conferences & eLearning Amy Walsh (781) 856-8381 email@example.com Director of Digital Media John Callanan (203) 295-7058 firstname.lastname@example.org
CONVENIENCE STORE NEWS AFFILIATIONS
24 | New Products
Premier Trade Press Exhibitor
EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Edward Davidson ER Davidson & Associates (7-Eleven Inc., retired) Kyle McKeen Alon Brands Inc.
14 6 Convenience Store News | NOVEMBER 2014 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM
Richard Mione GPM Southeast Rick Crawford Green Valley Grocery
Ian Johnstone Cenex Zip Trip
Matt Paduano Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes
Jon Urbanik CST Brands Inc.
Jonathan Polonsky Plaid Pantries Inc.
Roy Strasburger Convenience Management Services Inc. Joe Hamza Tedeschi Food Shops Jack Lewis Village Pantry LLC
The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the consent of the publisher. The publisher is not responsible for product claims and representations.
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CSNEWS.COM TOP 5 Daily News Headlines
The most viewed articles online. 1 | 7-Eleven Franchisees Plead Guilty to Exploiting Illegal Immigrants Five people pleaded guilty to exploiting undocumented immigrant workers more than a year after a federal probe into alleged illegal immigration-related activities resulted in the seizure of several 7-Eleven convenience stores in Long Island and Virginia. Prosecutors said the defendants hired illegal immigrants and used stolen identification to cheat the workers out of more than $2.6 million in wages. 2 | Speedway Takes Ownership of Hess Retail Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s Speedway LLC subsidiary closed on its purchase of Hess’ retail operations on Sept. 30. The $2.82-billion transaction included a $2.37-billion base purchase price, capital leases that were cash settled at closing for $263 million, and $194 million of estimated working capital. 3 | Susser Heads West With Aloha Petroleum Buy Susser Petroleum Partners LP is on the move with its acquisition of Aloha Petroleum Ltd. for a base purchase price of approximately $240 million. “Hawaii is a great new market for us with an economy that has grown faster than the overall U.S. economy in the last few years,” stated Bob Owens, Susser Petroleum Partners CEO. 4 | Ex-Pilot Flying J President Receives Target Letter Pilot Flying J’s former president is the target of a federal investigation linked to allegations of fraud in the company’s fuel rebate program. In early August, Mark Hazelwood received a target letter, the official form federal prosecutors send to let an individual know they are the target of an investigation.
5 | Hannasch Officially Takes the Reins at Couche-Tard Brian Hannasch formally accepted the role of president and CEO of Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. during the company’s Sept. 24 annual shareholders meeting. He replaces founder Alain Bouchard, who is now executive chairman of the board.
Would you be interested in selling marijuana if it were legalized in your state?
Convenient Convenience Drives Convergence
Five years ago, many leading convenience store operators were worried about other c-stores stealing their ideas. Then, they began to think they should only worry about the day when they stop stealing ideas. Well, that day may have arrived. The current convenience store business model is under attack and c-store operators cannot rest on their laurels. For more exclusive stories, visit the Special Features section of www.csnews.com.
PRODUCT HIGHLIGHT The most viewed New Product online.
Hair Clog Remover Tool
The Instant Power Drain Snake Hair Clog Remover Tool is a chemical-free alternative to remove clogs fast. The product features an 18-inch flexible wand with dozens of “teeth” that grab hair, food, garbage and other obstructions out of a clogged drain. The tool is quick and easy to use — simply insert and remove from the drain without the use of any chemicals, the maker stated. Scotch Corp. Dallas (800) 613-4242 www.scotchcorp.com
10 Convenience Store News | NOVEMBER 2014 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM
INDUSTRYROUNDUP FAST FACT
Celebrating the Industry’s Female Leaders Convenience Store News’ Top Women in Convenience awards breakfast honors 30
Food safety and sanitation is about the approach operators take toward cleanliness at all levels of the organization and in all areas of the store; not just the kitchen or areas visible to customers. Source: Convenience Store News How To Crew (page 76)
“We are making this a better world and it’s a great story to tell. Tell your story, walk the talk and be proud of what our industry does.” — NACS President & CEO Hank Armour (page 82)
By Linda Lisanti
hirty of the most outstanding female leaders in the convenience store industry, including five Women of the Year, were honored last month at the inaugural Convenience Store News Top Women in Convenience awards breakfast, held during the 2014 NACS Show. Sponsored by Fifteen senior-level executives were among those honored. Kraft and Altria Group Kim Lubel, president and CEO of CST Distribution Co., and presented in partnerBrands Inc.; Gwen Forman, vice president ship with the Network of Executive Women of marketing at Cumberland Farms Inc.; (NEW), the event was the first of its kind Allison Moran, CEO of RaceTrac Petroleum for the c-store industry. Inc.; Barbara Poremba, vice president, “The CSNews Top Women in national retail sales for the Foodservice in Convenience awards program was created Retail Center of Excellence at Coca-Cola to recognize a diverse array of women from Refreshments; and Jennifer Rhoads, president both the retailer and supplier sides of the and CEO of the Ohio Petroleum Marketers industry,” explained Don Longo, edito& Convenience Store Association. rial director of Convenience Store News, a Upon accepting her award, Poremba said Stagnito Business Information brand. Winners were announced in the June issue she is proud to be among those recognized and she believes in paying it forward for the of CSNews magazine, but the event took women coming up in the industry behind her. the recognition a step further, inviting all the Rhoads expressed a similar sentiment, honorees to gather and accept their awards adding: “All of you are who inspire me.” and accolades in front of their peers and colThe senior-level executives honored were: leagues. In addition to the five Women of • Angela Angelilli, executive vice presithe Year, honorees included 15 senior-level dent; Royal Buying Group executives (positions of vice president and • Mary Banmiller, retail operations direcabove), eight rising stars (job titles above tor; Warrenton Oil Co. store manager, but below vice president) and • Paula Conti, vice president of customer two store managers. service; PDI Lauded as Women of the Year were
14 Convenience Store News | NOVEMBER 2014 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM
Brownie Brittle wins
2014 Best New Sweet Snack Thank you to our fans and to the convenience store industry. “Luscious favor and amazing crunch are key components to a satisfying snack. With Brownie Brittle, you get both. Te 2-ounce size comes in Chocolate Chip, Salted Caramel and Tofee Crunch varieties. Our testers were excited with the ‘edge-of-the brownie’ crispiness and the 120-calorie-per-serving bites.” – Convenience Store News
“I’m honored and grateful to have our products recognized - we never take our success for granted. Tank you!” – Sheila G. Mains CEO & Founder
©2014, Brownie Brittle, LLC. All rights reserved.
Women of the Year honorees included (from left): Kim Lubel, CST Brands Inc.; Jennifer Rhoads, Ohio Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association; and Barbara Poremba, Coca-Cola Refreshments.
• Lucia Romenello Crater, director of sales, convenience; KIND Healthy Snacks • Susan Curry, vice president of operations; XYIENCE • Sonja Hubbard, CEO; E-Z Mart Stores Inc. • Jennie Jones, vice president of marketing; S&D Coffee & Tea • Kris Kingsbury, marketing and merchandising manager; Robinson Oil Co. • Amy Lane, chief operating officer; The Parker Cos. • Lori Lunt, division manager; Alliance Energy LLC • Wendy Redmond, director of sales; S&D Coffee & Tea • Debbie Robins, CEO and president; Century Distributors • Yvette Spears, vice president, national retail sales; Coca-Cola North America • Mary Szarmach, vice president, trade marketing and government relations; Smoker Friendly International • Kathy Williams, vice president, national sales; Coca-Cola North America The rising star honorees were: • Jeannie Amerson, advertising and loyalty manager; Flash Foods Inc. • Brittany Bayley-Murray, buyer and category
manager; Martin & Bayley • Madalena Ferreira, director of convenience store operations; Bobby & Steve’s Auto World • Tanja Gassenmaier, district manager; The Parker Cos. • Carly Goebel, category buyer; GetGo and Giant Eagle Express • Jedy Majovsky, merchandising specialist; GetGo • Cecilia Ottenweller, c-store specialist and district leader; GetGo • Mila Spencer, benefits manager; Kwik Trip Inc. Store managers Diane Hank of L&P Convenient Store in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., and Jan Phipps of Autumn Grove Tiger Mart/Subway in Salisbury, Md., were recognized as well. “These awards are very special to me — and in many ways, long overdue,” remarked Reagan Lund, national development manager for NEW. When the organization was founded just 13 years ago, she recalled how women’s leadership was “an HR issue; a box to check.” Today, though, women’s leadership is “recognized for what it is: a competitive advantage and a business imperative,” Lund said, pointing to NEW’s 8,500-plus members representing 750 companies. “We’ve made some improvement, but there is still a lot of work to do.” The Top Women in Convenience program was open to convenience store industry retailers, suppliers and wholesalers. Honorees were selected from nominations by industry executives. Candidates were judged based on their achievements during the past 12 months in areas such as corporate initiatives, financial and strategic accomplishments, problemsolving acumen and charitable participation. CSN Thank you to our sponsors
One of the five Women of the Year, RaceTrac Petroleum CEO Allison Moran, is flanked by NEW’s Reagan Lund (left) and Kraft’s Beth Jarocki.
16 Convenience Store News | NOVEMBER 2014 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM
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acquisition of the membership interests of Lehigh Gas GP LLC, the general partner of Lehigh Gas Partners LP, for approximately $85 million. Lehigh Gas Partners LP also changed its name to CrossAmerica Partners LP, effective Oct. 1. n The Kroger Co. opened its
2,000th fuel center location in September. New locations in
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Carolina with five new stores. The Savannah, Ga.-based retailer is opening one new location in Hilton Head Island, Leesville and Wagener, and two new locations in Aiken. n Gulf Oil LP brought
the Gulf brand back to Alabama through a deal with Bumpers Oil Co. LLC, which converted two gas stations in Jackson and one in Grove Hill to the brand. Plans are in place to raise the Gulf flag at as many as six additional sites in Alabama in the months ahead. n SavOn Convenience Stores opened
Virginia, Georgia and Kentucky brought the retailer to this milestone. Kroger now operates 1,275 supermarket fuel centers and 725 convenience stores with fuel.
its first new store in 10 years in September. The 2,000-square-foot store is in Chittenango, N.Y. SavOn
n Global Partners LP’s Global
Montello Group Corp. subsidiary entered into a definitive agreement to acquire 100 percent of the equity interest in Warren Equities Inc. for approximately $383 million.
Convenience Stores is an enterprise of the Oneida Indian Nation.
n Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.
rebranded 55 Super Pantry stores as Circle K locations. Couche-Tard acquired the locations from Tri Star Marketing in July. The stores will now operate as part of CoucheTard’s Midwest Division.
n MFA Oil Co. purchased Home
Service Oil Co., Home Service Propane Gas LLC and All Propane. These acquisitions will add to MFA’s refined fuel and propane offerings. Terms of the transactions were not disclosed.
n Canada’s Parkland Fuel Corp.
is buying the assets of Pioneer Energy for $378 million. With the deal, Parkland added 319 gas stations in Ontario and 74 gas stations in Manitoba. F1100 | ©2014 Nu Mark LLC. For Trade purposes . MarkTen, FourDraw and related design marks are trademarks of Nu Mark LLC.
n Enmark Stations Inc. is build-
ing up its presence in South
18 Convenience Store News | NOVEMBER 2014 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM
n Buchanan Energy LLC closed on a
five-year credit facility from Citizens Commercial Banking’s Convenience and Retail Fuel Finance Group. It includes a development line of credit that will be used to finance the development and/or acquisition of new locations.
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retailer tidbits n Thorntons Inc. will spend approxi-
mately $700,000 to overhaul each of its 178 stores in Kentucky, Ohio,
n Rutter’s Farm Stores expanded its
foodservice menu with the increasingly popular sriracha hot sauce and the classic American fare of corn dog bites. n Sheetz Inc. is eyeing a November
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Indiana, Tennessee, Florida and Illinois over the next five years. It takes four to six weeks to remodel and the store remains open for all but two of those weeks.
completion date for its new $32.8-million distribution center in Burlington, N.C. Training in the facility was slated to begin Oct. 13 and the first truck ships from the facility Dec. 9. n Delek US Holdings Inc. is look-
n VP Racing Fuels introduced
Winner’s Circle, a new convenience store brand, at the 2014 NACS Show. The core of
ing to relocate its headquarters but stay in Tennessee. The parent company of MAPCO Express has outgrown its current 56,000-square-foot location in Brentwood, Tenn. n QuickChek Corp. is installing
the new backcourt brand reflects VP’s racing heritage.
backup power solutions at 19 locations in New Jersey as part
n CST Brands Inc. is receiving near-
ly $1.5 million in incentives from the San Antonio City Council to build its new headquarters in the far north side of the city. n Gulf Oil LP launched a Pink
Ribbon Gift Card as part of its Gulf Oil Giving Foundation. It’s expected to generate up to $25,000 a year to help fight breast cancer. n Murphy USA Inc. is teaming up
with the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association and the Iowa Corn Growers Association to host seven separate grand-opening events to promote its new E15 and E85 fuel offerings. BM109 | ©2014 Nu Mark LLC. For T . MarkTen and related design marks are trademarks of Nu Mark LLC.
20 Convenience Store News | NOVEMBER 2014 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM
of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s $7-million Retail Fuel Station Program. n Englefield Oil Co. joined with
ISG CNG Services to build a compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station at a Duchess Shoppe convenience store in Obetz, Ohio. This is the first Duchess station to offer CNG. n Pit Stop convenience stores now
offer the Virginia E-ZPass Reload Card. InComm and the Virginia Department of Transportation partnered to launch the card.
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supplier tidbits n Swisher International Inc. will
acquire Drew Estate Inc. in its entirety. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Drew Estate will continue to operate under its current management team as a subsidiary of Swisher. n The Kellogg Co. is re-establishing
its Kashi family of brands as a
ATM. As part of the deal, Welch ATM founder and CEO Jeff Hewitt joined the Cardtronics leadership team as an executive vice president. n Heineken USA
launched this year’s holiday retail and onpremise program on Nov. 1. The campaign’s tagline is: “Share the Heineken. Spark Your Holidays.” n LOGIC Technology
standalone natural foods business. It will be led by David Denholm, former president of U.S. Morning Foods, who rejoined The Kellogg Co. on Sept. 2 as Kashi Co. CEO. n The Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo
Inc., Dr Pepper Snapple Group and the American Beverage Association worked out a pact with The Alliance for a Healthier Generation to decrease beverage calories consumed per person nationally by 20 percent by 2025. n Cardtronics Inc. completed its
$160-million acquisition of Welch
Development LLC is expanding beyond electronic cigarettes and launching LOGIC PRO Advanced Vapor Systems. The e-vapor product made its official debut at the 2014 NACS Show. n Douglass Distributing entered
into a business relationship with Convenience Store Alliance (CSA). For the month of October, Douglass covered CSA’s $300-persite enrollment fee for all Douglass retailers who joined the alliance.
in memoriam Frank Bayley, co-founder of Huck’s Convenience Stores, passed away Oct. 18 at the age of 86. Bayley and his business partner Bob Martin (who died in March 1998) formed Carmi, Ill.-based Martin & Bayley Inc. in 1960, beginning by opening supermarkets in small southern Illinois towns and eventually branching out to Kentucky and Tennessee. They opened the first Huck’s convenience store in Grayville, Ill., in 1974. Today, the c-store chain operates 113 stores in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri. Bayley also developed the nonprofit organization Karing for Kids, and was a U.S. Army veteran of the Korean War.
WWW.CSNEWS.COM | NOVEMBER 2014 | Convenience Store News 23
NEWPRODUCTS Oscar Mayer Bacon Jerky
At a time when the average American is transitioning from eating full meals to snacking more throughout the day, the Oscar Mayer Institute for the Advancement of Bacon brings bacon lovers the chance to snack on bacon anytime in an easy, on-the-go bacon jerky pouch. Oscar Mayer Bacon Jerky is made of 100-percent real bacon, contains 11 grams of protein per serving and is available in two flavors: Bourbon Barbecue and Teriyaki Ginger. The product comes in 3-ounce, ready-to-eat packages.
Hostess Brands is expanding its breakfast portfolio with the Hostess Danish line. The new item will be available in four flavors: apple; berries and cheese; cheese; and chocolate. The suggested retail price is $1.89 for each individual single-serve pack. The Danish offering made its debut at the 2014 NACS Show and will be sold nationwide in convenience, grocery and mass retail outlets beginning in January.
Kraft Foods Group Inc. Northfield, Ill. (877) 535-5666 www.kraftfoodsgroup.com
Redesigned Riverside Cigarettes S&M Brands Inc. began distributing its redesigned Riverside cigarette brand to retailers. The product became available to consumers as of Oct. 15. S&M Brands recently received Substantial Equivalence orders from the Food and Drug Administration for the product. It is the first tobacco company to obtain approval of a full line of king and 100s in regular and menthol. S&M Brands Inc. Keysville, Va. (800) 766-5342 www.smbrands.com
Hostess Brands LLC Kansas City, Mo. (866) 270-4314 email@example.com www.hostessbrands.com
Kalibrate Cloud Kalibrate Cloud, a new software as a service (SaaS)based solution, provides fuel retailers with a gateway to faster, more confident decisions and execution, the developer stated. The cloud offering is anchored upon Kalibrate Technologies’ “7 Elements of Fuel Retail Success” and is being released in coordination with the company’s new Strategic Advisory Services group. Combined, the new brand identity reinforces Kalibrate’s “Your Adaptive Edge” differentiated value proposition. Kalibrate Technologies Florham Park, N.J. (800) 727-6774 www.kalibrate.com
Healthy Grab-and-Go Sandwiches Lifestyle Foods added seven new varieties of healthy grab-and-go sandwiches: Buffalo Grilled Chicken, Caesar Grilled Chicken, Malibu Turkey Avocado, New England Cranberry Turkey, Tuscan Ham with Tomato Pesto, Classic Ham & Cheese and Sedona Vegetarian Chick’n. Each sandwich is made with grain-topped, whole-wheat ciabatta bread and is paired with premium dressings. The sandwiches range from 270 to 360 calories, an average reduction in calories of 15 percent compared to the initial launch, in addition to overall reductions in sodium and cholesterol. Lifestyle Foods York, Pa. (877) 647-1878 www.lifestylefoods.com
24 Convenience Store News | NOVEMBER 2014 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM
great taste runs in the family ÂŽ
more choice equals more opportunity at CokeSolutions.com/retail ÂŠ 2014 The Coca-Cola Company
Other donuts just donut sell as well as ours. Little Debbie Donuts are the #1, #2, #3 and #4 selling donuts in C-stores. Our frosted, powdered, glazed and crunch varieties literally run circles around the competition. And with many top selling SKUs across the sweet baked goods category, Little Debbie drives sales for you around the clock. To learn more about all of our leading snacks, call (866) 483-4664 or visit LittleDebbieCStore.com. Nielsen ScanTrack, Convenience Stores, 4 weeks ending August 2, 2014, unit sales
The Best of the Best Convenience Store News honors excellence in c-store design, foodservice and new product innovation
ue to a coincidence in timing this year, Convenience Store News is announcing the winners of three of our most popular industry award competitions this month. In this special cover story package, we recognize the best new store designs, the best-in-class convenience foodservice retailers and the best new products introduced by vendors into the convenience store industry in 2014. Why do we need industry award programs? Since CSNews’ inception more than 40 years ago, we’ve recognized leading retailer companies (Top 100, Top 20 Growth Chains, Retailer Innovator of the Year, etc.) and leading retailer people (Hall of Fame, Retailer Executive of the Year, Top Tech Executive, etc.). Award programs do two things. First, they acknowledge outstanding achievement and give us all an opportunity to thank an individual or company for its contributions to the industry’s overall prosperity. Second, they stand as examples of the type of innovation and leadership we all can aspire to attain. Featured in this issue, CSNews’ Store Design
Contest showcases convenience stores in the United States and from around the globe that have differentiated themselves from the pack through design innovation and attentiveness to customer needs. Awards are presented to retailers and designers for Best Original Design, Best Interior Design, Best Low-Cost Remodel, Best Mid-Cost Remodel and Best Sky’s the Limit Remodel, as well as specialty categories. CSNews’ Foodservice Innovators Awards — presented in partnership with Tyson Foods — recognize convenience retailer leaders that are raising the bar on quality, service and innovation in the fast-growing and critically important foodservice category. Finally, the 18th annual CSNews Best New Products Awards, the original new products recognition program for the convenience store industry, puts the spotlight on 20 items launched in the past year that tap into the latest emerging consumer trends, from one-handed protein snacks to healthy “bites” meant for sharing. These award winners truly represent the best of the best in the convenience store industry.
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The Best in Store Design This year’s winning store concepts set the bar on what convenience means By Melissa Kress
veryone these days seems to want a piece of the “convenience” pie. Bigbox retailers are scaling down to small boxes that consumers can navigate more quickly and easily. Drugstores are adding fresh food and beverages to their traditional health and wellness mix. And grocery stores are increasingly offering online ordering with home delivery or at-store pickup. With competition coming from all angles, it’s more important than ever that convenience stores raise the bar on what “convenience” is and how it’s delivered to today’s harried shoppers. This means innovating in both store design and product offering on a continuous basis. The winners of this year’s Convenience Store News Store Design Contest do just that. From Champlain Oil’s Jiffy Mart store strategically built to serve customers in both New Hampshire and Vermont, to
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PDQ Food Stores’ newest location where the design philosophy was to “keep it simple” with an intuitive and fluid floor plan, these award-winning designs are original and modern. The CSNews design awards, now in their ninth year, honor convenience retailers that have created the most exciting, innovative and shopper-friendly looks for their stores. Entries are judged on innovation, creativity and the positive impact of the overall design on the business. Here, we highlight the winners and honorable mentions for Best Original Design (a new build), Best Interior Design (also a new build), Best Sky’s the Limit Remodel (more than $250,000), Best Mid-Budget Remodel ($100,000 to $250,000) and Best Low-Cost Remodel (less than $100,000). The winners and honorable mentions in specialty categories, such as Best Beer Cave, Best Cold Vault, Best Growler Station and Best Graphics, are also featured.
he Pantry Inc. considered two things when building its new store in Fayetteville: its support of the military, and location. The result was the first military-themed Kangaroo Express. The convenience store at 5642 Bragg Blvd. is located across from Fort Bragg. The outlet includes all the offerings Kangaroo Express has BesT Original become known for: Bean Street Design Coffee, fresh sandwiches, an Winner: assortment of bakery options, Kangaroo Express, hot dog grills and “Hot From the Fayetteville, N.C. Oven” selections. It also includes a Subway restaurant with a drivethru and seating for about 30 customers. The Cary, N.C.-based retailer wove tributes to the U.S. military into the store. Six murals depict brave military men and women serving our country. The aptly named “Wash Rack” offers car wash services with automatic wash, foam, rinse and wax options. Customers can then grab a chilled beverage from the “Cold Canteen” walk-in. The mural selection and military-themed names were chosen through local input. Kangaroo Express saw an opportunity for its store A Wall of Honor in the store recognizes local com[that was] scheduled to be rebuilt to not only serve munity members that are making a difference in the the military community, but to embrace and show the Fayetteville area and around the world. It also displays company’s appreciation for our troops and their famirecognition from local military service organizations, lies,” according to the retailer. such as the USO-NC and Fisher House Foundation, Since its opening, the store has seen significant for Kangaroo Express’ support through its annual increases in traffic. Of those that participated in a cusSalute Our Troops campaign and throughout the year. tomer intercept survey, military personnel unanimously “Positioned across the street from a major entrance liked the military concept. Additionally, more than 70 onto U.S. Army military installation Fort Bragg, percent of citizens also liked the military concept.
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oticing a lack of conDesign venience stores and Honorable Mention: fast food choices near Jiffy Mart, Walpole, N.H. the New Hampshire–Vermont border, Champlain Oil decided to fill the gap with a 5,200-square-foot Jiffy Mart store on the New Hampshire side of the state line. The Walpole c-store features a Subway and Dunkin’ Donuts with a drive-thru window. The forecourt includes a gas canopy with four dispensers and a diesel canopy with two dispensers. According to Champlain Oil, the two-state border location fills a void for New Hampshire customers and draws customers from Vermont attracted to the lower gas tax and the lack of sales tax in its neighboring state. The resulting sales have been strong and this store has some of the top sales numbers in the company’s 31-store chain.
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ith a modest budget in hand, PDQ Food Stores approached Hussmann to help it build a new convenience store in Madison to add to its Midwest portfolio. The design philosophy was to “keep it simple” with a floor plan that is intuitive and fluid. Utilizing the interior wall structures and creating a compleBesT inTeriOr mentary color palette, the retail Design and service areas were defined. Winner: PDQ Food Store, The store is open enough for the Madison, Wis. customer to visualize the entire Designer: merchandising area from just about Hussmann anywhere in the store. The majority of focus has been placed on the made-to-order food program, keeping with the employee-owned company’s heavy focus on fresh store-made bakery items and prepared foods. PDQ offers a large variety of prepared foods, some of which are showcased in its Hussmann island merchandiser. The new store also highlights its World Cup coffee offering. Based in Middleton, Wis., PDQ Food Stores operates 30-plus convenience stores in Wisconsin and one location in Tahoma, Calif.
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n the small town of Newkirk, Jiffy Trip decided to do something special for its customers by introducing a fresh, modern image combined with the latest convenience store programs. The 3,691-square-foot store, which opened in BesT inTeriOr Design October 2013, boasts a beer cave, Subway restaurant, Honorable Mention: Jiffy and a drive-thru window Trip, Newkirk, Okla. where customers can get Designer: anything they want. Paragon Solutions The objective was to provide the town with a modern convenience alternative â&#x20AC;&#x201D; but it did not come without challenges. According to design firm Paragon Solutions, the budget was much less per square foot than previous stores because Newkirk is a smaller market.
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ack in the 1880s, the city of West was starting to grow thanks to the Katy Railroad. This growth brought Czech immigrants to the area hoping to purchase farmland and start a new life in the New World. Looking to build on this history, Slovacek’s wanted to capture the Czech culture in a progressive market offering a wide variety of foodservice BesT sky’s THe options and travel amenities. Showcased in this liMiT reMODel 12,000-square-foot store are Winner: Slovacek’s, Czech delicacies such as kolaches West, Texas and sausage rolls; Slovacek’s freshDesigner: baked goods; homemade meats and Paragon Solutions cheeses; gourmet sandwiches; and Laura Belle’s frozen yogurt. The location also features a beer cave, seating area, salad bar and an outdoor dog park. The existing space was the former home of a steakhouse, but with the help of Paragon Solutions, Slovacek’s opened its new store in October 2013. The unique architecture and quirky personality draws customers, and the offerings keep them coming back for more.
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BesT sky’s THe
aceTrac Petroleum liMiT reMODel Inc.’s Sunnyside store Honorable Mention: in Hampton was built RaceTrac, but delivering a consistent brand experience in 2008 as part of the comHampton, Ga. has become a pillar of RaceTrac’s commitpany’s RT5K prototype stores. ment to its guests. Given the site’s strong numbers, The project encompassed a complete renovation of RaceTrac was hard-pressed when the store’s interior, as well as significant modifications deciding to renovate it as a part of its multo its exterior. The 5,000-square-foot store now features tiyear renovation effort to upgrade existing stores,
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RaceTrac’s signature Swirl World frozen yogurt and new Speedy Avocado made-to-order concept. Speedy Avocado is especially highlighted in the new store design by being placed front and center, allowing the associates to be the heroes of the store. RaceTrac also incorporated numerous branding elements from
its new RT6K prototype into the renovation. “The RT6K prototype is a phenomenal success for RaceTrac and we want to bring our entire fleet of stores up to this standard in order to deliver a consistent experience for our guests,” the Atlanta-based retailer explained.
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hen a competitor moved in a block away from its first store in Desoto, Meiners Market decided to up its game. Most important in the remodel was reinforcing the fact that the store — and the company — was owned and operated by a local family. And just as important BesT was finishing the remodel before Casey’s General Stores Inc. opened MiD-BuDgeT its nearby convenience store. reMODel Customer expectations had Winner: Meiners Market, evolved since the original store Desoto, Kan. was built in 1996. Shoppers today want to stop at a store that feels safe and comfortable, and they shop for products that revive and refresh them before and after a long day at work or a commute, or for a special treat/reward. “We wanted to meet the needs of the modern customer while not losing touch with the local community. We also wanted to ‘warm’ up our store’s features to reflect the friendly and welcoming personalities of our store team,” the retailer noted. Meiners decided to replace what it called the white “hospital” walls of the store and revitalize it with warm colors. Modern tile was used to highlight certain
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areas of the store and stone facade added warmth to the exterior and the cashier stand. The ceiling height was raised to provide a feeling of ample space, plus the restrooms were remodeled with new fixtures added. Meiners also wanted to highlight the family part of its business and display its local history in the area. To this end, vintage pictures were transposed into large store signage. In addition, the retailer expanded the store’s foodservice offer, adding YoYo frozen yogurt, bulk candy, and a new fountain area with more flavors and options. Meiners also revamped the coffee counter and installed a flatscreen television to showcase its coffee offerings.
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tanding at the center of many professional buildings and medical centers, American Center BesT in Madison is aptly named. MiD-BuDgeT The storeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s operator, Loeder reMODel Oil, decided it was time to refresh Honorable Mention: the outlet, which is positioned American Center, just off the highway leading to the Madison, Wis. state capital. The retailer joined Designer: Hussmann with a longstanding partner and customer Hussmann to do just that. Hussmann created a 3-D model of the store so that Loeder Oil could gain a clear understanding of how the store interior would transform. The new design places visual emphasis on the new beer cave and coffee islands so that neither is lost in the layout. Adjacent product and food offerings surround focal areas. In addition, the blue truss work ties the convenience store to the Subway restaurant that shares the space. The remodel also draws attention to American Centerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ties to the community, with photo displays of local landmarks and flatscreen TVs showing college football games.
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spaces, as well as new-to-industry and his spring, BP launched “to lOW-COsT competitive conversions, the company go,” a new retail image for its reMODel explained. BP’s foremost challenge was market east of the Rockies. The Winner: providing a quality image that could be approach allows BP-branded marketers BP to go, Chicago affordable to a broad spectrum of jobber/ the flexibility to upgrade their convedealer operators with varied resources. nience stores with an attractive new look The result is a fresh new look for BP conve— inside and out. nience stores that will provide an enhanced customer The retail image package includes a variety of experience aligned with BP’s premium fuel offer. The elements to suit various c-store layouts, building exteoil giant piloted the program in 2013 and the response riors and price signs. The elements are designed to from participating BP-branded marketers thus far has blend seamlessly with existing BP brand designs and been positive. are flexible enough to accommodate the unique needs of small- and large-format sites. The new “to go” image needed to be retrofittable to existing architecture, fixtures and interior
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ow do you take a tired old legacy store and turn it into a modern truck stop? For Ports Petroleum and its Fuelmart in Perrysburg, it took vision. The new store design features huge restrooms and showers, a large beer cave, a Subway restaurant and a graband-go program that would entice any customer. BesT Greeting shoppers to COlD VaulT the right of the entrance is Winner: Fuelmart, the store’s expansive cold Perrysburg, Ohio vault that stakes claim Designer: to one whole wall in the Paragon Solutions 6,890-square-foot store, developed in partnership with Paragon Solutions. The multidoor selection offers all the “fuel for the day” that a customer needs. The objective was to breathe new life into an old site and that objective was met.
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uel Maxx’s goal is to provide the community with a warm environment filled with amenities and a friendly staff. Its Store No. 6 in Spring is no different. The recent renovation at the 4,300-square-foot store draws in customers with vibrant, colorful wall graphics highlighted with warm LED lighting in an open-ceiling concept. Running along the walls are coolers with 3-D directional signs for beverages and snacks. Anchoring BesT Beer CaVe the corner of the cooler is a true Winner: Fuel Maxx, gem: the Fuel Maxx Beer Vault, Spring, Texas which is designed to look like Designer: a see-through bank vault. The Builder Display & Art Beer Vault is a walk-in cooler where customers can choose their favorite beers by the case — already pre-chilled. Beyond the cooler walls is the Fuel Maxx Wine Cellar boasting 20 shelves of fine wines. Other offerings are easily spotted, including a coffee bar, fresh deli counter with breakfast and lunch items, a self-service soda fountain, and a large array of frozen drinks. “Our design goal is to give our patrons the feeling they have entered a store with a solid foundation that wants to be an extension of the community itself,” according to the retailer. “We want to be
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part of their daily routine with more than just competitive prices, which is why we have made our interior graphics visually pleasing and even fun to look at. From the animated bubbles coming from the fountain area to the steel walls of the Beer Cave, our goal is to make their daily visit with us a moment to look forward to every day.”
ast Eddy’s in Meridian was already a busy store, but its operators thought it was time for a change — and what a change it turned out to be. Plans called for replacing the store’s 1,800 square feet of retail floor space with a new design featuring nearly 6,000 square feet. Taking a starring role in the sky’s-the-limit remodel is the new BesT grOWler Growler Station, which serves up 24 different beers on tap. sTaTiOn By increasing the floor Winner: Fast Eddy’s, space, Fast Eddy’s owners also Meridian, Idaho made room for more roller grills (now four) and additional soda fountains (now three, each with 16 heads and eight flavor shots). Fast Eddy’s enhanced its foodservice offerings as well, with freshmade sushi delivered daily by a local sushi retailer and two hot cases for ready-to-eat food. In addition, the retailer upped the number of pay points from three to five, and expanded its wine selection from slightly less than 100 bottles to more than 300 after the remodel. The main challenge was simply getting everything to fit into the store. “Not being a ground-up build, we had to make adjustments and compromises to make everything work,” said owner Steve Eddy. “The results have been great with the Growler Station drawing in a lot of
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new customers, and the increased floor space allows us to not feel claustrophobic during the busy times.” Sales and customer traffic have increased compared to the previous year’s figures.
urphy USA was going for that “wow” experience and it delivered. Working with Chute Gerdeman to develop its new store prototype, the retailer’s chosen concept focuses on welcoming customers to a fast, reliable, cost-conscious encounter. The retailer drives home its mission with sleek, dynamic graphics that convey movement and speed, as well as provide a wayfinding system that highlights various product areas. In addition, calls to action on the soffits are paired with a floor-toBesT grapHiCs ceiling path to the soda fountain, Winner: Murphy USA, making it easy for the customer to El Dorado, Ark. find what he or she is looking for. Designer: What first grabs a customer’s Chute Gerdeman attention is the gas canopy — designed to be open and to clearly highlight price. The storefront conveys fastness with an open entrance devoid of barriers. Speedier than typical construction, these new small-format Murphy USA stores use a pre-fabricated, modular structure. Every piece, from the walls to premounted graphics, is delivered in a single package to maximize efficiency. The strategic use of light gives the store dynamism and energy. Fixtures are black so they recede, allowing the product to take center stage.
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Keeping in mind that for the customer, it’s all about time, the design team helped to hone in by reducing clutter for a more organized cash wrap. “Messages are brief and friendly,” according to Chute Gerdeman.
n 2013, NOCO Express replaced a small, out-ofdate convenience store BesT grapHiCs in Getzville with a new Honorable Mention: 6,300-square-foot retail outlet. NOCO Express, The store now features a Tim Getzville, N.Y. Hortons, Subway restaurant and a beverage bar. In addition to the quick-service restaurants, this NOCO Express offers fresh food items, such as fruit and sandwiches from its Nickel City Foods program. What really grabs the customer’s attention and complements the product offerings, though, are the graphics. NOCO Express did not skimp on colors, images or flatscreen TV monitors to showcase the different areas of the store and promotional specials. Since reopening last year, the store’s sales have increased exponentially, making NOCO Express Store No. 27 one of the retailer’s busiest locations.
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The Best in Convenience Foodservice Maverik takes the gold in 2014 Foodservice Innovators Awards By Don Longo
rom innovation in menu development to creative money-making promotions, this year’s Convenience Store News Foodservice Innovators Awards winners show why they are helping to revolutionize consumer perceptions about convenience foodservice offerings. Presented in partnership with Tyson Foods, the Foodservice Innovators Awards recognize convenience retail leaders that are raising the bar on quality, service and innovation in this fast-growing and critically important product category for c-stores. Winners were chosen by CSNews’ 18-member How To Do World-Class Foodservice “How To Crew,” made up of experts from the retailer, supplier, research and consulting fields. There are six award categories. Gold and silver medals were awarded in each category.
FoodservIce InnovAtor oF the YeAr, Gold MedAl
Maverik Inc., North Salt Lake City, Utah Although Maverik is already renowned for its adventure-themed store environment, great customer service and broad product offering, the How To Crew judges placed the chain at the top of the pack this year for a number of innovations that began in 2014 and are continuing and evolving. These important innovations include: • Reorganizing its physical stores and product merchandising to enhance the communication of its broad offering. Thus, the retailer is better able to help its customers fill eating use occasions from a huge combination of offerings. • Significantly reducing its inventory of underperforming products to make room for more impact from its best-sellers, for new product innovation, and for customers and service. Essentially, a c-store foodservice interpretation of the traditional retail 80/20 rule.
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• Increasing its stores’ focus on Maverik’s fresh foodservice brand Bonfire by visually and physically bringing the fresh food offer forward in the store. “Adventure’s First Stop” — the stores’ tagline — features the Bonfire Grill’s open display kitchen front and center as the centerpiece of the store. • Bringing a laser focus to its fresh food and beverage offer to target customers’ needs and wants — all in relation to a deep and broad awareness of its competitive market. Maverik’s fresh food and beverage launches this year include the ciabatta pizza program, “Mix-It-Up” fountain program, Biscuits n’ Gravy, and the Fresh Cookie “Flash Sale.” All of these new programs demonstrate product and marketing innovation at work. • Refocusing staff training and operations on improving both the reality and perception of freshly prepared and custom-assembled food specialties as the heroes of its product lines. • Refining strategic and tactical philosophy and activities to bring these improvements to customers in a consistent and meaningful way. All this taken together is the Maverik way of serving and delighting its customer communities. In combination, these components are positioning Maverik to make the quantum leap from being “very good” to “great” and, in the opinion of the judges, worthy of
the CSNews Foodservice Innovator of the Year gold medal for 2014. FoodservIce InnovAtor oF the YeAr, sIlver MedAl
Rutter’s Farm Stores, York, Pa. Rutter’s is a perennial convenience foodservice innovator. While the chain takes home silver this year, Rutter’s won the gold medal in this same category in 2012 and last year, it was honored with the gold medal in the Best Prepared Foods Innovator category. Rutter’s continuously innovates its prepared food menu and stretches into uncharted convenience store territory with new, unique menu items such as: • Made-to-order dinner bowls • Fried turkey legs • Mexican fare including Frito pies, tacos and quesadillas • A deep menu of cold and hot sandwiches • Ultimate burgers and sliders • Stromboli and pizza • Fun sides and snacks • A deep breakfast menu • Consistent healthy fare with wraps, unique salads and soups Just recently, the chain also rolled out BBQ Short Ribs and Italian desserts including cannoli. Rutter’s continuously adds new flavors and varieties to its menu and the retailer is both strategic and fearless — when new items are rolled out, they are executed flawlessly. Best PrePAred Foods InnovAtor, Gold MedAl
Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes, Canastota, N.Y. Nice N Easy was the silver medalist for Best Prepared Foods Innovator in 2012 and the silver medal winner for Best New Foodservice Program in 2013. This year, the central New York State chain of about 80 stores — recently acquired by Texas-based CST Brands Inc. — captures the gold in the Best Prepared Foods Innovator category. Nice N Easy consistently executes outstanding food, both hot and cold, and continuously innovates and refines its menu. Instead of offering too many different categories, the chain has deep offerings in a few main categories: • 14 varieties of appetizers • Seven types of hot subs • A dozen different sandwiches and wraps • Four varieties of fresh salads • A dozen sandwich melts
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• 14 types of deluxe gourmet pizza • Stromboli • Breakfast pizza and other breakfast and bakery fare Nice N Easy also offers a few hot dinner entrees, including Beer Battered Fish & Chips, Mac N Beef, Mac N Cheese, Chili, and Chicken Pot Pies. In July, Nice N Easy expanded its breakfast offering by introducing its first wrap: an Italian Sausage Breakfast Wrap made with sausage, eggs, cheese, green peppers and onions. As a strong regional player, Nice N Easy is lauded for incorporating regional food favorites into its menu, and its foodservice team includes two great chefs. Best PrePAred Foods InnovAtor, sIlver MedAl
Kwik Trip Inc., La Crosse, Wis. Kwik Trip, the 450-store Midwest retailer, has been making a lot of news lately with its innovative growth into alternative fuels, particularly developing a compressed natural gas infrastructure across Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. But the convenience retailer built a reputation with its fresh daily food program, from baked goods such as Glazers doughnuts to sandwiches to pizza. (Its Dollar Slice Day is one of the retailer’s top promotions.) “Kwik Trip’s ability to deliver fresh foods to its stores six to seven days a week gives it a huge innovation advantage over most c-stores,” said one CSNews How To Crew judge. “Big on Fresh, Low on Price” is the mantra of this vertically integrated retailer, which has its own centralized commissary, bakery, dairy, soda and water bottling plants, and handles its own distribution of fresh product to its stores on a daily basis. As one of the first c-store chains to introduce a low-calorie, healthy menu, Kwik Trip in March began implementing a new EATSmart program and other policies that promote healthy eating habits among consumers. Recently, Kwik Trip debuted an egg white, ham and cheese on English muffin sandwich. The retailer this year also started a Healthy Concessions Program that allows organizations to purchase healthier items at discounted prices to use in their fundraising efforts. To create continued excitement in its prepared
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program offering with high product quality and presentation,” said one retailer on the CSNews How To Crew. Consumers appear to agree. In a recent survey conducted by Technomic, a foodservice industry research firm, QuickChek was voted No. 1 among the top c-store chains for overall beverage quality. Best hot BeverAGes InnovAtor, sIlver MedAl
foods, Kwik Trip has been more aggressive than ever with limited-time offers this year. New bakery items have debuted every two to three months, and the same timetable is being applied to its sandwiches and hot case. This strategy enables the retailer to incorporate new items into its menu with low risk. Best hot BeverAGes InnovAtor, Gold MedAl
QuickChek Corp., Whitehouse Station, N.J. Offering a wide variety of high-quality coffee beverages, QuickChek is a “best-in-class” operator in the convenience hot beverage category. The chain of 140 convenience stores in New Jersey and the Hudson Valley of New York won this same award in 2012 and last year, it was the silver medal winner in the Foodservice Innovator of the Year category. The retailer uses a timer program that always ensures consistent fresh coffee, and there’s a dedicated, friendly coffee host/hostess (or barista) in each store who provides excellent customer interaction and service.
Wawa Inc., Wawa, Pa. Last year, Wawa was the gold medal winner for Foodservice Innovator of the Year and before that, it was the silver medalist in the hot beverages category. Then and now, CSNews’ How To Crew judges rave about the 650-plus-store chain’s hot beverages program. Since 2000, Wawa has served more than a billion cups of coffee and commands a significant market share of the brewed coffee market, ranking No. 1 in Philadelphia and No. 7 nationally. In his recently published book, “The Wawa Way,” former CEO Howard Stoeckel points out that the retailer’s product development team includes coffee specialists who conduct sensory testing and develop specifications for all the various blends and roasts sold. Offerings include regular, decaf and varietals: French vanilla, hazelnut, Columbian and dark roast. CSNews’ How To Crew judges cited Wawa’s baristaserved beverages that “rival Starbucks” and noted the retailer’s addition of new flavors and drink offerings. Coffee continues to be key to Wawa’s drive to better position its stores to be a solution for customers’ needs during their busy daily lives. Best cold & Frozen BeverAGes InnovAtor, Gold MedAl
QuickChek’s hot beverage program layout enables optimal customer flow, as the “Q Coffee” area feels like a coffee shop within the convenience store. A variety of fresh condiments, driven by customer preference and requests, is available and if a customer asks for a unique condiment, they’ll do their best to provide it. The retailer’s innovation continued this year as it launched a new espresso program and other specialty beverages aimed at trading customers up to a higher price/register ring, while also providing high-quality products and customer value. “QuickChek does an excellent, very consistent job in
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7-Eleven Inc., Dallas Judges gave 7-Eleven, the silver medalist in this category two years ago, credit for a number of innovations around cold and frozen beverages, earning it the gold medal this year. 7-Eleven, the nation’s largest c-store chain, is particularly recognized for creating innovative and unexpected Slurpee flavor offerings, such as: • Its first regional Slurpee flavor, the Vernors Slurpee, offered at 200 stores in Michigan. Vernors, the oldest surviving ginger ale brand, was created in 1866 in a downtown Detroit pharmacy and remains a statewide favorite. The Vernors Slurpee, which debuted in May, was a hit with 7-Eleven customers in the area. • An exclusive Sprite 6 Mix Slurpee inspired by NBA
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HUSA brands drive higher lift during the big game versus upscale and craft
Shoppers are more likely to purchase imports for the big game 2
Source: Nielsen, three weeks ending 2/8/14 HUSA Shopper Insights, Spectra, MarketTrack February 2014 Shopper Survey
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star LeBron James. Developed in partnership with the basketballer, Sprite 6 Mix combines the taste of traditional Sprite with natural cherry and orange flavors. Sprite 6 Mix by LeBron James is also the first Slurpee drink to tout a famous athlete’s name. • On the Slurpee’s 49th birthday, 7-Eleven introduced two limitededition Slurpee flavors for the summer: Lemonade and Slurpee Lite Sugar-Free Fanta Watermelon Punch. On the marketing front, 7-Eleven gave Slurpee a fun twist this summer by offering 26-ounce refillable, plastic Mason jar mugs with drink straws that have mustaches attached. The novelty jars and straws came in four styles and colors, and retailed for 99 cents each. Best cold & Frozen BeverAGes InnovAtor, sIlver MedAl
QuikTrip Corp., Tulsa, Okla. QuikTrip, the Oklahoma-based chain of 700 convenience stores in 11 states and several large metropolitan markets, claims to be the first retailer to offer self-serve fountain drinks, and the company’s cold and frozen dispensed beverages have served as a forerunner to its evolution into a superior all-around convenience foodservice retailer. QT won the gold medal in this same category in 2012 and last year, it was the gold medal winner for Best Hot Beverages Innovator. In its new-build and remodeled “Generation 3” stores — designed based on years of asking customers what they would like to see, taking those thoughts and then determining what would work — the retailer offers a multitude of dispensed beverage options including: • Traditional fountain drinks • Smoothies • Fresh-brewed iced teas • Lemonades and limeades • Flavor shots The stores also feature the coldest drink QT has to offer: its icy, flavor-infused Freezoni frozen drinks. Customers can mix and match their favorite beverage forms and flavors to create a customized drink, plus they can add in a fountain flavor, syrup, creamer or whipped topping.
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Customized beverages also take center stage in the form of QuikTrip’s specialty beverage bar, which is part of its larger QT Kitchens initiative. Staffed by associates, the QT Kitchens concept offers fresh, madeto-order food and beverages, including specialty drinks and soft-serve ice cream. “The expansion of beverages in the new QT Kitchen stores is one of the most impressive in the industry,” said one retailer member of the How To Crew, who added that the chain’s brewed tea lineup is “way above anywhere else.” Best neW FoodservIce ProGrAM, Gold MedAl
Casey’s General Stores Inc., Ankeny, Iowa Casey’s is this year’s gold medal winner in the Best New Foodservice Program category for innovations in its robust pizza business, including its new, unique standalone pizza store. The Midwest chain of more than 1,800 stores was honored with a silver medal as Foodservice Innovator of the Year in 2012, when it first began offering pizza delivery, which has now spread to more than 225 of its stores. This year, CSNews’ How To Crew lauded Casey’s new Pizza Express location in Pleasant Hill, Iowa, as an innovative addition to its drive to dominate the pizza business in its markets. The retailer’s first standalone pizza restaurant is a 1,600-square-foot location that offers pizza (whole and by the slice), chicken wings, breadsticks, fountain drinks and a self-serve frozen yogurt bar. Pizza Express does not sell traditional c-store products, such as cigarettes, groceries or doughnuts. Though still a test concept, Casey’s earlier this year announced plans to open five more Pizza Express locations in the Des Moines, Iowa, metro area. Another way Casey’s is growing its already-bustling pizza business is with line extensions. After testing a new flatbread pizza line in the inaugural Pizza Express location, Casey’s decided to roll it out chainwide in January. This thin-crust version is priced the same as its traditional pizza at $11.99 for a large, single-topping pie and $15.99 for specialty varieties.
ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSIBLE PERFORMANCE EXPERIENCE
Best neW FoodservIce ProGrAM, sIlver MedAl
QuikTrip, Tulsa, Okla. QuikTrip picks up its second silver medal this year in the Best New Foodservice Program category for its new QT Kitchens concept, universally lauded by the How To Crew. After initially testing the fresh-made food program, QT quickly began rolling it out across its ample footprint. The chain expected to finish the rollout of QT Kitchens to all its stores scheduled for a remodel by October, just nine months after the project began. The QT Kitchens program offers fresh, made-to-order food and beverages, such as flatbreads and sandwiches, kolaches, specialty drinks, soft-serve ice cream and whole or by-the-slice pizza, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Best FoodservIce lIMIted-tIMe oFFer/ ProMotIon, Gold MedAl
Kangaroo Express, Cary, N.C. Kangaroo Express, the main store brand of The Pantry Inc., which operates more than 1,500 c-stores in the southeastern United States, brought back its renowned Roo Cup — a collectible cup refillable with any fountain or frozen beverage — this year for the hot summer season. In April, the chain gave Roo Cup fans the chance to register and reserve — or “ROOserve” — their cup one week early if they reserved it on the chain’s Facebook page or via the Kangaroo Express mobile app. Those who made a reservation received a certifi-
cate via email or on the mobile app’s Deals page with details on how to redeem the certificate in-store and purchase their cup on April 24. The Roo Cup was fully released to the public May 1. The 2014 Roo Cup retailed for $6.99 plus tax and could be refilled with any fountain or frozen beverage for 25 cents from May 1 through Sept. 30, almost a full month longer than last year. Roo Cup customization options, such as colored
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straws, returned alongside new deals. For example, during “Straw Days,” fans with a specific color straw could redeem a free Roo Cup refill. Kangaroo Express also offered a free Roo Cup refill with the purchase of a grill item at grill-ready stores and snacks in a Roo Cup display for 75 cents. The retailer also asked Roo Cup fans to share their summer Roo Cup experiences through social media using the hashtag #ROOCup. Best FoodservIce lIMIted-tIMe oFFer/ ProMotIon, sIlver MedAl
Maverik, North Salt Lake City, Utah Maverik is the silver medal winner for Best Foodservice Limited-Time-Offer/Promotion this year for not one, but two unique promos. The MOAB, or Mother of All Burritos, grew out of Maverik’s recognition that its customers love highquality burritos. The retailer also recognized the success of large burrito offerings at other restaurants like Chipotle, so Maverik was determined to create one burrito to “rule them all.” The MOAB solved the customer breakfast question of “Which part of the pig do I want to eat today?” by including sausage, ham and, of course, bacon, all in one mega burrito. Maverik also added twice the eggs and hash browns, all wrapped up in an extra-large, 13-inch tortilla. The retailer generated buzz about the MOAB with irreverent and edgy advertising. The promo was successful in trading customers up to a higher price/ register ring and with a greater profit. Without launching at a discounted retail, the MOAB quickly rose to Maverik’s No.1 breakfast item in sales, profit and number of units sold. The other promo was the retailer’s Fourth of July Fresh Cookie “Flash Sale.” Maverik developed this buyone, get-one-free promotional vehicle to help stores sell more product, while rewarding customers with a great treat on an important travel day of the year. Maverik advertised the Flash Sale to its 400,000 loyalty club members via an email “flash” message. The company’s chief operating officer challenged the retailer’s operations team to sell as many fresh cookies as they could, with some enticing incentives for the company, the top store performers and the top Adventure Guide (store associate) for reaching the goal. On the day of the promotion, Maverik increased fresh cookie sales by 1,227 percent over the prior year and achieved a company per-day sales milestone.
Congratulations T O T H E 2 014 H O N O R E E S
Foodservice Innovator of the Year
Gold Medal Award
Silver Medal Award
Best Cold & Frozen Beverages Innovator
Gold Medal Award
Silver Medal Award
Best Prepared Foods Innovator
Gold Medal Award
Silver Medal Award
Best New Foodservice Program
Gold Medal Award
Silver Medal Award
Best Hot Beverages Innovator
Gold Medal Award
Silver Medal Award
Best Foodservice Limited-Time Offer/Promotion
Gold Medal Award
Silver Medal Award
Thank you for your leadership in our industry.
2014 Tyson Foods, Inc. Tyson is a registered trademark of Tyson Foods, Inc.
The Best in New Products CSNews’ 18th annual awards honor 20 products of the year By Susan Durtschi
nacking is a way of life in America. The percentage of Americans who snack at least three times a day has increased exponentially over the last five years and convenience stores are smartly capitalizing on the trend. From Baby Boomers to Millennials, about half of all eating occasions are snacks and mini-meals, and these occasions are taking place when people are alone because they can get things done while they are eating. This year’s batch of winners in the Convenience Store News Best New Products Awards tap into the latest snacking trends including one-handed protein snacks to healthy “bites” meant for sharing. The winning products’ descriptions also herald such on-trend terms as “gluten free,” “premium,” “bold flavors” and “exotic combinations” of ingredients. After a month of consumer testing, the votes were tallied and 20 winners were recognized by CSNews at the 2014 NACS Show in Las Vegas for bringing the best new products to the convenience store industry during the past year. Judging for the 18th annual CSNews Best New Products Awards was supervised by Past Times Marketing, a New York-based consumer research and product testing firm. Entries were rated and awarded points by consumers based on the criteria of taste, value, convenience, healthfulness, ingredients, preparation requirements, appearance and packaging.
THE 2014 WINNERS ARE: Alternative Snacks: Nature Valley Nut Clusters. Nature Valley from General Mills Convenience has come out with singleserve bags of Nut Clusters — From left to right: Sandie Deas-Johnson, Lynn nuts and granola Choi Perrin, Amy Abouelenein, Alyca Judge and John Dalton in tasty, thick
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mini-square bites. Our panelists loved the Roasted Nut & Seed variety. “Satisfying flavor yet good for you,” said one panelist. “Perfect size for a hike, car or in the office drawer,” said another. The product is convenient and healthy with high protein and fiber. Candy/Chocolate: Twix Bites. Delivering the same chocolate and caramel-covered cookie bars as a full-size Twix bar, the unwrapped Twix Bites satisfy the sweet tooth. Consumers said they just “want a little bite,” and you can pop these in your mouth easily. Panelists also thought these “bites” were less messy to share than the regular bar, and you can eat some now and Tim Quinn save some for later snacking. A convenient option for social occasions or on-the-go, the product from Mars Chocolate North America is also very popular among the Hispanic demographic. Candy/Non-Chocolate: Fruit Vines Bites. From American Licorice Co., one of the original licorice manufacturers in the nation, comes a low-fat candy with no preservatives. These soft, chewy, bite-sized candies pack a punch in flavor. Fruit Vines Bites are available in cherry and strawberry, the top two fruit flavors in From left to right: Stephanie Louie and Madalyn Friedman America. Our testers loved the strawberry in a blind taste test. Following consumer trends for bite-size, on-the-go snacking, Fruit Vines Bites are the perfect portable sweet treat. “This is better licorice than the twisted sticks,” said one panelist. “Utterly addictive,” said another.
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Candy/Novelty: Disney Princess Light & Sound Wand. Cinderella is the most popular Disney princess character among U.S. moms of girls aged two to five, and she’s among the most popular Disney princesses among girls aged six to eight. This wand dispenser from CandyRific LLC uses unique sound-chip technology and incorporates a light-up feature. Press the button on the wand and Cinderella’s dress glows and shimmers while a magical-sounding music clip plays. A great impulse toy with candy in the wand. Edible Grocery: Pickle Crunch. This is a unique condiment to top sandwiches, hot dogs, sausages, salads and soups. Onion Crunch Inc. describes its newest product Pickle Crunch as the first battered, crunchy, deep-fried pickle that has a one-year shelf life. Perfect for grab-and-go wraps, our panel liked its flavor and versatility. It’s good for vegans and kosher, too. Electronic Cigarettes: NJOY King 5-Pack. Real tobacco flavor, a soft filter, plus the size, weight and appearance of a real cigarette all make the NJOY King
From left to right: John Bax, Geoff Vulletta, Craig Weiss and Vito Maurici
a product that delivers satisfaction to adult smokers. Our users liked the flip-top lid and great value of the money-saving 5-pack, which comes to $5.99 per King or a $10 savings on every purchase. Energy Drinks: Ultra Red. The energy drink scene is alive and well and very competitive. Ultra Red from
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Monster Energy follows in the footsteps of the brand’s original Zero Ultra in terms of aesthetic appeal. Ultra Red has zero calories and zero sugar, but you would not From left to right: Emelie Tirre, Rodney Sacks and Geoff Bremmer know it from the taste. This SKU has a light cranberry flavor with a big kick that lasts. Our panelists were impressed with the taste and the fact that there was no “crash” afterward. They were expecting it to be overly sweet like some energy drinks, but this was balanced just right. Foodservice/Display & Packaging: Embraceable Platter and Dome. This large oval platter from Anchor Packaging was designed with a locator ring in the bottom to hold a standard 8-ounce paper food container. The serving size can be used for chili, soups, oatmeal, grits, macaroni and cheese, fruit and many other items that often accompany a main dish, sandwich or salad. It is no longer necessary to lid both Mike Thaler the round 8-ounce paper food container and the main course to transport separately, as this packaging does double duty. Foodservice/Lunch & Dinner: Fast Choice HandWrapped Sandwiches. Variety in foodservice products is key to success in this category. The Fast Choice line of hand-wrapped sandwiches is a value offering from AdvancePierre Foods. These full-size, full-flavor sandwiches are priced right to give c-store operators more options for a value menu strategy, and are ideal for combo meal bundling and two-for-$3 deals. Our panelists liked the size, texture and flavor quality of all the sandwiches, From left to right: Nancy Todys and especially the Jalapeño Tony Schroder Charbroil Cheeseburger.
General Merchandise: Power Bank Portable Rechargeable Battery Backup. With so many personal communication devices today needing to be charged, it makes perfect sense to have a reliable power companion available to use while on the go. The Power Bank Portable Rechargeable Battery Backup from Mark Feldstein & Associates Inc. ensures you never run out of battery power on your smartphone, tablet and other portable electronics. The Power Bank is durable, compact and lightweight for easy travel. A micro USB cable is included. Our panelists liked the ease of use and the four “smart” colors available. Health & Beauty Care: Rolaids. Rolaids antacids relaunched by Chattem and distributed to the convenience channel by Lil’ Drug Store Products offer a unique dual-ingredient formula of calcium and magnesium, which the company claims is up to 44 percent more effective than Tums. One in four consumers suffers either from heartburn, acid reflux or indigestion, and nearly 60 percent treat these From left to right: Doug Marquardt and Ken Erickson symptoms with an antacid or similar item. The iconic Rolaids brand is a name consumers trust. The packaging and entry-level price of 99 cents to $1.49 is great for on-the-go purchasing at c-stores. Healthy Snacks: Pomegranate Pistachios Premium Blend. This conveniently packaged and flavorful nut mix from Sahale Snacks is “awesomely addictive” with its 160-calorie-per-ounce blend of Moroccan-spiced pistachios, almonds and dried cherries. One of our From left to right: Josh testers said, “This snack has Schroeter and Erika Cottrell an energizing zing to it.” Our panel also noted that it’s refreshing to see a trail mix with antioxidant and fiber components — an upscale, healthful trail mix indeed.
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Ice Cream & Frozen Novelties: New Blue Bunny Premium Ice Cream Pint Flavors. Blue Bunny Ice Cream from Wells Enterprises has embraced the Hispanic influence on the total market with a unique line of flavors, including Coconut Mango Swirl, Cuatro Leches, Flan John Reynolds and Hot Chocolate con Churros. These on-trend flavors provide a unique experience by bringing popular Hispanic desserts and fruits to ice cream. The high quality and smooth texture of each ice cream was noted by our panelists. They enjoyed all the unique flavors, but one stood out: the Coconut Mango Swirl, a refreshing combination of ice cream and sorbet. Meat Snacks: Jack Link’s Small Batch Handcrafted Jerky. Consumers are snacking more often and always looking for foods high in protein. This meat snack checks off all the boxes. Jack Link’s Small Batch Jerky is a premium beef jerky that is made with hand-cut
From left to right: Tony Dunning, Jeff LeFever, Troy Link, Jack Link, Nate Springer and Mike Sprinkle
slices of tender beef, slow-cooked in small batches and smoked in a traditional smokehouse. Our testers tried the three flavors: Original No.11, Peppered No.15 and Teriyaki No.17. The Original was their favorite. The smaller packaging was appealing, and the handcrafted marketing was clever and worked with the $5.99 price. Non-Edible Grocery: Beneful Healthy Smile Twists. This wholesome, tasty dog treat twopack from Nestlé Purina PetCare Co. is a low-cost solution for the impulse-driven dog treat category. Beneful Healthy Smile Twists
From left to right: Cindy McEntire and Michael Dambrosi
ME AT SNACK S
Love At First Bite.
New Look Hitting Shelves in 2015! TM
Contact your Jack Link’s Sales Representative for additional information Link Snacks, Inc. • One Snack Food Lane • Minong, WI 54859 • 715–466–2234 • JackLinks.com , TM, © 2014 LINK SNACKS, INC. ALL GRAPHICS ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE
are dental dog treats with a peanut butter flavor accented with real parsley to keep a dog’s smile happy and healthy. They reduce both plaque and tartar. This good-for-
your-dog product does not break the bank at $1 to $1.25 for the pack of two, and it also promotes awareness of other pet products being sold in c-stores. These were a hit
with our canine test group, as well as their owners. Other Tobacco Products: Garcia y Vega 1882. The rolled leaf cigar segment is growing at 21 percent per year. Under Garcia y Vega 1882, Swedish Match has brought out unique rolled leaf cigars with its Sweet Aromatic and Honey Berry varieties Ryan Krasner and added new flavors such as White Grape and Bourbon. The resealable zipper feature on the packaging ensures freshness, which was noted by our test panel. The 1882 line is value priced with multiple packaging formats in prepriced and open stock — a satisfying cigar at c-store pricing.
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Overall Innovation: Kunzler Individually Wrapped Cheddar Pepper Pretzel Dog. Want a fun food for lunch that allows you to text … with the other hand? This full-size cheddar pepper frank wrapped in gourmet pretzel dough is a winner from Kunzler & Co. It’s a great From left to right: Sarah Wilson, handheld Theresa McKinnell and Jim Wherley meal for $1.49. Our panel thought this individually wrapped dog was genius and so convenient. Also, the flavor was very satisfying and it’s not too messy. The product remains fresh for 14 days when refrigerated.
Salty Snacks: Snapea Crisps. Every bite of Snapea Crisps consists of 65 From left to right: Wayne Brown, Mio Sakata, percent peas for Taka Katsunoi and John Palczynski a pleasingly pure, super-crunchy snack. Nutrition-rich peas serve as the perfect palette for delicious, guilt-free Harvest Snaps flavors from maker Calbee North America LLC. The Wasabi Ranch was the favorite flavor because it had a kick to it. Gluten-free with high fiber content, Millennials were especially impressed with the concept, shape and packaging. Sweet Snacks: Brownie Brittle. Luscious flavor and amazing crunch are key components to a satisfying snack. With Brownie Brittle, you get both. The 2-ounce size comes in Chocolate Chip, Salted Caramel and Toffee Crunch varieties. Our testers were excited with the â&#x20AC;&#x153;edge-of-the-brownie crispnessâ&#x20AC;? and the 120-calorie-per-serving bites. The panel was hard pressed to pick a favorite, but Chocolate Chip won by a crunch. Vapor Products: Vapin Plus eLiquid Vaporizer Pen. With more and more consumers looking for smoking alternatives, vaping is a growing segment. Vaporizers differ from electronic cigarettes as they provide limitless options by allowing consumers to mix flavors and strengths to create their own product. With Vapin Plus from CB Distributors/21st Century Smokes, a wickless design and gravity-fed bottom coil produce more vapor and deliver a cleaner taste. The 5-Volt battery and 2.5-milliliter tank allow for extended usage. Carlos Bengoa Vaping costs up to 90 percent less than smoking traditional cigarettes, stated the maker. This vaporizer pen is competitively priced at $24.99. CSN Susan Durtschi, an experienced buyer and product development specialist for both brick-and-mortar and online retailers, is president of Past Times Marketing, a consumer research firm. For the fifth consecutive year, Convenience Store News partnered with Past Times Marketing for the Best New Products Awards. Past Times works via focus groups and through online surveys with consumers across the country to judge new products. For more information, go to www.pasttimesmarketing.com.
FOODSERVICE Prepared Food + Hot, Cold, Frozen Dispensed Beverages
Best Practices in Foodservice Safety & Sanitation By Maureen Azzato
our foodservice sales are growing steadily, the menu is pleasing to a large proportion of your customers, your food safety and sanitation programs and training are up to date, and you’ve passed your most recent health department inspections with flying colors. Life is good! Then, a few days later, a customer witnesses an employee in the bathroom who did not wash his or her hands with soap and water before going back to work, but the reason for the improper handwashing was the empty soap dispenser. Worse yet, the employee did not return with soap to fill the dispenser. What impression did that encounter leave with the customer? Is that customer likely to come back to your establishment, or will they assume these same lackadaisical practices occur regularly in other areas of your store and kitchen? Chances are high this customer will be turned off by what he or she witnessed and will not return to your establishment, and will share that experience with others. Food safety and sanitation is about the approach operators take toward cleanliness at all levels of the organization and in all areas
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Call tO aCtIOn: Foodservice 101
• Work with your local health department. • Always take food safety seriously. You can’t be too careful or over-prepared. • Establish a food safety performance bar for your organization and then hold your people accountable to hit that bar consistently. • Make food safety procedures simple, clear and detailed so they are easy for employees to follow. • Remember, food safety is everybody’s responsibility.
FOODSERVICE Prepared Food + Hot, Cold, Frozen Dispensed Beverages
of the store; not just the kitchen or areas visible to customers. The commitment to food safety and sanitation begins at the top, at the CEO level, and must trickle down to every employee in the field and in the stores where food is served, according to Convenience Store News’ How To Crew panel of foodservice experts. “Make it part of your culture to be food safe, not just when the health department is coming in to review your stores,” said Mathew Mandeltort, corporate foodservice manager for convenience store distributor Eby-Brown Co. LLC and an expert on the CSNews panel. All restaurants — from quick-service restaurants and convenience stores to white tablecloth establishments — are challenged by food safety, but it is the one area operators can’t afford not to master, no matter how good the food and presentation are. “Most foodborne illness outbreaks are caused by employees not using appropriate handwashing procedures or proper use of disposable gloves,” said Tim Powell, foodservice consultant with THINK Marketing and a member of the CSNews How To Crew. The best way to prevent foodborne illness — and not turn customers Foodservice 201 off — is continuous education and • Establish procedures for everything training, transparthat involves food preparation in the ent and detailed store so that employees don’t have procedures, to guess. implementation of • Train field personnel, as well as store inspection and meapersonnel and all foodservice departsurement standards, ment employees at headquarters. and employee and • Tap trained supervisors and district store rewards to managers to help teach and train encourage exememployees during store visits. plary food safety • Conduct monthly or quarterly quality performance. inspections to ensure proper storeMost of our level execution and to hold employHow To Crew ees accountable. experts agree food
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safety and sanitation is the single most important foodservice discipline. “If anything should keep you up at night about your operation, it should be food safety,” one retailer member said. “A serious mistake here would be both morally and financially devastating and very preventable. With just some focus, training and certification, follow-up and holding people accountable to execute, operators can have a viable and safe food program.” Putting proper food safety procedures in place is critical. Procedure manuals should be detailed and descriptive with step-by-step instructions for all aspects of the foodservice program so that every employee will understand what to do, leaving no room for interpretation. Our experts also say food safety procedure manuals should use narrative and images to communicate the proper safety and sanitation steps to take. “You have to keep in mind that not everyone cleans the same way,” one How To Crew retailer noted. Instructions must be explicit and clear. For example, “letting employees know the proper cleaning chemicals to use on particular areas of the store can help save you from dealing with hazardousmaterial use issues.” Retailers noted, however, that companies such as Ecolab have made using cleaning chemicals in the store simple for all employees because these systems use premeasured chemicals for sanitizer, floor cleaners and restroom cleaners. “This takes mixing out of the employees’ hands and ensures that the chemicals are not too strong or too weak,” one retailer added. MaStERIng thE FunDaMEntalS
The National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe program is the most widely used food safety and sanitation certification program, but several CSNews How To Crew members also recommend contacting state and local health departments that run programs. Some colleges and universities also have certification programs, and several industry foodservice suppliers provide training that may be less expensive. Anyone in the store who touches food should be food-safety certified, and training should be refreshed annually. In-store training should also be performed when new items are added to the menu or company procedures change. “This is generally up to the states, but all management should be certified and a good
FOODSERVICE Prepared Food + Hot, Cold, Frozen Dispensed Beverages
rule of thumb is recertification every five years,” one retailer stated. Training and refresher courses are available online, which makes it even easier for employees, managers and field personnel to stay current. High employee turnover in the convenience store industry makes ongoing training an expensive proposition, but it’s an investment operators must make. Although all food safety principals are critically important, operators need to stay on top of the fundamentals at all times, including temperature controls, avoiding cross contamination, personal hygiene, inventory rotation (first in, first out) and “always, always, always pay attention to expiration dates and dispose of product when it passes its viable life,” one How To Crew retailer urged. Eby-Brown’s Mandeltort offered the following disciplines and guidelines as a top-of-the-waves primer: Food temperature. Food has to be prepared and held at the proper temperatures in order to be safe: reheating hot foods to 165 degrees Fahrenheit and holding them at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and keeping cold food appropriFoodservice 301 ately cold at 41 • Establish a culture of food safety in the degrees Fahrenheit. organization, making it priority No. 1. Operators must • With foodservice so central to the keep food out of the organization’s profitability, all execu“danger zone” of 41 tive management should be fooddegrees Fahrenheit safety certified. to 140 degrees • If possible, hire internal field inspecFahrenheit. Foods tors to help visit and train storeshould be received in level employees. the stores at proper temperatures, too, with refrigerated foods at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or below and frozen foods at zero degrees Fahrenheit or below. Cross contamination. Avoid cross contamination (the transfer of harmful microorganisms or substances to food) at all costs. Cross contamination occurs in three ways — food to food, hands to food, or equipment to food. Ready-to-eat foods must receive the most care to prevent cross contamination. Personal hygiene. Don’t assume all employees
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understand personal hygiene equally. Food workers must observe the highest possible standards of personal hygiene to make certain that food does not become contaminated. High standards of personal hygiene also play an important role in creating a good public image. This includes glove use, handwashing, fingernail cleanliness, hair grooming, clean uniforms and eliminating unsanitary habits such as eating, drinking, smoking or spitting. It’s also vital for operators to have a clear food worker illness policy so sick or injured workers (with cuts or bandages) are not allowed on the job at any time. Sanitized food contact surfaces. All food contact equipment and utensils must be clean and sanitized: 1. Before a different type of raw animal food (beef, fish, lamb, pork and poultry) is used; 2. When you change from working with raw foods to working with ready-to-eat foods; 3. Between preparing raw fruits and vegetables and potentially hazardous foods (PHF); 4. At any time during the operation when contamination may have occurred; 5. Every four hours if used with PHF at room temperature greater than 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, clean and sanitize food thermometers before use or storing. Importantly, all aspects of a food safety program must be monitored and managed to be effective. Documenting daily procedures at store level in logs ensures all are complying with the policies and it helps managers identify problem areas or times of day that need more training attention. Most of our experts recommend field staff inspections of stores on a monthly or, at a minimum, quarterly basis using health department benchmarks for scoring. Many
health departments will provide scoring on various elements of food safety totaling 100 points. Operators can provide incentives for stores that reach specific scoring levels, our experts recommend. Retailers can also provide rewards for team members that complete food safety certification and training, and retraining. Some CSNews How To Crew members recommend that general store audits should also include some level of food safety inspection as a key component. For example, coolers, freezers and hot holding case temperatures can be easily checked and logged in a store audit. A good habit for operators to get into is keeping the kitchen and preparation areas clean and in such good condition that they would be presentable to a customer if they were to walk through. Lastly, share the good news, not only with store employees and top-level executives, but customers, too. “Post good health department scores where people can see them. Be proud if you do it well,” Mandeltort said. CSn
Our How To Crew David Bishop — Balvor LLC Ed Burcher — Burcher Consulting Joseph Chiovera — XS Foodservice & Marketing Donna Hood Crecca — Technomic Inc. Jack W. Cushman — Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes Dean Dirks — b2b Solutions Eric Giandelone — Mintel Foodservice Kane Kulas — CSM Bakery Products Michael Lawshe — Paragon Solutions Mathew Mandeltort — Eby-Brown Co. LLC Larry Miller — Miller Management & Consulting Services Maurice Minno — MPM Group Paul Pierce — Pure Plates Tim Powell — THINK Marketing Chad Prast — Murphy USA Inc. Bonnie Riggs — The NPD Group Jennifer Vespole — QuickChek Corp. Jerry Weiner — Rutter’s Farm Stores
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Taking Out the Garbage NACS Show 2014 kicks off multifaceted plan to improve industry’s reputation A Convenience Store News Staff Report
here is a lot of “garbage” being spewed about the convenience store industry, NACS President and CEO Hank Armour told attendees of the 2014 NACS Show, held Oct. 7-10 in Las Vegas. This “garbage” includes that c-store operators are purveyors of death because they sell tobacco products; that they addict people to gambling because they sell lottery tickets; and that they contribute to the nation’s obesity crisis because they sell items that allow consumers to indulge. “Now doesn’t all of that just chap your ass,” Armour said to rousing applause from the crowd, borrowing a quote from former NACS Chairwoman Sonja Hubbard of E-Z Mart Stores Inc. With these mistruths being perpetrated, “our future is at risk unless we do something about it,” he stressed. NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, intends to do just that. Armour unveiled a multifaceted, long-term plan to address and correct these reputational attacks on the c-store industry and instead present the facts:
82 Convenience Store News | NOVEMBER 2014 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM
• C-stores create opportunities; • Are responsible retailers; • Local governments depend on them; • Communities depend on them; and • They sell choice. The plan, among other things, calls for highlighting the many positives of the industry; tackling the misperception of dead-end jobs; addressing the nutritional
What’s Trending in Motor Fuels Alternative fuels were the talk on the NACS Show floor. Although compressed natural gas (CNG) and E15 must overcome infrastructure hurdles, industry executives said both should make a dent in the fuels landscape for one main reason: price. Scott Minton, CNG business development manager for OnCue Marketing LLC, explained during the “Fuels Outlook: Natural Gas” educational session that the Stillwater, Okla.based retailer sells CNG at 15 locations at a current average price of $1.69 per gallon. “We saved Oklahoma customers about $5 million last year and expect to save an additional $6 million in 2014,” he said. “Little of that money is going to savings accounts. Customers are going inside our stores and spending money on in-store items like Snickers bars.” Sales of CNG dispensers have grown dramatically in recent months, with orders continuing to come in by the bushel full, according to one fuel dispenser executive. Regarding E15/88 octane fuel, it sells for 5 cents to 10 cents cheaper than standard E10 petroleum, Mike O’Brien, vice president of market development for ethanol advocacy group Growth Energy, noted during the “Ethanol: How Could You” educational session. “There are zero consumer complaints and the publicity is good,” he said. “The common theme is that the lower price point and higher octane of E15 is a competitive advantage for retailers.”
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What’s Trending in Tobacco
“you’re a winner, baby,” sang outgoing NACS Chairman Brad Call at the NACS Show opening general session.
aspect of c-stores’ offer; bringing attention to the industry’s support of youth sports; and helping retailers overcome local zoning restrictions. “We are making this a better world and it’s a great story to tell,” Armour said as he encouraged the crowd to do their part. “Tell your story, walk the talk and be proud of what our industry does.” FilThy RiCh WiNNeRS
Fitting of the Las Vegas venue, the theme of the 2014 NACS Show was “A Winner Every Year.” In his highenergy opening general session address, outgoing NACS
What’s Trending in Foodservice Big, bold flavors and a concentration on the snack daypart were the key trends observed throughout the foodservice section of the 2014 NACS Show expo floor. According to industry suppliers, Millennial consumers are the driving force behind both these trends because they don’t eat traditional full meals and they like lots of variety. Hillshire Brands showed off some spicy, bold flavors via new breakfast sandwiches and roller grill items. Its Jimmy Dean Blazin’ Hot Breakfast Sandwiches debuted at the show and are available in several fiery varieties: Hot & Spicy Sausage and Biscuit; Hot & Spicy Sausage, Egg & Pepperjack Cheese Biscuit; and Spicy Split Sausage & Cheese Croissant. In addition, Blazin’ Hot is one of the flavors of the new Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sausage Roller Grill Links. Hunt Brothers Pizza, meanwhile, is tapping into the afternoon snack opportunity with the launch of Cheesebread in two sizes. Consumers can get an individual serving of two sticks for $1.99 or the family size for about $5. Cheesebread was specifically developed for snackers.
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A quick walk through the Cool New Products showcase or a scan of the NACS Show exhibitor list showed that this year’s tobacco category theme was vapor. Be it new flavors, new technology or new-to-industry products, this emerging segment was clearly the focal point. Blu eCigs previewed its new blu Plus+ Rechargeable Kit, which combines the best aspects of cigalikes and vapor/tanks/ mods. Dune Vapor Group LLC featured the Vapor J’adore for Her brand. Eco-Cigs’ Sapphyre product line introduced the ClearView line of eLiquid tanks that gives user a view of the e-juice. And Vapor4Life provided a sneak peek at its new retail brand, WOW Vapor, which will make its debut in January. Vapor talk on the show floor also dealt with the growing presence of vape shops and whether convenience stores can play a meaningful part in the vapor space. John Froman, CEO of Vapor4Life, cautioned against thinking vape shops will push convenience stores out of the vapor business. “You can look at the history of retail and see the rise of channels and the fall of channels,” he said. “Vape shops are in their infancy.” Vapor Corp.’s Dave Henninger told CSNews that at a time when so many new players are entering the market, responsibility and transparency are key attributes retailers are seeking from electronic cigarette and vapor suppliers. Vapor Corp. was showing new KRAVE e-cigs and VaporX products at the show.
Chairman Brad Call came out singing and dancing a winning tune arm in arm with two showgirls. “You’re a winner, baby, and that’s no lie!” Call belted out, repurposing a line from the 1978 song by the band Hot Chocolate and mixing it with the show’s theme. “After all, you’re here at the show working hard to learn, make connections and become better operators. I promise you and you and you — every one of you — will be filthy rich winners if you throw your whole self into this show.” Along with capitalizing on the innovation seen at the show, the vice president of Adventure Culture for Maverik Inc. encouraged his peers to “get out and see the world, take your teams to global forums” and NACS summits as he has done. “You will be so amazed at how much you learn and the innovative ideas you’ll take away from the stores [you] visit in those countries.” Call reported he racked up 279,000 miles in travel so far this year. “We are all trying to become better and better,” he added. “If we build and operate stores our communities
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What’s Trending in the Cold Vault Health and customization were emphasized by numerous beverage suppliers exhibiting at this year’s NACS Show, highlighting convenience stores’ ability to be a destination for indulgent treats as well as better-for-you products. Both PepsiCo Inc. and The Coca-Cola Co. showed off new options for consumers looking to cut down on the amount of high-fructose corn syrup in their diets — Pepsi with extra flavors in its “Made With Real Sugar” line, and Coke with Coca-Cola Life, a reduced-calorie cola sweetened with cane sugar and stevia leaf extract. Products made with natural ingredients, or perceived to New NACS chairman, Kwik Trip’s Steve loehr, challenged the industry to bring healthier products to customers.
would be proud of, we can overcome [zoning] issues of NIMBY, meaning Not in My Backyard. So, let’s utilize ideas at this show to make us better.” A NeW, heAlThy ChApTeR
On the final day of the NACS Show, incoming NACS Chairman Steve Loehr gave the industry something to chew on as he promoted the benefits of offering healthier products in the convenience channel. Loehr is vice president of operations support at Kwik Trip Inc., which sells 44 million pounds of bananas per year, as well as many other produce items and healthy products in its c-stores. The retailer even offers fresh fruit
be more natural, also seemed to be on the rise. Tea brands had a solid presence at the show, with several exhibitors noting that tea is a cold vault segment to keep an eye on as consumers explore healthier beverage choices. “The convenience retail channel is going through a dramatic transformation and there is huge growth potential,” said Doug Middlebrooks, assistant vice president, commercial marketing & operations, Coca-Cola Refreshments. “Non-alcoholic beverages have become the category with the highest incidence rates, and growth that is outpacing most other categories inside the store.”
for free to its employees. Kwik Trip was the first convenience store operator to be recognized by the Partnership for a Healthier
TOp 10 COOl NeW pRODUCTS Once again, the NACS Show featured the Cool New Products Preview Room where retailer attendees were able to scan any of the more than 290 new products on display there. This year, more than 1,800 retailer attendees visited the room and made a recordbreaking 34,260 scans, for an average of 19 product scans per visitor. Based on the number of scans received, the top 10 Cool New Products were: 1. TouchTower — Lancer Corp. 2. Micro Flamingo Display & Prestige Micro Display — FIFO Wireless 3. Kettle Brand & Emerald Snack Products — Diamond Foods Inc. 4. Ocean Spray Craisins (Enrobed and Clusters) & Sparkling Juice Drinks — Advantage Sales & Marketing 5. FIFO ~ The FINEST ~ Battery Backup Display — FIFO Wireless 6. f’real foods Mini Blending Bar — f’real foods 7. 15 Series Ice and Water Dispenser — Follett Corp. 8. Beverage Solutions Group Cream and Sugar Station — Beverage Solutions Group LLC 9. Dippin’ Stix Fresh Snacks — Reichel Foods Inc. 10. ORUS TABS Squeegee Bucket Solution — CAF LLC
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What’s Trending in Candy & Snacks Convenience store customers are increasingly living an on-the-go lifestyle and with breakfast remaining the top daypart for the channel, suppliers at this year’s NACS Show debuted more varieties of cereal bars, granola bars and other bars for quick morning consumption. Protein is also in demand, as the NACS Show exhibit floor featured a sizable number of protein-heavy bars, new jerky styles and flavors, and packaged protein beverages. When it comes to candy, suppliers are producing line extensions of their longtime-favorite brands, but in formats that make quick indulgence easier. More candy brands are becoming available in resealable, harder-to-spill, standup packaging and miniature size, such as Mars Chocolate’s Bites line, which will add a Mint 3 Musketeers variety in December. In regards to snacks, there seems to be more options than ever before, so retailers must be careful about what they offer and how they display it, according to The Hershey Co.’s Tom Joyce, vice president of global customer and industry affairs. He stressed the importance of “total category planning,” noting that products from different categories are often purchased together — for example, a soda and a candy bar — and therefore affect each other’s performance.
ph: 800-776-8834 | fax: 920-432-1918 | www.cdlatm.com 88 Convenience Store News | NOVEMBER 2014 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM
NACS CeO hank Armour says the trade group will highlight the many positive contributions the industry makes to its communities.
America (PHA), which is devoted to working with the private sector to ensure the health of the nation’s youth by solving the childhood obesity crisis. “It’s a big change from just a few years ago when [convenience stores] were considered part of the problem,” Loehr said, announcing that Sheetz Inc. and the Marine Corps Exchange joined Kwik Trip as PHA members that week with a pledge to sell better-for-you products. “We hope many more [c-store retailers] join the PHA when I come back here [to speak] next year.” Healthier foods will not be Loehr’s only focus during his oneyear tenure as NACS chairman. The 25-year Kwik Trip veteran said alternative fuels will be on his agenda as well. Kwik Trip recently opened its 30th compressed natural gas (CNG) location and plans to open an additional 15 CNG sites within the next year. “One great thing about CNG is price stability,” relayed Loehr. “We started offering CNG in 2012 and I believe we’ve only needed to change the price at the pump twice. We could have painted the price of CNG instead of buying a digital sign.” CSN
HOTPRODUCTS Special Advertising Section
CONVENIENCE STORE INSURANCE
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HOTPRODUCTS Special Advertising Section
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Convenience Store News presents multiple visions of the convenience store of the future
hat will the “convenience store” look like a decade or more from now? In this special edition, Convenience Store News taps some of the top thought leaders and design firms in the nation to give readers a peek at how the convenience store will evolve during the next several years and how it will serve a changing customer base in America. Just like today, where we see many different types of c-store models in action, we think the future will be composed of different types of c-stores, each focused on different aspects of the convenience experience and on different customer archetypes. We’ve organized this special issue around four different c-store models (stores of the future will likely incorporate aspects of all four of these basic types): • The Convenience Restaurant — Westport, Conn.based retail branding and design firm King-Casey provides us with the “blueprint” for what The Convenience Restaurant might look like. This store can be viewed as the future evolution of retailers that want to be like Sheetz and Wawa, and compete with the quick-service and fast-casual restaurants. • The Refueling & Refreshing Center — King Retail Solutions, a design firm based in Eugene, Ore., shows us the possible evolutionary development of c-store retailers that want to target on-the-go, mobile consumers, Millennials, bluecollar workers and multicultural consumers. The Refueling & Refreshing Center might be a cross
CSNews has been recognized with more editorial awards, including the prestigious Jesse H. Neal Award for business journalism, in the past six years than any other industry publication. 2013 Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award Best Single Issue, October 2012 2013 Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award Finalist, Best Profile, August 2012 2008 Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award Best Single Issue, October 2007
between a Chevron ExtraMile store and a Pilot travel center. • The Neighborhood Market — Tampa, Fla.-based retail design firm api(+) examines the future of retailers that seek to serve both the everyFor comments, please contact Don Longo, Editorial Director, day and fill-in shopat (201) 855-7606 or ping needs of a new firstname.lastname@example.org. generation of customers. The Neighborhood Market would probably have a family orientation; possibly be located in more urban locations; and might be a hybrid of a small grocery/gourmet food store — somewhere between a Walmart To Go, a Giant Eagle Express and a Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppe. • The Forecourt of the Future — Fort Worth, Texasbased design firm Paragon Solutions looks at the future evolution of retailers that operate travel plazas and other high-traffic locations. These retailers would likely be leaders in incorporating the latest new fuels and technology, such as various blends of ethanol, natural gas, hydrogen fuel, electric vehicle chargers, at-the-pump marketing and/or foodordering technology, forecourt infotainment, etc. Finally, we conclude this special edition with a story on how technological innovation will change the convenience store shopping experience of the future. I hope you enjoy our look into the crystal ball. CSN
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WWW.CSNEWS.COM | Store of the Future 3
Contents 3 FutureStore
Convenience Store News presents multiple visions of the convenience store of the future.
8 The Convenience Restaurant
Mall food court meets convenience in this store-of-the-future vision.
14 The Refueling & Refreshing Center
The most important aspect of this store prototype is its versatility.
18 The Neighborhood Market
Good things will come in small packages.
22 The Forecourt of the Future
Exciting technologies will lead the way forward.
25 The Connected Consumer
Shoppers will plug in to c-store products and services in entirely new ways.
22 8 25 14 4 Store of the Future | WWW.CSNEWS.COM
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The Convenience Restaurant
Car Wash Zone
Mall food court meets convenience in this store-of-the-future vision By Melissa Kress
Rendering created by King-Casey
FasT FooD Drive-Thru Zone
kiDs Play Zone
n March 2012, then-Wawa Inc. CEO Howard Stoeckel spoke before a crowded lecture hall at St. Joseph University’s Food Industry Summit in Philadelphia and explained that Wawa didn’t want to be “lumped into convenience stores or quick-service restaurants (QSRs).” Instead, the retailer considered itself a different breed: fast casual on the go. Fellow Pennsylvania-based convenience store chain Sheetz Inc. also has been transitioning itself from a traditional convenience store operator to a made-toorder fresh food retailer. It even started to put a heavy focus on restaurant-style hospitality in its training and employee development. Wawa and Sheetz are slightly ahead of their time, as one of the convenience store industry visions of the future is the convenience restaurant, which will compete head-to-head against fast-casual restaurants and QSRs, as well as supermarkets and other freshfood resources. “Future c-store strategies should be developed based on targeting both existing customers and noncustomers, identifying their unique needs, and developing a store experience that meets and surpasses all of their expectations,” said Howland Blackiston, principal at Westport, Conn.-based design firm KingCasey. “To be successful, tomorrow’s c-store should put a revolutionary focus on being a one-stop destination for conveniently satisfying the assorted needs of various sets of customers.” There are three customer (and non-customer) groups c-store operators must focus on in the years ahead: traditional convenience store users, Millennials and what King-Casey refers to as Balancer Moms. Because each of these groups has different needs,
8 Store of the Future | WWW.CSNEWS.COM
Fuel & reCharge Zone
inTerior Banking Zone
Drive-Thru Banking Zone
MulTiPle FooD Zones uPsTairs kiTChen PreP Zone
uPsTairs Dining Zone
Car hoP Dining Zone
Drive-Thru shoPPing Zone
TraDiTional C-sTore Zone
enTry Zone hoMe Meal rePlaCeMenT Zone
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Blackiston said c-stores of the future will be divided into “customer operating zones.” Each zone, he explained, will be responsive to the unique needs of each different target customer set. COZI, short for Customer Operating Zone Improvement, is already a strategic principle for KingCasey, which has been in the business of retail branding and design for 61 years. COZI focuses on understanding customer behavior to develop brand-specific solutions that make the customer experience easier and more pleasant overall. “Each zone should take into account that different customers have needs and expectations that are different from one zone to another,” Blackiston noted. “And so, the design of each zone (specific features and communications) must be different from one to the next, so as to meet and surpass target customer needs and expectations.” For this concept to work, c-store retailers will have to establish specific business goals for each zone, and identify zone-specific merchandising strategies and
10 Store of the Future | WWW.CSNEWS.COM
design features responsive to how customers use the zones. The zones will then be designed to achieve the business objectives. The result will be a faster, easier and more enjoyable customer experience and a strategy that distinguishes the brand in the market and maximizes business results, Blackiston said. “The c-store of the future will have identified its customer base and their specific needs and behaviors. This understanding will dictate how the store is designed, and the services and products it will offer,” he added. “To directly compete with QSRs and fastcasual restaurants, as well as supermarkets and other fresh-food resources, it will put a particular focus on food-related offerings.” King-Casey envisions the convenience restaurant concept consisting of: • Multiple Food Zones: The store includes a variety of themed food concepts, as you would find in a mall’s food court. These zones feature informal seating for those in a hurry, and adventuresome
variety and choice to satisfy a variety of needs. Primary customers for these food zones are Balancer Moms and Millennials. • Upstairs Kitchen Prep Zone: This area services and supports the multiple food concepts on the ground floor and also the home-meal-replacement zone. • Upstairs Dining Zone: Comfortable and varied seating zones allow for more leisurely dining. Different areas of the upstairs dining can appeal to different audiences (families, singles, etc.). Primary customers for this zone are Balancer Moms and Millennials. • Car Hop Dining Zone: Drive up, park, order and pay by touchscreen. The customer’s meal is brought right to the car. It is safe and convenient. Primary customers are Balancer Moms and Millennials. • Fast Food Drive-Thru Zone: Drive up, order and pay for choices from any of the store’s several themed food concepts. There’s something for everyone. Primary customers are Balancer Moms, Millennials and traditional c-store users.
• Home Meal Replacement Zone: Here customers can pick up an array of top-quality prepared meals to go. Primary customer is Balancer Moms. • Kids Play Zone: A family-friendly area for children to play while their parents eat. Primary customer is Balancer Moms. Additional zones could also be added to bring a mix of traditional convenience store and suburban strip mall. These zones would include a drive-thru shopping zone; a traditional c-store zone; a pharmacy zone; an interior banking zone; a drive-thru banking zone; a car wash zone; and a fuel and recharge zone. Aside from how the store is laid out, retailers will need to be environmentally responsible, Blackiston advised. In the store of the future, for example, all roof surfaces will feature solar panels. The materials, fixtures, lighting and architectural details of the concept will all underscore a brand’s commitment to Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) standards. These attributes appeal in particular to Balancer Moms and Millennials. CSN
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The Refueling & Refreshing Center The most important aspect of this store prototype is its versatility By Angela Hanson
Renderings created by King Retail Solutions
ears ago, convenience stores simply lived up to their name, enabling consumers to make a convenient purchase of a snack or beverage in addition to the primary purchase of gasoline. Today, however, consumers are not only willing to give c-stores more consideration for meeting their needs, but they also understand that not all c-stores are the same. As the industry continues to evolve, c-stores that fall into The Refueling & Refreshing Center category will have the potential to become the most fundamen-
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tal retail resource in the daily lives of consumers, said Todd Cole, design director for Eugene, Ore.-based King Retail Solutions (KRS), which designs retail spaces for some of the world’s most successful brands. “For retailers, the key to nailing this evolution and locking in convenience’s position as the cornerstone retail space in any given neighborhood will be striking the right balance between technological innovation, a modular shopper experience, foodservice quality and variety of choices,” Cole explained. The personalization of such stores will affect not only what consumers purchase there, but also how they engage the space — it could serve as a gas station, general store, coffee shop, dine-in or drive-thru restaurant, social meeting spot and more. To provide a glimpse of what The Refueling & Refreshing Center future c-store might look like, KRS designed a concept store dubbed “Fresh Fuel,” which is meant to meet shoppers’ daily needs regardless of the day of the week or time of day. “Fresh Fuel is a store people cannot imagine living without,” Cole said, noting that the most important aspect of the store is its versatility. “The goods are the same, the level of service is the same, but the amount of time they may spend on a transaction with you is up to the shopper. Some days, they may want to swing through; others they may want to spend a few hours.” The layout of Fresh Fuel is distinguished by the fact that customers enter
MoDern Growler Bar
the retail space the moment they enter the parking lot whether they do so in a car, on foot, on a bicycle or via public transportation. The built-in ceiling/canopy blurs the boundaries by creating an indoor/ outdoor zone, or an “in-between” realm that makes the site more than an exterior gas station paired with a boxed-in convenience store. “This in-between area sets the scene for choice,” Cole said. “It gives the choice of enjoying the offerings at your own pace, with the walk-in window being one of many options.” Deli offerinGS At Fresh Fuel, customers can choose to refuel and refresh themselves with the snacks, food staples or fresh-made meals offered inside toUchScreen orDerinG the store — all of which are easily ordered in advance online or via mobile device for a quick-stop pickup. Those who don’t mind a longer visit can enjoy the weather at an exterior seating area that features a sit-up deli/grill and family-sized picnic tables. Additional seating inside the store also lets dine-in customers make use of technology through built-in iPads that are free for customer use. The variety of choice and upscaling of the c-store’s refreshment options are evident in the personalized touchscreens for beverage ordering that offer far more than Coke or Pepsi. Instead of stopping by a soda fountain that’s impressive merely for its number of heads, cusmultiple target demographics who want a convenient tomers at Fresh Fuel can select anything from purified meal and drink, including busy, on-the-go customers; private-label waters to premium beverages, with the tech-savvy Millennials; multicultural consumers; and option to add flavor boosts, vitamin shots and other blue-collar workers. health/energy additives. The store perimeter carries on the combination of variety and quality in the form of a micro-format GOING NATURAL grocery for fresh food and basic offerings, a modern Separate from the products offered, the store congrowler bar that stocks beer and wine, a deli/bar and struction and décor are nearly as important to The grill, and traditional convenience items. Refueling & Refreshing Center of the future. Working together, Fresh Fuel’s offering appeals to “From a materials standpoint, natural sunlight
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brought in with massive skylights not only reduces lighting costs but enhances the mood and energy of shoppers and staff through the natural release of endorphins that comes with exposure to daylight,” Cole said. Inside the store, freshness isn’t only found in the products for sale. Living plants incorporated into the décor require more maintenance than fake greenery, but they contribute to a natural feel that eliminates the sterility of many modern-day retail locations. The living plants also have a functional purpose. They and a “living wall” outside the store, along with oil-clarifying vegetation placed among permeable pavers and solar brick (for night lighting) in the parking area, help to clarify the air and soil, and even help to improve moods as well, according to KRS. Solar panels and a gray water system further contribute to the store’s clean, green operations, resulting in energy savings and high marks from consumers who approve of businesses that care about their environmental impact. Décor that relies on natural materials — wood, brick and aluminum — is paired with modern digital screens that serve as menus, ordering tools and entertainment throughout the store to create a visual contrast that sets the unique Fresh Fuel store apart from competitors. The color scheme is purposefully designed to have
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a cool, neutral look that features pops of Fresh Fuel’s signature orange, which itself was chosen for its ability to inspire “joy and energy” and elevate the mood of the space. Orange also works well with green, the other color that pops throughout the site through the use of the plants. “[This keeps] the product and user experience on center stage, while simultaneously enforcing the lifestyle value of this modern convenience brand,” Cole said. Although The Refueling & Refreshing Center of tomorrow does several things different from today’s c-stores, it will not necessarily stand alone. The Fresh Fuel design is easily scalable to multiple locations and adaptable based on store size, placement, layout and ideally, the demographic served. “Some communities may favor a larger fresh-prepared area and no walk-up window,” Cole said. “Scalability and adaptability is key.”CSN
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The Neighborhood Market Good things will come in small packages By Linda Lisanti
Renderings created by api(+)
rocery history began simply. The local bakery and butcher shop came first and then shifted to a corner store concept, which grew into a one-stop shop idea, and now we’re seeing a return to simplicity, convenience and locality. In the future, convenience stores will evolve into savvy neighborhood markets that listen to their customers whose voices say: give me local flavor; embrace my multichannel retail demand; create an experience that offers tantalizing variety; give me healthy, fresh On-DemanD Fast Casual Cuisine
meals on the go — and make all of this easy and convenient, according to Tom Henken, vice president and director of design for api(+), the design firm behind the recent launch of Walmart To Go. Small-format shops of the future will highlight sensory experiences to engage shoppers through tasting, smelling, touching and seeing. Thanks to sharp shoppers, designers will have an open door to transcend tradition and activate the senses through smart technology, areas that cater to chef-driven cuisine in competition with fast-casual dining, and interactive CaFÉ-like envirOnment
teCH-savvY OrDering & PaYment
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programs that sell products in all their forms — raw, prepared and packaged. “Everyone is looking at smaller formats and they’re looking at different solutions for different demographics and different lifestyles,” explained Henken. On one end of the spectrum, there will be neighborhood market formats that don’t want to be really involved with food, catering to those consumers who want to get in and out; get the job done. At the other end, there will be neighborhood market formats that are more like fresh markets, offering the freshest meats and produce available. The movement to this type of store of the future is already underway, albeit on a small scale. In today’s retail world, Henken said the big-box stores and larger-format traditional supermarkets (averaging around 44,000 square feet) have become a commodity and are more attached to and designed for pantry shopping for suburbanites. Niche players, meanwhile, have started to move in to fill the gaps not being served by the big boxes and large-format grocers. traDitiOnal sHOPPing
On-DemanD Fast Casual Cuisine
Trader Joe’s, for instance, is filling a niche in offering interesting, non-national-branded items. Sprouts is filling a different niche with its farmer’s marketinspired, produce-centric stores. And then there’s Fresh Thyme, which is bringing in aspects of the natural foods marketplace. The consumer demographic that’s driving this
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evolution today — and will continue to drive it in the future — is Millennials, according to Henken. He noted that Millennials are much more focused on the here and now, and they are not meal planners. When it comes to choosing where to shop, they are of the moment: How do I meet this need now? “Millennials will be single or without kids later in life. They will have short little intervals of time to CaFÉ-like envirOnment
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devote to stuff they enjoy,” Henken added. “Food should be all about enjoyment.” That is why the “experience” side of the equation is going to be much more important in the future. Increased competition — the ability for consumers of the future to eat virtually almost anywhere — will also dictate that c-stores put forward an experience. Café-like environments and on-demand, fast-casual areas featuring cuisine bars, combined raw, PrePareD & PaCkageD with traditional shopping roots, will invite patrons to receive a truly customized shopping experience. Imagine drinking a fresh smoothie made with produce you just selected; or digitally ordering pantry items for delivery right to your door; or purchasing a semi-prepared or hot prepared meal sized exactly for you and your family. And all of this will be absent a checkout line thanks to integrated smart technologies, said Henken. “The goals of this market-ofthe-future are simple: high quality, customer-driven variety, [and] quickly accessible physically and digitally,” he stated. “Shopping trends show a customer [today] may visit the store multiple times a week, but they’ll ideally visit future neighborhood market c-stores daily, drawn by the store’s new vertraDitiOnal sHOPPing satility and convenience.” CSN
The Forecourt of the Future
Exciting technologies will lead the way forward By Brian Berk
Renderings created by Paragon Solutions
ell phone charging benches and 3-D holograms at the pump could very well be the future of the convenience store forecourt. To some, it may sound far-fetched that many gas stations will have both these technologies fully in place in just a few years from now. But Michael Lawshe, president of Fort Worth, Texasbased design firm Paragon Solutions Inc., stressed that these technologies are already available today, as opposed to something appearing only in an episode of “The Jetsons.” In fact, cell phone charging benches — also referred to as smart seats or Soofas — that allow consumers to charge their cell phones via USB ports
at park benches, are already gaining traction in major cities such as Boston, with President Barack Obama testing one out in July. Lawshe believes it is a natural transition for convenience store operators to install these benches at the forecourt in the near future. “Let’s say you pull up into the forecourt of the future and you fuel up your vehicle. Simultaneously, it can charge up your iPad and your iPhone,” he said. As for 3-D holographic images, Apple Inc. and Tensator Inc. are among the manufacturers that already offer this technology. “The Siri of the future will not just be a voice; it will be a holographic image of a man or woman depending on your personal tastes,” noted Lawshe. “It will greet you by name
AT-PUMP MERCHANDISE ORDERING
MOBILE WALLET PAYMENT
DIVERSE FUELING OPTIONS INCLUDING HYDROGEN AND FLEX FUELS
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IN-GROUND WIRELESS ELECTRIC CHARGING
and ask you, ‘How can I help you,’ or [it] can already know past orders you placed and ask if you want to repeat that order.” Via voice recognition, the 3-D hologram will take in-store orders for foodservice items, which will then be available once a consumer enters a drive-thru following their fill-up. “It’s high-tech, it’s efficient and it’s multipurpose,” stated Lawshe. “It takes cares of ‘fueling’ requirements, both on a vehicle and personal basis.” While holograms are expected to be one way for customers to both order food and ask general questions at the c-store forecourt, they won’t be the only way. In the future, consumers knowing they are about to visit their local convenience store will be able to place a foodservice order as soon as they leave their home and hop into their car. “Customers can tap their Google Glass, Apple Watch or whatever the technology is in the future, and can talk to an automatic ordering system,” said Lawshe. “For example, you can say you want a skinny latte with caramel and whipped cream
on top and then say that you will arrive at the store in two minutes. Because of Apple Pay and other payment technologies already in place, you can pull right up at the drive-thru and via RFID, the store will know who you are, what you ordered and will have it ready for you. It’s the ultimate convenience.” In addition, if that same coffee customer says he or she will arrive at the c-store in two minutes, but the store’s GPS confirms the drive will actually take three minutes, the computer at the store will ask an
GRASS-FILLED PARKING SPOTS
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CANOPY FEATURING SOLAR PANELS, WIND ENERGY COLLECTION AND WATER COLLECTION
employee to have the beverage perfectly prepared in three minutes instead. AT THE PUMP
Traditional petroleum is unlikely to be the only offering at the pump in a few years’ time. Compressed natural gas and varied ethanol blends, such as E15 and E85, are already available at several gas stations. Lawshe expects this growth to continue, with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and electric vehicles becoming more formidable competitors. Current drive-up electric vehicle chargers could be replaced by designated parking spaces that offer wireless electric charging from a location on the ground. Hence, electric vehicle owners will not even need to plug into an electric charger to receive a full charge. Vegetable oil and biodiesel could also become prevalent alternative fuels in the market. NEW ARCHITECTURE
Aside from the different “fuels” offered, the c-store forecourt will look dramatically different in the future thanks to environmentally friendly changes. Canopies are expected to feature solar panels, wind energy collection, and water collection using sustainably sourced materials. Energy efficiency will be a main focus, utilizing currently popular LED lighting.
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Landscaping will be dramatically different, too. Fuel emissions will be offset in part with the use of reinforcement technology for grass-filled parking spaces, according to Lawshe. Walls will have climbing and potted plants to further protect the environment and for beautification purposes. “With architecture comes two key words: sustainability and green,” he said. “We believe c-stores will be totally sustainable. They will be energy-producing and not energy-consuming locations in the future.” These new forecourt attributes are not so far off. In fact, this new design is available today, although Lawshe acknowledged the current cost of installation is expensive. “But in the future, this [design] will be automatic,” he revealed. “Costs always tend to come down.” Of course, it would be foolish to believe every innovation will be incorporated as quickly as expected, but the future of the forecourt is certainly fascinating. “As a designer, we love the future,” Lawshe concluded. “It’s something to embrace.” CSN WHAT’S YOUR STORE OF THE FUTURE VISION? Share your thoughts on Convenience Store News’ social media channels. Twitter: twitter.com/CSNewsOnline Facebook: facebook.com/conveniencestorenews LinkedIn: bit.ly/csn-linkedin-group
The Connected Consumer
Shoppers will plug in to c-store products and services in entirely new ways By Don Longo
K. So there are no “Jetsons”-style flying cars. No human colonies on the moon. And no transporter system like the one Captain Kirk uses to beam down from the Starship Enterprise to some far away planet. However, if “practical futurist” Michael Rogers is to be believed, the impact of technological advancements will change the world significantly in the nottoo-distant future. In fact, by the early 2020s, Rogers predicts Americans will be living in an almost Matrixlike networked, virtual world. “We are just at the beginning of the virtualization of America and the world,” Rogers said at a Future of Technology workshop at last month’s NACS Show in Las Vegas. “More and more of what we are doing is going into the cyberworld. We are building a layer of information that sits atop the real world. You’ll be surprised at how much can move into the virtual world.” Convenience Store News spoke with Rogers and several technology exhibitors at the show to get their visions of how consumers will interact with convenience stores 10 or 20 years from now. “Customers will continue to look for convenience and c-store owners will continue to access real-time information from anywhere in the world,” said Sergey Gorlov, CEO of Petrosoft Inc., which used the 2014 NACS Show to officially launch an all-in-one point-ofsale system called SmartPOS. Gorlov, whose company also operates more than 20 convenience stores in the Pittsburgh area, is uniquely positioned to talk about both retailer needs and technology development. He believes customers’ definition of convenience will evolve based on their tastes and lifestyle, which will be reflected in their demand for c-store product items (inventory) and services — which are continuing to grow. “For the c-store owner, what will change is what
Connected car technology will provide a new way for consumers to interact with convenience stores.
real-time information is needed across the supply chain from internal data sources to maximize their profits,” continued Gorlov. “Responsiveness will be key as customers’ tastes evolve and as c-store owners look to take advantage of the ever-shrinking windows of opportunity.” Today’s increasingly networked world is just accelerating these changes. Rogers believes changes will come about faster than most people think. There’s a new exponential theory of change called Metcalf’s Law that says the value of a network grows as a square of the number of people attached to it. “We’ve seen this network effect disrupt whole industries,” he said, citing Uber’s impact on the taxi industry, Airbnb’s influence on the travel industry and the impact of peer-to-peer online lending clubs on the banking industry. The biggest “networked” impact on retailing, though, will be the fact that consumers will always be connected to the Internet. That connection will take place through their bodies, clothes and automobiles. Wearable technology is here already. Advances in curved OLED (organic light emitting diode) screens will make watch/bracelet computers powered by body
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heat almost commonplace. Google Glass is already positioning itself as the next evolution of the cell phone, said Rogers. Networked automobiles that drive themselves will change the way consumers drive, park, refuel, and make food and other purchases. Rogers has already tried out a prototype of the Google car and thinks automotive vehicles connected by Wi-Fi and dedicated to car-to-car and car-to-network will be coming in 2017. Enrique (Rick) Sales, president of Abierto Networks, a Maine-based company that specializes in digital marketing solutions and high-speed payments for the c-store and retail petroleum industry, told CSNews he’s convinced that despite all the technological changes, the convenience channel will always be a brick-and-mortar channel. He pointed to work being done by SAP in partnership with Toyota to develop the connected car. SAP, Toyota InfoTechnology Center USA (Toyota ITC) and VeriFone piloted a solution, which will help to dramatically simplify drivers’ fueling experience, Sales said. With the prototype, consumers can use a one-touch, one-screen solution to navigate to the closest gas station, authorize automatic payment electronically and receive personalized coupons. So even if cars aren’t literally driving themselves, they will still provide a new way for consumers to interact with convenience stores/gas stations. For example, using a touchscreen on the car’s dashboard, the driver will be able to pull into a gas station and
Google is developing a self-driving car. The latest prototype had neither a steering wheel nor pedals.
authorize a transaction at the pump. In addition, drivers will receive personalized promotions in their car based on their user profile — if they are part of a loyalty program, so much the better. The driver will also be able to use the car’s touchscreen to purchase additional items from the convenience store and to even make payment from the driver’s seat. According to Nielsen’s Connected Life Report, of the 44 percent of future auto intenders who plan to purchase a new car within the next two years, 39 percent are very likely to purchase a connected car with built-in features. Sixty percent of these future auto intenders say they’d like a connected car because they want to experience emerging technologies, 58 percent feel it will provide entertainment to passengers while on the road, and 43 percent say it will boost their productivity while they’re on the road. The rise in connectivity options — whether for getting directions or checking engine diagnostics — also presents a unique opportunity for advertisers and marketers to reach consumers in the comfort of their own cockpits, the How Important Is Connected Car Technology to Consumers? (Among connected car users who use safety alert features) Nielsen report noted. Gorlov of Petrosoft concluded: Very Important Somewhat Important Neutral Not Very Important “When you consider that personal wearable devices have sensors and Automatic crash notification and a car has an average of 60 to 100 64% 25% 8% 2% emergency roadside assistance sensors, how a customer chooses to Internet-enabled navigation 58% 30% 10% 2% connect the data that these devices Safety alerts 3% 51% 32% 13% are collecting to c-store systems provides a wide window of opportunity 51% 32% 12% 2% Vehicle maintenance/repair diagnostics for the customer, c-store operator 47% 32% 16% 4% Using your car as a wireless hotspot and the industry’s supply chain.” 45% 38% 12% 3% Driving analytics As illustrated in many of the Store of the Future prototypes 45% 33% 16% 4% Entertainment connectivity presented in this special edition, Remote control capabilities 42% 39% 15% 3% technology will be a key enabler, 35% 43% 17% 5% Communication providing the digital agility needed to survive in the ever-changing landIn 2014, of connected car users who utilize the safety alerts feature, 51 percent said this technology is very important. scape of the c-store industry. CSN Source: Nielsen
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