INDUSTRY CALENDAR SEE PAGE 30
PRODUCT HIGHLIGHT: Buc-ee’s Opens World’s Largest C-Store in New Braunfels, Texas SEE PAGE 4
Gas Stations Prepare to Offer E15, the New Ethanol Blend
CAR CARE PRODUCTS
SEE PAGE 21
SEE PAGE 23
C onvenienceRETAILER Volume 5, Number 4
High Gas Prices Force C-Store Retailers to Adapt
transformed. Today there are waters replete with vitamins, energizing ingredients and added electrolytes, serving to invigorate and nourish the consumer and maximize hydration. The functional beverage market is traditionally broken down into four separate categories: Hydration beverages are made with a panoply of vitamins, minerals and botanical extracts designed for keeping active
Gas prices may possibly have already reached their peak for 2012, but the damage is done. As consumers throughout the country have sought to alter their lifestyles in response to the recent explosion in fuel prices, many convenience stores are reporting that they are seeing a marked drop in total overall revenue as a result. And, it is becoming increasingly apparent to many convenience retailers that they must alter the way they do business if they are going to successfully adapt to a new retail landscape, where fuel is not necessarily the singular driver of consumer traffic. Summer has always been a vital time to the overall success of the convenience store industry, as the summer road trip season brings a stream of travelers into stores. Fuel customers, stopping to fill up their tanks, typically go into stores to fill up on snacks, drinks and souvenirs. However, in a recent survey, 54 percent of those questioned reported that they are planning to travel less this summer due to an increase in fuel prices. In addition, for those who do choose to go on road trips in 2012, high
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BY LUCAS WITMAN
Thirsty Consumers Embracing Beverages That Offer Added Benefits to the Body For those who remember a time when beverages served merely to quench one’s thirst, today’s beverage market may seem a strange and exotic landscape of products designed to accomplish an everexpanding laundry list of personal benefits. Drinks sold today are purported to do everything from replace meals to prevent hangovers to help imbibers lose weight. Even water, once the most basic of beverage choices, has now been elevated and BY LUCAS WITMAN
Mobile POS Technology C-Store Grab and Go Changing Retail Foods Becoming More Shopping Experience Diverse, Profitable Perhaps as recently as a year ago, seeing someone pay for their groceries or dry cleaning by simply tapping their phone at the register would have elicited a surprised reaction. However, there has recently been an explosion of interest among credit card companies, technology companies, retailers and consumers in developing and promoting this type of mobile payment technology. Today, Google Wallet, Isis Mobile Wallet, Mastercard Paypass Wallet and a growing panoply of additional mobile payment services are taking the retail industry by storm. Despite the growing ubiquity of this technology, however, many retailers in this BY LUCAS WITMAN
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Within the convenience store industry, grab and go foods are becoming an increasingly invaluable revenue source, compelling retailers to diversify and innovate their food offerings in order to better meet consumer demand. According to data released by the National Association of Convenience Stores, Continued on Page 20
FEATURES SEE PAGES 10--20 n Kerusso Proves Consumer Demand for Christian-Themed Products n Hoffco Brands Faces Everyday Challenges of Electronics Evolution
MARKETWATCH SEE PAGE 24-26 n SVM Cards Launches FuelCircle Gasoline Rewards Program n CITGO Introduces Loyalty Bucks Program
TOP TECH SEE PAGE 28 n Acumera Provides Valuable IT Tools for Multi-Site Retailers n MICROS myCreations Software Ensures Foodservices Quality, Safety
PRODUCT FEATURES SEE PAGE 29 n Nestlé Crunch Girl Scout Candy Bars n Heineken Indio n Arma Energy SNX www.convenienceretailer.net
NEXT ISSUE: NACS Show Coverage BUYERS GUIDE: 3La Palina El Diario KB
Cigars and Cigarettes
sure bets Buc-ee’s Opens World’s Largest C-Store in New Braunfels, Texas
A burgeoning and distinctive brand, Texas-based Buc-ee’s has developed a strong reputation within the convenience store industry for its fiercely loyal clientele. Enthusiastic shoppers flock to the retail chain to get their hands on the store’s renowned private label jerky and snacks. And the chain may be the only one in the industry to house what have become “destination” restrooms to some, famously clean and well-appointed. Many of Buc-ee’s customers even express their loyalty to the brand by wearing tshirts and other items of apparel festooned with the chain’s immediately recognizable bucktoothed beaver logo. Fans of Buc-ee’s now have the opportunity to experience the brand in an entirely new and exciting way, as the chain recently opened what it is calling the world’s largest convenience store in New Braunfels, Texas. The New Braunfels Buc-ee’s is truly remarkable in size. Described by some as similar to shopping at a Target-sized convenience store, the new retail loca-
tion occupies a 68,000 square-foot building off Interstate 35, just Northeast of San Antonio. Upon approaching Buc-ee’s New Braunfels location, customers immediately know they are in for something special. This is because, when driving up to the movie-theater-sized building, customers make their way past an astonishing 60 gas pumps. In addition to typical convenience store offerings, Buc-ee’s offers its customers a variety of products unique to the chain, including everything from deer feeders to fudge. The New Braunfel’s Buc-ee’s even includes a farmer’s market, a section for hunting equipment and an original selection of available art. The New Braunfel’s Buc-ee’s is the 26th location in the growing convenience store chain. Buc-ee’s opened its first location in Lake Jackson, Texas in 1982. The chain’s newest location is certainly a feather in the cap of a convenience store company AAA once referred to as “the theme park of gas stations.” n
Lil’ Drug Store Leads as Top Personal Care Product Provider to C-Stores
Lil’ Drug Store Products continues to be the leading health and beauty care product supplier to the convenience channel, according to data recently released by healthcare research and consulting company Symphony IRI. With a diverse portfolio of over-the-counter drugs, personal care items and exclusive brands, Lil’ Drug Store Products takes pride in providing industry leadership, innovative products, impeccable service and data-driven solutions to the challenges of this complex category. “HBC represents less than two percent of total in-store sales, but high margin potential creates a significant opportunity. As industry leaders, we are committed to providing data-driven tools and expertise to help retailers manage their HBC set effectively and efficiently,” said Paul Rossberger, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Lil’ Drug Store Products. “Lil’ Drug Store Products’ unique approach to HBC is backed by 37 years of experience, research and analysis to ensure that the right products are on the shelves at the right prices for consumers, distributors and convenience retailers. We are thrilled that our customers consistently 4
validate our recommendations and are experiencing increases in total sales and profits for their entire HBC category.” Lil’ Drug Store Products attributes much of its success to offering dependable products, including a successful line of private label over-the-counter drug items. Manufacturer-based product outages and a longstruggling economy have amplified the demand for conveniently available, quality private labels. This is evidenced by an unprecedented 11 percent growth in convenience store HBC private label sales in 2011. This surge was driven by the Lil’ Drug Brand in particular, which doubled its sales volume from the previous year. Lil’ Drug Store continues to expand its selection of like-item national brand equivalents to provide alternatives for consumers seeking relief. “Our retailers count on us to anticipate the unanticipated, make convenience convenient and enhance their customers’ shopping experience with speed and ease at the time of need, “said Rossberger. “With the expansion of our sales team and unwavering commitment to innovation, Lil’ Drug Store Products continues to lead the industry in sales and service.” n
Pringles Supports USO with Free Cans for U.S. Troops
Pringles recently teamed up with the United Service Organizations to honor the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces with a “Taste of Home.” Pringles delivered more than 43,000 free cans of Pringles to USO Centers to be distributed to troops deployed around the world in appreciation of their service. The Pringles were produced in the USA at the Jackson, Tenn. plant, where employees have many family members and friends serving in the military. “Providing a ‘Taste of Home’… is our way of letting the troops know that we are thinking about them and appreciate all they do for us every day,” said Rob Hite, Pringles Shopper Marketing Manager on Proctor & Gamble’s Walmart Customer Team. Specially wrapped Pringles cans are now available at retail stores across the country. The company’s large displays will highlight how customers can participate in supporting the troops by going to the USO website at www.uso.org. “This campaign is especially important to the USO for two reasons,” said USO SVP and Chief Development Officer Kelli Seely. “Not only does it provide our troops
far from home and their loved ones with a taste of home, but also these Pringles have been made by people with a personal connection to our service men and women. It’s a true gift from the heart and there’s no better way to let our heroes know just how grateful we are for their service and sacrifice.” Pringles acknowledges the sacrifices and commitment required to ensure our freedom and the company appreciates the dedication of the men and women who serve, and the families and communities which support them Thanks to the USO, they will have a “Taste of Home” this summer. The USO lifts the spirits of America’s troops and their families millions of times each year at hundreds of places worldwide. It is a private, nonprofit organization, not a government agency, and thus it relies on the generosity of its volunteers and donors. In addition to individual donors, the USO is supported by a wide number of corporate sponsors, including convenience retail chains Kangaroo Express, 7-Eleven, CVS Pharmacy, Southwest Convenience Stores, Wawa and others. n
C onvenienceRETAILER Lee M. Oser CEO and Editor-in-Chief Lyle Sapp Senior Associate Publisher Director of Sales Kate Seymour Senior Associate Publisher Kim Forrester Paul Harris Associate Publisher Lorrie Baumann Editorial Director Lucas Witman Editor Rocelle Aragon Associate Editor JoEllen Lowry Contributing Editor Monica Boland Art Director Yasmine Brown Graphic Designer Ruth Haltiwanger Selene Pinuelas Traffic Manager Clarissa Alvarez Angela Bosso Lynn Hilton Adriana Inzunza Account Managers Enrico Cecchi European Sales Convenience Retailer is published by Oser Communications Group ©2012. BPA Worldwide Member since June 22, 2009. All rights reserved. Executive and editorial offices at: 1877 N. Kolb Road, Tucson, AZ 85715 520.721.1300/Fax: 520.721.6300 www.oser.com www.convenienceretailer.net European offices located at Lungarno Benvenuto Cellini, 11, 50125 Florence, Italy.
sure bets ®
Metro Electronic Cigarette Launches Five New Products
With the aim of being the leading e-cigarette on the market, Metro®Electronic Cigarette just announced that they have added five new products to their already extensive line of product accessories, all of which deliver a very customizable vaping experience. Stores were enthusiastic about the new products and began pre-ordering them as early as March, well ahead of their official mid-May release, which only shows their confidence in the success of these new products. First, Metro is proud to introduce their Re-Charge Pack. The Re-Charge Pack comes fully equipped with two rechargeable batteries, and, unlike other cases out there, this one has built-in foldaway prongs. The built-in foldaway prongs make for hassle-free charging, requiring no additional cables or parts to charge. Just plug it directly into the wall. The ReCharge Pack is also capable of holding up to three cartridges, one battery and one full size e-cig, at the same time. The rechargeable internal battery of this personal power case allows you to charge while plugged in or on-the-go.
Metro has also introduced an even more affordable version of this new ppc called the Charge Pack. The Charge Pack also comes equipped with built-in foldaway prongs, but only one battery and does not come with an internal battery for on-thego charging. Other recently introduced products creating a buzz are the new Designer Packs, offered in three popular themes. The Chick Stick Designer Pack includes one pink and white themed, plastic secure-clasp case, one pink swirl rechargeable e-cigarette battery and one USB charger/adapter. The Camo Designer Pack includes one camouflage-themed, plastic secure-clasp case, one camo rechargeable battery and one USB charger/adapter. And lastly, the Midnight Designer Pack includes one midnight blue and black themed, plastic secure-clasp case, one glossy black rechargeable battery and one USB charger/adapter. All of these packs offer a new way to enhance the vaping experience. With cartridges sold separately, each pack is completely customizable. The user is able to
choose a flavor and strength of cartridge and does not have to choose from predetermined packaged options. This is very beneficial for the retailer as well, since it ensures the movement of product on the shelves. With every pack sold, at least one package of cartridges will be sold in conjunction. “We have experienced an extremely enthusiastic response to the Designer Packs and Re-Charge Pack. Since we first announced they were soon coming, in January at the Consumer Electronics Show, customers had been asking on a weekly basis when they would be arriving,” said Jessica Miltier, Internet Marketing Specialist for METRO Electronic Cigarette. “Since the release, they have been generating much more attention than we had anticipated. But that is definitely an added bonus.” All the new METRO products are available in stores across the nation as well as available online a www.metroecigs.com. n
Frito-Lay Expands Smartfood Brand of Healthy Snacks
PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay North America division recently announced the expansion of its Smartfood brand to include popped chips, popcorn and puffed corn, each to be marketed under the Smartfood Selects name. Smartfood Selects snacks are made with all-natural ingredients and include no artificial flavors, artificial preservatives or monosodium glutamate. To help busy consumers make informed choices, the front of each package features nutrition icons highlighting calories per serving, saturated fat, sodium and sugar. Select items carry a whole grain stamp helping customers to clearly identify
which products offer at least eight grams of whole grains. “Consumers have come to expect added value from the products they buy, and snacks are no exception. Great taste is a must, but consumers also demand smart options,” said Daniel Naor, Senior Vice President of Growth Ventures for FritoLay North America. “Smartfood Selects offer a variety of light-textured and airy snacks with smart combinations of herbs and spices, and all-natural ingredients.” The new line of Smartfood Selects snacks features a smart combination of select ingredients and delicious flavors. New products include Parmesan Herb,
Buffalo Cheddar and Cinnamon Brown Sugar Popcorn, Sour Cream Onion Puffed Corn, and Italian Herb Multigrain, Cinnamon Brown Sugar Multigrain, Feta Herb Hummus and Garlic Tomato Basil Hummus Popped Chips. Smartfood Selects Popcorn is available in 6-oz. bags, Smartfood Selects Puffed Corn is available in 4-oz. bags and Smartfood Selects Popped Chips are available in 3.25-oz. bags. All varieties have a suggested retail price of $3.29. The new product line will be sold at retail locations nationwide. For more information on the new, great-tasting Smartfood Selects products, visit www.smartfood.com. n
Vienna Beef Cooks Up Mobile Marketing Initiative
Vibes, a mobile marketing and technology company, recently announced it has beefed up the mobile marketing campaigns for nationally recognized Vienna Beef, maker of Chicago's classic hot dog. The campaign, which began in April 2010, has successfully enabled Vienna Beef food service vendors to participate at no cost to them in the Vienna Beef mobile marketing program, which provides vendor-specific offers to a growing and active mobile database of subscribers. Vibes’ mobile marketing platform, Catapult, powers the initiative, delivering targeted promotions and mobile coupons directly into the hands of opted-in customers in an effort to drive sales and foot traffic for both Vienna Beef and participating food service providers. To date, Vienna 6
Beef has sent out more than 600,000 coupons on behalf of their vendors. “We are always looking for new and innovative ways to help our loyal Vienna Beef vendors be successful, and mobile provides a unique opportunity to engage consumers in a way other channels simply cannot. It’s more personal,” said Carrie Bodman, Marketing Coordinator for Vienna Beef. “Mobile is the perfect way for us to help our vendors reach out to their customers with exclusive and personalized offers that drive traffic to their establishments. For us, it is a great way to build brand loyalty while we promote Vienna Beef on a broad but highly targeted level.” Promoted via in-store signage, the mobile campaign allows users to text in to a
short code and receive a discount that’s redeemable at a specific restaurant or vendor. Users are also prompted to opt-in to a Vienna Beef mobile database where they can receive exclusive news and updates from the company. “Mobile has proven to be one of the most powerful marketing channels available because it allows marketers to connect brands with customers at just the right time and at just the right place,” said Jack Philbin, Co-Founder and President of Vibes. “What Vienna Beef is doing is unique because they are providing the vendors that sell their products with an innovative marketing channel they may not have otherwise considered or had access to on their own.” n
Crunch Pak Introduces New Sliced Apple Snacks
The founders of Crunch Pak, the leading maker of cleaned, ready-to-eat fresh apple slices, began their business with the belief that people would enjoy apples more often if they were easier to eat. This belief has made Crunch Pak the largest producer of sliced apples in the country today. Crunch Pak recently introduced a new line of low-calorie single-serve produce snack items called Dipperz. Crunch Pak Dipperz are available in four combinations: sweet or tart apples with caramel dip, sweet apples with chocolate dip and baby peeled carrots with ranch dip. Each Dipperz snack item is just 80 calories or less. In addition, Crunch Pak is preparing to debut an exciting new line of sliced apple products called Flavorz. Through a proprietary method, Flavorz sliced apples are infused with the flavor of other fruits. The texture and eating qualities of the apple are not changed. However, Crunch Pak Flavorz sliced apples feature the flavors of peach and mango, strawberry vanilla and grape. In addition, Flavorz will be sold in packages featuring Disney characters, including Phineas & Ferb, Mickey Mouse and friends, and Disney princesses. The Flavorz line was created in conjunction with Disney Consumer Products and meets the strict nutritional guidelines created by Disney, ensuring that they are nutritionally balanced for kids. Located in the heart of Washington state apple country, Crunch Pak utilizes the perfect recipe of vitamin C and calcium to prevent spoilage and maintain the crispness of an apple after it’s sliced. In addition, Crunch Pak’s breathable bags allow the sliced apples to receive the right mixture of oxygen while continuously emitting carbon dioxide. This combination ensures that the apples maintain optimum quality during their transportation to market. Crunch Pak continues to innovate to assure stable shelf life for maximum freshness and selling opportunity. The company’s research and development department is constantly working on new product and package innovation that will meet the needs of health conscious consumers. In addition to its sliced apple products, Crunch Pak also sells a variety of other healthy produce snacks, including Just Grapes, Crunch Pak carrots, and Snackerz fruit snack trays. n
sure bets Activate Unveils Updated Beverage Product Line, New Packaging Design Activate, the innovative, nutrient-enhanced water beverage that makes it easy and convenient for consumers to live a healthy, active lifestyle, recently announced the launch of a new portfolio of products. Activate has reformulated its full line of beverages for a naturally enhanced flavor that includes electrolytes and a common blend of Vitamins A, B5, B12, C and E, along with other functional ingredients. Activate drinks will continue to use allnatural Stevia as their sweetener, with zero grams of sugar and zero calories. Through these innovations, Activate is working to enhance its flavor profile to further position the product as a satisfying water option that combines great performance with great taste.
The company’s new product portfolio includes Activate Balance (promoting overall health), Defend (boosting immunity), Rebound (promoting rehydration), Beauty, (providing skin cell support), Deft (supporting overall cell health) and Charged (an energizing drink). “After revolutionizing the beverage landscape with our proprietary cap design, we continue to invest in product innovation in order to better serve our active customers, who are looking for simple, convenient solutions to help them get activated,” said Activate co-founder Anders Eisner. In addition to these product changes, Activate has also teamed up with design house Pearlfisher New York to create new
packaging that helps consumers easily identify the brand’s point of difference and determine which variety meets their active lifestyle. The updated packaging also features enhanced cap instructions, a clear in-
gredient panel, high-impact graphics and a dynamic design that pops on shelves. To learn more about Activate, for a store locator or to purchase online, please visit www.activatedrinks.com. n
Speedway Ranked Number One Convenience Store Chain of 2012
According to the second annual Harris Poll EquiTrend Brand of the Year rankings, Midwest-based retail chain Speedway is the nation’s number one convenience store brand of 2012. The chain beat out six other convenience store chains for the honor, including runners up Arco, am/pm and 7-Eleven. Club store chain Costco was ranked as the number one gasoline retailer of the year, followed by Hess Gasoline, Shell and Sam’s Club. Consumer research company Harris Interactive employs an academically vetted polling process in determining its annual
rankings of the top brands in more than 125 different categories. Winners are chosen based on documented consumer familiarity with the brand, as well as the quality with which the brand is perceived and the strength of consumers’ connections to the company. Headquartered in Enon, Ohio, Speedway currently operates more than 1,350 stores in Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. In terms of number of locations, the company ranks as the fourth largest convenience store chain in the nation. According to Harris Interactive, it was Speedway’s
Get What You ‘Crave’ at 7-Eleven
Upstate Niagara Cooperative has announced that their innovative new brand of chocolate milk called Crave will now be available at 7-Eleven stores in select markets across the Untied States. The ultra-cold, ultra-bold and incredibly rich chocolate flavor of Crave was created by Upstate Niagara Cooperative, a family of dairy farmers in Western New York State. Since its inception, Crave chocolate milk has been hooking consumers with its flavor and convenience. And with its innovative aluminum Frost Flow bottle, Crave chills incredibly fast and stays colder, longer, creating a frosty taste experience like no other. It is this innovative bottle that has been especially appealing to 7-Eleven retailers, due to its unusual ability to store the product at room temperature. Because of the Frost Flow bottle as well as Upstate Niagara’s unique pasteurization process, Crave is a shelf-stable dairy product that is economical to ship, easy to store and more effective to merchandise than any other dairy product on the market. Making the product even harder to refuse, Upstate 8
Niagara Cooperative is enticing store managers with a free six unit fill with their first order through McLane. Crave will soon be available in more than 7,000 7-Eleven stores in the United States, sold in single serve 12-oz. bottles in both Original Chocolate and Strawberry Chocolate flavors. For more information about Crave, visit www.icravemilk.com. n
top scores for quality and customer purchase consideration that landed the company in the number one spot. This is despite the fact that 7-Eleven received the highest score for brand familiarity. Speedway is no stranger to the Harris Poll Brand of the Year rankings. Last year the company was named the number one gasoline retailer in the nation. This year marks the first time that Costco was included in the rankings. Speedway continues to sit among the top rated fuel purveyors of 2012 as well, this year taking the number six spot. n
Pepperidge Farm Packaging Recognized for Innovation and Sustainability
Pepperidge Farm Inc., a division of Campbell Soup Company, was recently honored with two of the packaging industry’s most prestigious awards: the DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation and an Ameristar award from the Institute of Packaging Professionals. Both awards recognize the company’s Deli Flats thin rolls and Goldfish breads for innovative packaging design, sustainability and waste reduction. The new packaging for these products reduced the use of materials by 65 percent. In addition, the more compact package has the added benefit that 25 percent more product can be shipped in the same shipping unit, resulting in reduced transportation costs and an overall smaller carbon footprint. “When we first created this packaging, our goal was to differentiate our products and create a unique consumer shopping experience in the bread aisle, and we did just that,” said Eva Peters, Director of Packaging Development at Pepperidge Farm. “We continued to innovate our original design, with a goal to make it more sustainable, reduce costs and increase manufacturing automation. These awards
recognize how our latest designs deliver on all of those objectives and then some.” The new package designs are made of flexible film lamination that feature improved graphics and are unique to the bakery aisle. They provide excellent seal strength, resist tears and the tear tape provides the benefit of tamper evidence. They also have a re-sealable pressure-sensitive seal instead of a zipper, providing consumers with a package that is easy to open and easy to reclose. According to the DuPont Awards panel, who recognized Pepperidge Farm with a gold level honor, “This is an outstanding example of how innovation can be simple and affordable for consumers, while making a splash on store shelves.” Now in its 24th year, the DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation is the industry’s longest-running, global, independently judged celebration of innovation and collaboration throughout the value chain. Each year, an esteemed panel awards diamond, gold or silver honors based on “excellence” ratings in one or all of three categories: Innovation, Sustainability and Cost/Waste Reduction. n
features Hoffco Brands Facing Everyday Challenges of Electronics Evolution, Attracting New Customers Scott Robins, Vice President of Hoffco Brands recently spoke to Convenience Retailer about recent developments with the company and Hoffco’s plans for the future.
lescence and keeps our customers happy. We feel that our partnerships formed over the last year with companies like Mercury Retail Services and Sunshine Marketing have poised us to be on top in 2012.
pastel colors. Some of the accessories we offer are rapid glowing car chargers, 3-way car/wall/USB combo chargers, Apple® data cables and mini-purse cell phone cases, with many more to come.
SR: Hoffco is an aggressive, and very much a ‘take care of our customer’ company. We put great focus on product quality, display, point of purchase design, innovation and of course, customer service. Without customers, we don’t have a business, so they are always on our mind when making decisions on how to move forward.
SR: An ongoing challenge that we face every day is the evolution of electronics. We have to make sure we are ahead of the flow and waiting for those changes before they show up. One major challenge is being ready for power-hungry devices. Smartphone and tablet sales are growing rapidly, and we need to be ready to provide smart, convenient and affordable solutions to those users.
SR: A significant event would be the consolidation of products. As technology evolves, more and more products become obsolete, meaning we have to refresh our active programs to meet the present and future demands. By anticipating those demands, we were able to adjust our existing programs and migrate to a more consolidated program that eliminates future obso-
SR: Yes. We recently unveiled a new program of cell phone accessories we like to consider ‘game-changing’ to the industry. We call it LadyPower™. We found that there is a vast untouched demographic out there that no one is reaching: the female market. Women love to shop and love a variety of choices. Hence, we molded our program to cover the necessities of the cell phone category and presented them in
SR: The acquiring of the Amp Energy™ license has brought us great success in convenient stores over the past few years. We also believe 100 percent that our customers are the key component to our success. We hope to continue to grow our customer base, having them as our partners to increase everyone’s overall business. We also attribute much of this success to our sales, marketing and warehouse team. Without them, there is no way we would look as good as we do out in the field. With the resources we have, we can bring any ideas to the table.
CR: Can you tell our readers a little bit about your company?
CR: What was the most significant event that affected your company over the past year?
CR: What do you anticipate to be your greatest challenge in the year ahead?
CR: Are you planning on introducing any new products in the near future?
CR: To what do you attribute your company’s success?
CR: How can readers find out more about your company?
SR: They can visit www.hoffcobrands.com for images and information about all our product lines. They can also Like’ us on Facebook to get the latest updates on new products at www.facebook.com/ hoffcobrands. n
Retailers Increasingly Realizing Benefits of Reaching Out to Booming Hispanic Consumer Market
The Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies recently released a comprehensive study revealing a positive connection between corporate marketing to the Hispanic population and revenue growth for consumer packaged goods and CPG-based retail companies. Data collected for the study reveals a significant difference in the revenue growth rate attained by CPG companies that devote more attention to the Hispanic market compared to those corporations that focus less on this population. “This new information is compelling because the data indicates that the Hispanic market can be a big determinant in corporate success,” said Roberto Orci, AHAA Chair and CEO of Acento Advertising. “CPG companies not only want to gain market share among their competitors, but they also want to provide growth and stability for their investors. Investing in Hispanic marketing is a clear strategy in achieving that twofold objective.” The VHM study analyzed the top 500 overall U.S. advertisers between 2006 10
and 2010. It found, with a 95 percent confidence level, that among CPG brands, dedicating marketing resources to the booming Hispanic consumer segment has resulted in as much as a third of these brands’ overall revenue growth. “The connection is clear and very significant,” said Cristina Garcia, Professor of Statistics at the University of Southern California and the developer of the study’s methodology. “The study found evidence that the proportion of resources a company, irrelevant of market category, puts behind Hispanic consumers is an essential driver for sustainable growth performance.” Accounting for 17 percent of the U.S. population and boasting $1.2 trillion in buying power, Hispanics are an undeniably important consumer population. Not only do they represent 56 percent of the U.S. population growth between 2000 and 2010, but research shows that this group spends more time and money per trip to the grocery store than the national average. They bring more family members with them to shop, and they also
tend to be more loyal to specific brands, with a lesser emphasis on price point. Boasting much larger households (3.8 persons per household compared to 2.5 for non-Hispanic households), Hispanics also have an annual household formation rate six times faster than that of non-Hispanic households (2.5 percent compared to 0.4 percent). In fact, according to a recent study by Credit Suisse, over the next 10 years, the food-at-home expenditure of Hispanic households is expected to grow at a 5.7 percent average annual rate compared to just 2.5 percent for non-Hispanic households. This makes Hispanic marketing a strategic imperative for CPG companies and their retail counterparts. What the AHAA study concluded is that effective growth leaders consistently put higher focus on creating solid relationships with the valuable Hispanic consumer base. Conversely, CPG underperformers tend to overlook Hispanic growth opportunities, typically resulting in sluggish growth, and by consequence, slower value creation to their shareholders. n
Kerusso Proves Consumer Demand for ChristianThemed Products
Already the leading supplier of Christian-themed apparel, jewelry and accessories, Kerusso® has recently added to its success with the addition of Tru Witness™ to its family of brands. Market research and public surveys, such as one recently conducted by Newsweek, indicate that eight out of every ten Americans say they are Christian. This has helped drive consumer interest in the Tru Witness line of products as Kerusso continues to expand it into the mainstream convenience store market. Addressing the unique needs of the convenience store market, the success of Tru Witness has been representative of Kerusso’s overall track record marketing Christian messaging and lifestyle products. Since the company’s launch in 1987, Kerusso has shipped more than 14 million t-shirts. Kerusso first entered the jewelry and gift market with Faith Gear in the 1990s. Shipping more than one million pieces, Faith Gear sales are comparable to Kerusso’s “Top 20” t-shirt volume. Building on their early successes, Kerusso created the Tru Witness 10, a leading-edge merchandising program. The unique Tru Witness display serves to maximize retail sales, while occupying less than three square feet of space. It allows retailers to offer fresh products and add new dollars to the bottom line without doing any store renovations. Evidence shows that a guaranteed product exchange program with in-store merchandising and inventory service helps a company ensure success in the retail field. Barry S. Olken, a representative of Petro Shopping Centers, said, “(Kerusso products have) been a success from day one. Our public loves the Christian theme and quality. The display is a great way to show the product without a lot of actual handling of the shirts.” Learn more about Kerusso at the company’s website at www.kerusso.com or call 800.424.0943 for more information on adding Kerusso products to your retail space. n
features NACS Show Ranked Among 2011’s Largest U.S. Trade Shows According to the Trade Show News Network, an online resource for those in the trade show industry, the 2011 annual National Association of Convenience Stores Show in Chicago was among the top 50 largest trade shows of the year. TSNN recently unveiled its list of the Top 250 U.S. Trade Shows of 2011, and the October NACS Show sits in position number 47. According to the TSNN listing, “The annual NACS Show continues to be the most comprehensive event for convenience and fuel retailing professionals.” The TSNN listing states that last year’s NACS Show brought 1,333 exhibitors and 9,953 show attendees to McCormick Place in Chicago. However, it is the physical size of the NACS Show at 387,600 square feet that ultimately earned the show its high ranking on the TSNN list. In terms of the
number of exhibitors present, the NACS show ranks even higher, as the 27th largest show in the country. The annual NACS Show made its debut on the trade show scene more than 50 years ago in 1961. The show has gained a national reputation as the premier location for people in the convenience store industry to discover new products and services available to them as well as to share strategies for increasing their sales, building their customer base and building their brand. This year’s NACS Show is scheduled to take place from October 7-10 in Las Vegas. More information about the show can be found at www.nacsonline.com/nacsshow. The entire TSNN listing of the Top 250 U.S. Trade Shows can be read at www.tsnn.com/datasite-us. n
C-Stores Leading Channel for Off-Premise Beer Sales in 2011 The Washington D.C.-based Beer Institute recently released new data showing that beer sales in convenience stores rose by 1.3 percent in 2011, accounting for over $16.7 billion in sales. In fact, convenience stores were responsible for nearly 17 percent of total 2011 beer sales, comprising the largest share of off-premise sales last year. “Convenience stores offer beer consumers accessible, speedy service,” said Joe McClain, President of the Beer Institute. “Convenience stores are growing in numbers, opening for longer hours, and offering a wide variety of brand options to our consumers. Growing convenience store beer sales show that consumers appreciate the ease of service this channel provides. ” “Our strong performance in 2011, in-
cluding beer sales, shows that our industry’s core convenience offer—especially one-stop shopping and speed of service for refreshments, food and fuel—continues to resonate with our customers and attract shoppers to our stores,” said Tom Robinson, Chairman of the National Association of Convenience Stores. Overall, the Beer Institute data indicate that beer sales rose more than two percent in 2011 across all retail sectors, surpassing $98 billion in total sales. These numbers highlight beer’s continued strength within the alcoholic beverage sector. According to market research company Nielsen, the increase in sales revenue can be largely attributed to the high-end beer business. The sale of imports, crafts and above-premium beers sold off-premise was up nearly three percent. n
7-Eleven Innovating Fight Against Illegal Underage Alcohol, Tobacco Sales 7-Eleven Inc. is taking a new and aggressive approach to enhance its social and corporate responsibility regarding the illegal underage sales of age-restricted products. Recently the company launched a new technology in each of the 26 Washington 7-Eleven® stores, in which store personnel are able to scan the 2-D code on the back of a customer’s driver license or identification card whenever age-restricted products
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country have been hesitant to implement it into their own businesses. And many consumers seem equally skeptical when it comes to using their smartphones and tablets as mobile wallets. The story is somewhat different in Europe. In many European countries, Near Field Communication payment technology has already become somewhat mundane. For example, anyone who travels on the London Underground likely pays for the trip by tapping a NFC “Oyster Card.” And customers of the London bank Barclays now carry bank cards that are NFCenabled. City officials are hard at work making mobile payment technology an integral part of this summer’s London Olympics as well. Why then if this technology has become so popular in Europe has it been somewhat slower to catch on in the United States? Feather Hickox, Senior Principal, Retail Practice for FICO, a company that works to gather and analyze business-related data, argues that the reason for the relatively slow adoption of NFC payment 12
are being purchased. This scan will verify the birth date stored on the card, but will not store any other information about the customer. The retail chain is underwriting the cost to upgrade all franchise registers, at no cost to any of its franchisees. “We believe that this new system takes compliance at 7-Eleven to the next level,” said Keith Jones, 7-Eleven’s Senior Director of Government Affairs.
“7-Eleven responded to the needs of its franchisees,” said franchise Owner Iris Yost. “We are passionate about not selling age-restricted items to minors. Because laws often place the burden on the store operator, franchisee or selling cashier, we need every protection available. The ID Scan technology we now have will go a long way in stemming wrongful age-restricted sales.” 7-Eleven has been a pioneer in the
fight against illegal underage sales for nearly 30 years. In 1984, the company developed its “Come of Age” training and awareness program that specifically targeted the illegal sale of alcohol to minors, after-hours sales, sales made on behalf of a minor and consuming alcohol on store premises. The program expanded in 1994 to include all agerestricted products, including tobacco, lottery tickets and potential inhalants. n
technology by retailers and consumers in the United States lies partly in the fact that there are simply too many different parties attempting to position themselves in the industry. “There is so much diversity in terms of…the number of payment technologies,” said Hickox. “There has to be a bunch of consolidation. So many people are trying to own this space right now.” In addition, Hickox said that many retailers are busy right now weighing the costs and benefits of this new technology. In terms of cost, the largest one for most retailers is the actual monetary cost of bringing new equipment and software into their businesses. “Thousands of retail locations need to put in something new,” said Hickox. “That alone is the biggest operational hurdle.” However, despite the potential immensity of this cost, the potential benefits are huge as well. For convenience retailers in particular the benefits of implementing a new, more convenient way for customers to pay could be a game changer. First of all, by introducing mobile payment technology into their operations, convenience retailers could much more effectively gather information about their customer base and use this
knowledge to develop more effective marketing campaigns. “The benefit is that you get the data. Right now convenience stores don’t get a lot of data on their customers,” said Hickox. In addition, mobile payment technology could also make it possible for convenience retailers to engage in direct, on-thespot marketing through providing customers with unique in store promotions and rewards. For example, a repeat customer who taps his or her smartphone at checkout could be given special coupons or other rewards for in store merchandise. However, despite these benefits, as well as the more obvious benefits of increased efficiency and shorter wait times for customers, convenience retailers are also facing some considerable costs if they are to fully implement mobile payment technology into their operations. “In the convenience space, the sheer number of stores is an obstacle,” said Hickox, speaking of the monetary cost of bringing this technology into convenience stores. In addition, she points out another ever-present concern among convenience retailers: “You’d be looking at changing cash transactions to debit card transactions, and that means swipe fees.”
Hickox points out one additional concern present among retailers looking to provide NFC payment options to their customers. “Consumer readiness in U.S. is lagging a little bit,” she said. If retailers are to maximize the potential benefits of these technologies, they will first need to drive up consumer demand. “You have to design your program so that there’s a benefit in it for the consumer,” said Hickox. Also, as many smartphone and tablet users today are wary of using their mobile devices as means of payment, it is up to retailers to show consumers that this is a safe, secure and effective use of technology. Today, as we are likely observing only the inception of what Hickox calls “the e-commerce of this decade,” it is clear that mobile payment technology is going to be an important tool in the future of retail sales. A younger, more tech-savvy generation of consumers entering the marketplace will surely accelerate the pace at which retailers are compelled to enter this new era in payment technology. “It’s in the consumer's hand what kind of payment technology they use,” said Hickox. “It’s going to be the expectation of the consumer that they can use their mobile devices for payment.” n
features RILA Report Highlights Retail Industry’s Commitment to Long-Term Social, Environmental Sustainability The Retail Industry Leaders Association recently released the first ever industrywide Retail Sustainability Report. The report highlights sustainability leadership in the retail industry as well as the environmental, social and community impacts of retail companies and the products they sell. “As one of the leading industries to embrace sustainability, it is becoming a core consideration for the retail industry,” said Adam Siegel, RILA Vice President of Sustainability and Retail Operations. “Retailers are working to incorporate sustainability into their strategy, operations, workforce engagement and connection to consumers and communities.” The RILA report employs countless company examples to highlight the innovative work of the industry and illustrate what the public can anticipate from it over the coming years. The report also examines the important role of other stakeholders in the sustainability journey, including landlords, municipalities, product manufacturers, transportation providers and customers. In examining these various stakeholders, the report serves to show how various groups can work together to achieve common goals.
In addition, the report identifies several emerging trends in retail sustainability. It shows that industry leaders are today working across sectors to achieve their sustainability goals. In addition, they are increasingly turning away from sustainability as a cost and risk reduction measure and moving toward embracing it as an opportunity for business growth. Finally, the report illustrates the ways in which the retail industry is developing systems for continuous improvement and fostering transparency in operations and in the supply chain. “RILA’s first sustainability report is an important step forward for the retail industry,” said Ted Howes, Director of Advisory Services for Business for Social Responsibility. “Our hope is that RILA’s efforts will inspire retailers around the globe to take action and engage in sustainability more deeply and strategically, to ensure a healthier bottom line as well as a healthier planet.” “This report is a first look at the broader industry’s accomplishments, challenges and future directions. It lays a foundation to determine where we can go from here,” added Siegel.
For the past several years, RILA has provided resources to empower, enhance and accelerate sustainability activities in the retail industry, and this report is the first comprehensive look at the current sustainability landscape. It seeks to highlight sustainability trends in the retail industry, shedding light on retail’s evolving business practices, and the challenges still facing the industry today. RILA states that its broader objective is to provide the retail industry and those it serves with a way to act on and engage in sustainability through framing critical issues, anticipating future trends, recognizing challenges and sharing examples of how retailers are responding. Data for the report was collected from the 2011 sustainability reports of thirty RILA member companies. Companies included are representative of the industry’s diversity, from food to general merchandise to specialty stores, and from large to small format. Information was also compiled through multiple industry surveys, industry meetings and company interviews, across all segments of retail. More information about the RILA report is available at www.rila.org/sustainability. n
Shoppers Indicate Desire for More Ecologically Friendly, Recycled Product Packaging Options
In research recently conducted by Perception Research Services, shoppers demonstrated that they are interested in choosing environmentally friendly packaging. Overall, 36 percent of shoppers said that they would like to choose environmentally friendly packaging, a significant increase from 2010, when only 28 percent of those surveyed indicated a desire to do so. And more than half of those desirous of ecologically healthy packaging indicated that they would be willing to pay more for the option. In addition, 59 percent of those surveyed said that seeing environmental claims on packaging positively impacts their behavior and influences them to either buy more of the brands they usually do, or switch to others. Of the various claims companies are currently making regarding the ecofriendly quality of their packaging, the two that have been proven to be most influential to consumers include the statements that the package is either recyclable or that it is manufactured from recycled materials. Two-thirds of shoppers indicate that they recycle on a regular basis. And the study indicated that the 14
number of shoppers checking packaging prior to purchase to to see if it is recycled or can be recycled is on the rise. In short, it is growing increasingly important for companies to clearly convey this feature on their packaging. Ironically, however, although shoppers state that they observe stores increasingly offering claims that their products and packaging are environmentally friendly, these same individuals are increasingly frustrated by the content, quality and reliability of the information provided. In total, 26 percent of those surveyed said that companies are not giving them sufficient information about the environmental benefits of their products. Twenty percent said that they are confused by the variety of environmental claims companies are making today. And 22 percent said that despite the myriad claims being made, they still do not know which types of packages are the best for the environment. Perhaps most importantly, fewer shoppers today (57 percent in 2012 vs. 61 percent in 2010) feel that manufacturers’ motives are primarily honorable when of-
fering eco-friendly packaging options. Shoppers are becoming more skeptical of manufacturers’ behaviors and motives in this area, as more say that companies are increasingly self-serving, seeking to enhance their own reputation and increase profits, rather than to truly protect the environment. “We’re seeing a great opportunity for manufacturers to provide truly valueadded packaging to their target shoppers by making it more environmentally friendly—primarily in the form of recyclability and recycled content—and clearly communicating these aspects,” said Jonathan Asher, Executive Vice President at Perception Research Services. “We have seen that it is vital to get both the message right (what is said) as well as the delivery (how it is executed on pack), because one without the other will create a missed opportunity. “In addition, it is becoming apparent that the days of disguising cost reductions (e.g., smaller, thinner packages) as being driven by environmental concerns may be coming to an end, and continuing to do so may test shoppers’ good will.” n
U.S., European Authorities Investigating Major Credit Card Companies
According to the Merchants Payments Coalition, the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Visa, the nation’s largest credit card company, for unfairly attempting to stifle competition in the nation’s credit and debit card markets and thus violating federal antitrust laws. In a recent call with company investors, where he discussed the company’s fiscal and second-quarter earnings, Visa Chairman and CEO Joseph Saunders said that DOJ antitrust investigators are looking at how the company runs the part of its debit card business that routes transactions to banks. Investigators are also looking into a new card fee the company is now charging. Critics argue that the fee charged by Visa unfairly makes merchants pay for both credit and debit cards, and it could financially coerce merchants into accepting cards they do not want. The fee could also undercut merchants’ competitive choice of which network to use for their transactions, a violation of financial reform law. Under the recently passed Durbin Amendment, banks now have to allow more than one company, such as Visa, to carry debit card transactions, and merchants are supposed to be able to make that choice, enabling competition and keeping network fees down. Critics of Visa argue that the company may be violating antitrust laws and trying to avoid the competition required by financial reform law. “The Department of Justice has made progress policing the payments market, and the new investigation of Visa is another step in the right direction,” said Doug Kantor, Counsel to the Merchants Payments Coalition. “Visa should not be able to muscle retailers into paying upfront costs for both credit and debit transactions before they happen.” In related news, the European Union’s top antitrust regulator Joaquin Almunia, EU Competition Commissioner, is also conducting a study into how Visa and Mastercard determine the interchange fees paid by retailers, and whether these fees are too high. “The fees are still too high and too unequal,” said Almunia at a recent financial conference in Brussels. “We are now conducting a study which will give us a better picture of the merchants’ actual costs and benefits of accepting cards as compared to other means of payment.” In particular, European retailers are fuming at the high costs of cross-border credit and debit card transactions, which, according to them, can cost them as much as two percent of the total transaction cost, but which are supposed to be limited to 0.3 percent of the transaction cost for credit card purchases and 0.2 percent for debit card purchases. n
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people fully hydrated. Energy drinks make up one of the most burgeoning segments of the overall beverage industry, concocted from a number of ingredients known for their stimulating qualities, including caffeine, guarana, taurine, ginseng and ginkgo biloba. Health and wellness beverages make up a diverse category of products designed to benefit the body in a number of ways, including replacing needed vitamins and preventing disease. And weight management beverages serve to help consumers burn calories, stifle hunger and boost metabolism. The growing consumer demand for functional beverages can be in part attributed to a larger social movement toward healthy living. “People are becoming more health conscious. The trend going on right now is people are becoming more aware of the things they are putting in their bodies,” said Marty Brown, Chief Operating Officer of functional beverage company Mr. Pink. “People are asking, should I just be drinking things that taste good, or should I drink something that’s healthy?” Mr. Pink is capitalizing on this growing demand for healthy beverages by marketing a line of vitamin-infused ginseng drinks. Each one of Mr. Pink’s beverages contains 1,000 mg. of ginseng, an ingredient revered for thousands of years for its health benefits. For ages, ginseng has been known to increase mental clarity and memory and boost the immune system. Some even believe it serves as an aphrodisiac. “We’re not trying to say this is modern medicine,” Brown said. He acknowledges that it is important to make sure the claims Mr. Pink makes about its products’ health benefits are clear and defensible. “I don’t have to claim that this product cures this or cures that. I want it to make you feel good.” When asked what category Mr. Pink fits into within the larger functional beverage market, Brown runs into some difficulty. “To some degree what we’re trying to do is create our own category, a ginseng drink category.” Not content to be labeled simply as an energy drink or a health and wellness drink, Mr. Pink shows how these category boundaries are unraveling in today’s market. “We’re not an energy drink,” Brown said. “We’re an energy alternative drink.” Mr. Pink is not the only beverage brand working to break down traditional category barriers within the industry. My Body Shots is another company whose products are not easily classified. According to Kevin Szakacs, Vice President of the company, My Body Shots is working to create an entirely new category of functional beverages, combining hydration and heath and wellness elements. My Body Shots markets 2.5-ounce drink shots designed to meet a number of
different consumer needs. The company’s products contain a very high concentration of healthy, hydrating electrolytes, and no artificial preservatives, sweeteners or colors. “The best way to describe (My Body Shots) is that it concentrates sport drinks and vitamin waters,” said Szakacs. “Why drink the whole can?” In an industry that has recently become overrun with new product offerings, My Body Shots has achieved success by reaching out to new consumer markets, not usually targeted by functional beverage companies. For example, My Body Shots Electro Nyte is a popular drink designed to help people avoid the negative
after-effects of drinking alcohol. However, the company has aimed the product not necessarily at the binge drinking college crowd, but rather at everyday people who may enjoy a couple drinks after work or a bottle of wine with friends. “We started putting a positive lifestyle focus on the brand,” said Szakacs. “It’s about being healthy while you’re drinking.” Another consumer niche not normally marketed to by functional beverage companies is children, and My Body Shots has created a product for this market as well. “Electro Kids Sport is a kids’ version of a sport drink,” said Szakacs. For children playing outside all day and not necessarily
staying hydrated and for those in school not necessarily eating the healthiest lunches, Electro Kid Sport contains vital electrolytes, vitamins and minerals, all concentrated in a tasty, nourishing shot. Launched just last November, My Body Shots products are already sold at CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide. And the company is in talks to launch its products at a number of other major national retailers. My Body Shots proves that there is still room for growth within the functional beverages market if a company is willing to stretch the traditional categories and reach out to consumer niches that are often overlooked by the industry. n
features Research Shows Retail Sector Suffering Worldwide from Lack of Employee Engagement
Employee engagement in the U.S. retail sector has sunk to its lowest levels since 2009, according to a new study released by the Kenexa High Performance Institute. Kenexa, a global provider of business solutions for human resources, has conducted evidence-based research into employee engagement for more than 25 years. Its latest report, “The World of Retail: How Employee Engagement Can Help the Registers Ring,” examines employee engagement trends since 2007 in the retail sector in six nations: the United States, Brazil, China, Germany, India and the United Kingdom. The results show a marked drop in employee engagement in all six nations in 2011. “The economic downturn has hit retailers everywhere hard, as costs have been cut, plans have been put on hold and brands have gone out of business,” said Rena Rasch, Research Manager for Kenexa. “The sector has also seen an increase in employee theft and shoplifting, which has been attributed to low pay, poor benefits and a perception
among employees that their companies don’t care about them.” The new study also reveals that employee engagement has a direct correlation to customer satisfaction and organizational performance. “The simple truth is that engaged employees make a difference, particularly those in customer-facing positions,” Rasch said. “When engagement is low, customer satisfaction and organizational performance tend to be low. But when engagement levels rise, these factors also improve, because employees are more motivated to contribute to the organization’s success and are more willing to put in extra effort to accomplish tasks that are central to the goals of the organization.” Rasch added, “In other words, by improving employee engagement, retailers can enhance customer satisfaction and increase sales volume.” According to the study, a low level of employee engagement also results in higher staff turnover. More than 50 percent of unengaged retail employees plan
to leave their employer in the coming year, compared to only about 10 percent of highly engaged workers. “Employees who are not engaged are much more likely to consider leaving their organization,” Rasch said. “As the global economy slowly emerges from the recession, opportunities for employees will open up elsewhere and retailers could find themselves competing for talent. This could prove costly for those with a less engaged workforce.” Finally, the Kenexa study also reveals that, out of six industry sectors surveyed globally, including high tech manufacturing, heavy/light manufacturing, healthcare, banking and financial services and the public sector, retail has the lowest level of employee engagement. “The retail sector has faced a perennial struggle with employee engagement, partly because it employs many part-time, low skilled and seasonal workers,” said Rasch. “However, retailers are at risk if leaders and HR practitioners don’t act to bolster employee
engagement in their organizations.” The Kenexa report makes several recommendations to retailers interested in improving employee engagement. First, develop effective, trustworthy, honest and caring leaders who can inspire confidence in their employees through their exemplary actions and demeanor. Second, help employees to balance their work and life priorities, through providing practical support, such as flexible work schedules. Third, ensure compensation levels are fair, explain to employees how their pay is determined, and demonstrate a link between income and performance. And finally, foster a climate of innovation. Employees want exciting work. They like to try new things, share their ideas and be listened to. The chance to be innovative challenges and motivates employees to perform at their best. More information on the Kenexa High Performance Institute and its report on employee engagement can be found at www.khpi.com. n
Cintas Accepting Nominations for 11th Edition of its Popular America's Best Restroom Contest
Do you own or operate an establishment with a restroom that gives guests more than one good reason to “go?” Are you the creative mind behind a public restroom designed or customized to integrate function with fashion or to bring personality into a space where you least expect to see it? Maybe you’re the client or customer who appreciates a particularly clean, well-maintained and tastefully designed washroom? This year marks the 11th anniversary of Cintas’ America’s Best Restroom® Contest. The national cleaning supply company launched the contest more than a decade ago to recognize establishments that place high value on hygiene and style in their public restrooms. “The condition of the restrooms in a restaurant, hotel or other public facility undoubtedly influences a customer’s overall experience,” said John Engel, Cintas Senior Marketing Manager. “Cintas’ America’s Best Restroom Contest salutes business owners who invest in the upkeep of their facilities because they know it makes smart business sense.” Interested parties can nominate a deserving washroom online today at www.bestrestroom.com. Ten finalists July/August 2012
will be announced in August, at which time an online vote to determine an overall winner will begin. The winner and runner-up will be revealed this fall, with top vote-getters securing a place in Cintas’ America’s Best Restroom Contest Hall of Fame. Past winners and finalists, along with existing Cintas customers, recognize the correlation between clean restrooms and customer satisfaction and retention. Chicago’s famous Field Museum gained national media attention for its spacious and family-friendly restroom design, taking first place in the 2011 contest. “It's certainly had a positive effect on our staff, which in the end affects business,” said Emily Waldren, who manages public relations for the Field Museum. “Our housekeeping and facilities staff are certainly the unsung heroes of the museum, and this recognition was exciting for them, increasing morale. I believe that shows in their continued work.” The contest is open to any non-residential restroom in the United States that is accessible to the general public. Entries will be judged on cleanliness, visual appeal, innovation, functionality and unique design elements. n
features Those with Retailer-Branded Smartphone App Visit Stores More Often
Are smartphone apps the magic bullet of marketing for retailers? According to a December 2011 ABI Research survey of U.S. consumers, it may be so. More than 45 percent of survey respondents who said they had downloaded a retailerbranded app said the app causes them to visit the store more frequently. More than 40 percent said that the app influences them to buy more of the store’s products and services. And about a third said that the app makes them more likely to tell a friend about their shopping experience and encourage friends to visit the store.
“These are overwhelmingly positive numbers,” said API Research Senior Analyst Mark Beccue. “They are so compelling that if retailers do not have a smartphone app strategy in place right now, they are in danger of being left behind by their competitors.” Still, of those who responded to the survey, only 25 percent said that they actually had in fact downloaded a retailer-branded app. Thus, it is possible that the high level of positive response to the apps reflects the fact that the respondents were already enthusiastic fans of the store prior to downloading them. As the number of consumers
who download retailer-branded apps continues to go up, the level of positive response could decrease. Even taking this into account, however, the survey results are still compelling. “Clearly consumers are using retailerbranded apps as an engagement tool. Once a retailer can capture a consumer with one, there is a real opportunity to leverage smartphone apps to enhance customer service, deliver richer, more relevant product information in real time, shorten checkout lines, and more,” said Beccue. “We are at the dawn of a very dynamic and creative time for retail.” n
Study Highlights Clean Diesel Technology’s Role in Promoting Public Health
A study recently released by the Health Effects Institute provides important new insights on the advancements in clean diesel technology and ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel. The goal of the study was to test the emissions and health effects of the new technology diesel engines, to document the improvements that have been made and to ensure that there are no unintended emissions from this new technology. The study evaluated impacts from exposure to diesel exhaust emissions on laboratory animals over various time intervals. In their commentary, the study’s review panel concluded, “Overall, these results showed few biologic effects related to
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gas prices are likely to affect how much money they are willing to spend on instore luxuries. Despite the fact that gasoline may be a critical component of the convenience store industry in bringing customers into retail locations, it is not the most profitable one. According to the Associated Food and Petroleum Dealers, 75 percent of all convenience store profit comes from in-store sales. But as gas prices go up, retailers throughout the country are reporting a decrease in instore traffic, resulting in serious negative impacts to their bottom lines. According to Mae Nutley, Director of Analytics for Corporate Research International, traditionally, the two main drivers of retail traffic for the convenience store industry are location and the price of gas. Today, high gas prices are deterring rather than drawing consumers to these stores. And retailers can not readily change their locations. Therefore, they need to find a new way to bring consumers into their establishments. The answer, according to Nutley, in18
diesel exhaust exposure.” “As this new study illustrates, the 2007 compliant diesel technology provided historic improvements in reducing particulate and nitrogen oxide emissions,” said Allen Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum. “And the 2010 and newer diesel technology is even cleaner with near zero emissions. “In the past decade, emissions from heavy-duty diesel trucks and buses have been reduced by 99 percent for nitrogen oxides, an ozone precursor, and 98 percent for particulate emissions, which include black carbon.” While this study was limited to highway diesel engines like those used in commercial
volves heightening the overall customer experience through improved service. “The biggest driver goes back to customer service,” said Nutley. “How well are they treated by the retail employee? How knowledgeable is the employee? How clean is the employee? That was a big driver.” CRI research shows that improving employee professionalism has the potential to help retailers gain back some of the customer traffic they have lost due to rising fuel prices. “You really need to have people who have an outward appearance that shows that they can be trusted,” Nutley said. “In any retail environment, when you’re negatively impacted by something outside your control, you’re going to need to react in a way to counteract that,” said Dan Denston, Executive Director of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association. According to him, it is vital in today’s market that retailers devote necessary attention to proper employee training. “Having an educated and trained workforce is really important…What you need is someone that understands the job and how to do it in the best way possible.”
trucks and buses, virtually the same technologies, including cleaner diesel fuel and advanced engine and emissions controls, are being introduced for all non-road engines and equipment used in construction, agriculture, mining and other industries. “Getting to these near-zero levels of emissions is a result of the highly integrated clean diesel system—cleaner ultra low sulfur diesel fuel, advanced engine technologies and emissions control systems,” said Schaeffer. “Not only are the engines near zero emissions, they are also achieving important gains in fuel efficiency of anywhere from two to 10 percent, bringing valuable savings to owners and operators of new clean diesel engines.” n Denston points to mystery shoppers as an important tool convenience retailers can employ to better gauge how successful employees are at their jobs as well as what kind of experiences real customers are having at these stores. “All retailers are going to get some benefit from using mystery shoppers,” said Denston. “They can change what they do based on what the business is looking for…This is personal. This is someone that’s actually a customer, a consumer.” By using mystery shoppers, retailer can get a clear measurement of the quality of service their customers are receiving and work to better educate employees in order to improve this service. The good news for convenience retailers is that despite the rise in fuel prices, the overall consumer demand for gasoline does not appear to be falling in the short term. As consumers continue to flock to gas stations to fill up their vehicles, convenience store owners can still bring them inside their stores. However, these retailers will need to do some work if they are to successfully adapt to a changing marketplace and attract the customers they have lost thus far. n
Federal Appeals Court Weighs in on Graphic Cigarette Warnings
The ongoing back-and-forth battle over the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed requirement that tobacco manufacturers include graphic warning labels on their packaging is not expected to reach its conclusion any time soon. Last year, the FDA first introduced a series of extremely gruesome images, depicting autopsied corpses, individuals with tracheotomies and other negative effects of smoking. The agency intended to require cigarette companies to cover 50 percent of the front and back of their packaging with these images. However, the tobacco industry predictably balked at this requirement, claiming that such a requirement clearly violated their First Amendment right to free speech. In February, it seemed that the tobacco companies were likely to get their wish, as U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled to block the FDA mandate, arguing that the requirement does indeed violate the companies’ right to free speech. The ruling was issued in response to a lawsuit filed by R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard Tobacco and Commonwealth Brands. Just one month later, Leon’s ruling was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The appeals court found that the FDA does in fact have the right to require the tobacco companies to include the graphic warning labels, arguing that they “are reasonably related to the government's interest in preventing consumer deception and are therefore constitutional.” The court also ruled that the warnings “do not impose any restriction on Plaintiff's dissemination of speech, nor do they touch on Plaintiffs' core speech. Instead, the labels serve as disclaimers to the public regarding the incontestable health consequences of using tobacco.” This ruling did not end the battle; however, on April 10, a Washington-based Federal Appeals Court heard the tobacco companies’ case. The judges present on the three-member panel alluded during the hearing that they are perhaps inclined to side with the FDA on this issue. However, as Convenience Retailer went to press, they have yet to issue a ruling. Regardless of how the federal appeals court rules on this issue, it is almost certain not to end here. The case will likely advance to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the justices there will ultimately make the final decision as to the constitutionality of the graphic warning labels. Right now, cigarette companies are required to begin including the FDA’s images on their packaging starting in September. However, as long as the case is still on appeal, this requirement is on hold for the moment. Should the case advance to the Supreme Court, it could take years before a ruling is made, permitting tobacco companies to eschew the ads for the foreseeable future. n
features Poll Shows Americans Thirsty for Variety when Purchasing Wine A new poll conducted by Harris Interactive reveals that, although wine drinking may not be as important to American culture as it is in Europe, 62 percent of adults in this country at least occasionally buy a bottle of wine. Almost half of those surveyed drink wine several times a month. And 22 percent purchase four or more bottles each month. Whether it's for convenience, cost, patriotism, personal preference or something else, a large majority of adults who buy or drink wine primarily purchase wine produced in the United States (89 percent). However, many Americans are still buying wine produced elsewhere including wines from Italy (37 percent), Australia (34 percent), France (33 percent), Chile (21 percent), Spain (21 percent), Germany (20 percent) and Argentina (19 percent). The Harris poll also reveals that, regardless of changing national tastes, when it comes to purchasing wine, old habits are slow to change. The overwhelming majority of those surveyed, 78 percent, indicated that they sometimes purchase and drink
bottles of wine that they have previously enjoyed. This is true especially among older Americans. Over half of adults over 67 stated that they frequently purchase
In regards to how much they are willing to spend, 61 percent of those surveyed reported that the last bottle of wine they purchased cost $14 or less. Twenty-
bottles of wine that they have already had. In contrast, just 32 percent of adults under 35 stated that they do the same.
six percent stated that their most recent wine purchase cost them less than $10. Most wine drinkers stated that they do
not regularly spend over $30 on a bottle of wine, although 34 percent stated that they have at least occasionally done so. Regionally speaking, adults in the Midwest buy wine the least frequently, with just 13 percent reporting that they purchase four or more bottles per month. In contrast, adults in the West purchase the most wine, with 29 percent buying at least this amount and 10 percent reporting that they buy at least 11 bottles each month. What this poll reveals is that most Americans at least purchase some wine, and many show an interest in broadening their horizons in terms of what kinds of wine they buy. Retailers would do well to reach out to these consumers, as many seem to buy the same bottle out of habit rather than lack of interest in trying something new. It also seems that while Americans generally spend on the lower end of the spectrum in terms of wine pricing, many purchasers buy several bottles per month and return to labels that are familiar, making them very valuable retail consumers. n
features PayPal Sets Out to Explode as Retail Payment Option, Partnering With Mobile POS Companies The popularity of PayPal as a retail payment option seems poised to explode in the coming months, as the company is teaming up with two major technology companies to provide retailers nationwide with the option to accept PayPal as a means of payment. First, PayPal has established a comprehensive licensing, marketing and agreement with implementation mobile payment company Verifone that will allow retailers to accept PayPal payments. With VeriFone’s customer base encompassing 80 percent of the top 200 largest retailers in the United States, the agreement provides PayPal with unprecedented access to more than one million high volume points of sale. Together, VeriFone and PayPal offer retailers the opportunity to converge e-commerce and retail payments into a new shopping experience for consumers. As participating retailers take advantage of VeriFone’s software upgrade and services, shoppers will be able to utilize the existing spectrum of PayPal payment methods at checkout, including
Grab and Go Continued from Page 1
fuel sales continued to make up the vast bulk of overall convenience store revenue in 2011, accounting for more than $486 billion in sales. In fact, overall fuel revenue was up 27 percent over the previous
using a PayPal Access card and PIN or entering a phone number and PIN. “VeriFone’s extensive customer base and strong technology make it a natural ally for PayPal, as we continue to deliver on our strategy to bring intelligent electronic payments and value-added offers to brick-and-mortar stores,” said Don Kingsborough, Vice President of Retail and Pre-Paid Services for PayPal. Initially VeriFone will layer PayPal’s “digital wallet” interfaces and user experience at select merchant locations in the United States alongside traditional payment forms, spurring consumer demand for this unique payment experience. In the long-term, VeriFone will enable PayPal acceptance nationwide as part of new services and solution packages offered to its expansive global retail customer base. “Retailers who take advantage of the extensions to VeriFone’s platforms will be able to offer their customers a rich environment that integrates the virtual and physical retail worlds,” said Jennifer Miles, VeriFone Executive Vice President. “By working to extend PayPal’s reach into traditional retail,
VeriFone is providing retailers with an immediate and simple way to adopt and manage new payment experiences that consumers are demanding.” In addition to this recently announced pact between PayPal and Verifone, PayPal also recently announced a new partnership with Equinox Payments LLC, a leading payment terminal and secure applications provider. The partnership between PayPal and Equinox will enable consumers to pay with PayPal at large retailers by using Equinox’s next-generation PCI 3x Certified L5300 and L5200 consumer-facing payment terminals. PayPal users will benefit from the convenience of paying with the service at thousands of Equinox-equipped retail stores across the United States. “Three of the top 10 U.S. retailers use Equinox terminals due in part to our ability to enable the latest technologies at checkout,” said Clint Jones, President of Equinox Payments. “Our partnership with PayPal will give Equinox customers—processors, independent sales organizations, acquirers and retailers— even more choice among value-added services that they choose to run on their
Equinox terminals.“ “As PayPal continues to expand into the brick-and-mortar retail world, we are pleased to join forces with industry leaders such as Equinox. Together, we will bring national retailers innovative new payment experiences that are easy to install and use,” said Kingsborough. “The retailer’s customers also benefit from using PayPal in stores as they securely breeze through the checkout process paying with their payment cards or mobile phone numbers and PINs.” Equinox has already integrated the PayPal Card and Card-Free payment solution into the code base platform for all L5300 terminals. Those retailers that have already deployed the L5300 can take advantage of the Equinox Remote Key Injection System to update their terminal software and activate the PayPal solutions. Unlike competitor products, Equinox’s industry-leading technology can securely update terminal software that requires new symmetric keys without the costly and time consuming headache of taking the terminal out of the checkout lane and shipping it to a secure key injection facility. n
year. However, despite this increase in sales, the number of gallons of fuel sold is on the decline, nationally. As gasoline prices continue to rise and vehicles are made increasingly fuel efficient, in-store purchases are sure to make up a growing percentage of overall industry revenue. And in particular, this means that convenience retailers will need to focus more energy on their foodservices business if they are to maximize their profits. A recent study by foodservices industry research and consulting firm Technomic found that the sale of prepared foods at convenience stores totals roughly $10 billion annually, making up an increasingly significant percentage of the overall sales of prepared foods nationwide. The Technomic study reveals that over the past several years, many convenience stores have been transforming themselves into quickservice style restaurants with restaurantquality food offerings. Of course the sale of prepared foods at convenience stores is not a new concept, and these establishments have long been selling hot dogs, donuts and similar graband-go items to their patrons. However, what has changed recently is the quality and diversity of the foods being offered, as well as the importance of the revenue earned from the sale of prepared foods, relative to the industry’s overall profits. Gourmet quality grab-and-go prepared sandwiches are one important item many
convenience retailers are offering their patrons today. Whereas someone might spend $7 or $8 on a deli sandwich from a quick-service restaurant, convenience store customers are being drawn to the sandwich case primarily because of low cost. In addition, some retailers are using add-ons like condiment bars and “combo” meal bundles to help fuel sandwich sales. Customers are also being enticed by increasingly gourmet sandwich options. Today, one can find a diverse array of high quality sandwich offerings at convenience stores, including everything from Wawa’s Spicy Fiesta Turkey Wrap to Sheetz’ Smokehouse Chicken Breast Sandwich. Pre-prepared salads have also recently begun making their debut in cold foods cases at many convenience stores nationwide. Midwestern chain Turkey Hill Minit Markets, for example, today serves both a classic chef salad and a chicken Caesar at many of is 270 locations. In fact, many of the largest convenience store chains in the United States today serve fresh salads, including 7-Eleven, Speedway, Quiktrip and Wawa. The growing prominence of fresh sandwiches and salads at convenience stores is indicative of a larger move within the industry toward satisfying the consumer demand for healthier grab-and-go food options. Fresh cut produce is another option many retailers are incorporating into
their food services operations. Many 7-Eleven stores, for example, offer shoppers the option of a fresh cut fruit bowl. Other companies are selling healthy yogurt and granola, cups of seasoned brown rice and fresh cut vegetables, all pre-packaged and ready to eat. One additional market that convenience retailers are attempting to tap into through their grab-and-go food business is the breakfast market. According to Technomic, 46 percent of consumers report that they at least occasionally purchase breakfast on the go, and the number one factor driving these purchases is quickness and convenience. For this reason, companies like Michael Foods, which supplies precooked egg products to convenience stores, are becoming increasingly influential in driving morning consumer traffic to these establishments. As the convenience store industry looks to the future, it is clear that foodservice is set to be a crucial element to the industry’s continued success. However, retailers cannot expect to maximize their profits if they are not offering quality, indemand, yet still convenient options. Retailers will have to carefully select the right prepared foods to offer, as well as the ideal distributors. They will have to wisely and competitively price their offerings. And they will have to devote considerable effort toward effectively marketing their foodservices programs. n
o pnewe rproducts ations DeltaTRAK Revolutionizes Cold Chain Solution Technology
DeltaTRAK ®, a leader in cold chain management solutions recently unveiled its newest technological innovation. DeltaTRAK’s ColdTRAK ThermoTrace TTI labels and service provide immediate product quality information to anyone that scans the TTI label with a smartphone-based reader. The free smartphone application will display on screen a customizable predefined product quality message as defined by the ColdTRAK ThermoTrace TTI Service customer. For example, the message displayed could say “Good” or “Fresh,” indicating the product has not experienced any temperature excursions, or it might say “sell immediately” or “80 percent shelf life remaining.” If the product has experienced extreme exposure to abusive temperatures, the message might read “do not sell.” The TTI label is a low cost single-use barcode label that supports a variety of preset time and temperature events. The label is activated by pulling a tab. On exposure to temperatures exceeding a threshold temperature, it then records the event and the barcode is changed. This enables fast and accurate readings. The system can be integrated into any existing cold chain program with minimal integration and implementation difficulty. With the ColdTRAK ThermoTrace TTI Service, the user receives an immediate email or text message every time the TTI label is scanned anywhere in the cold chain. This enables quality assurance and food safety personnel to take corrective action whenever necessary. “With our TTI solution, anyone can get product quality information instantly. And, because the labels are low cost, it is now practical to track shelf life impact down to the carton level,” said Frederick Wu, President and CEO of DeltaTRAK. “DeltaTRAK Cold Chain Solutions give any user along the cold chain instant product quality information by simply scanning the barcode label at any point in time through the cold chain. They are easy to use, extremely accurate and give customers the exact data they need to maintain product integrity and increase safety and shelf life.” DeltaTRAK is a leading innovator of cold chain management, environment monitoring and food safety solutions for the food, pharmaceutical, life sciences and chemical industries. Visit www.deltatrak.com for more information on the company and the technology solutions it offers. n
Gas Stations Prepare to Offer E15, the New Ethanol Blend BY ROBERT WHITE, DIRECTOR OF MARKET DEVELOPMENT, RFA
The talk for more than a year has been about the approval of E15 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This approval came with vehicle restrictions, however. The EPA only made the use of this fuel legal in light duty cars, trucks and SUVs model year 2001 and newer, along with all flex-fuel vehicles. All other vehicles and engines should not use E15. In fact, it will be illegal to do so. E15 has now made it through the federal process, which included many steps. It required the approval of a Misfueling Mitigation Plan, which refiners and blenders will have to adapt to the letter in order to offer the product. It also required the approval of a national fuel survey, which has now happened. The focus now moves to the petroleum marketers, station owners and their individual states. The Blend Your Own Ethanol Campaign is here to guide retailers on the least expensive path for adding E15 both safely
and legally. Many have stated the cost of adding E15 can be a six-figure endeavor, and while that may be true for some, it will not be true for most. In fact, some stations are gearing up for their E15 debut with only minor adjustments. If tank infrastructure allows, E15 can simply replace an existing product and be a low-cost alternative to another low volume product. Another option, and perhaps what will be most popular, is to install one or more blender pumps. A blender pump is a multi-product dispenser that can deliver various blends of fuel, now mostly containing some level of ethanol. The blender pump can offer more product choices for consumers on the same footprint, and typically use the same tanks and pipes you have today. Depending on your location, you may have the opportunity to buy directly from an ethanol plant, avoiding terminals and potentially saving money. Blender pumps will also prepare you for the future, enabling you to do more than simply meeting current standards. And unlike the stand-alone E85 dispensers of the
past, the blender pump is paid for by all of the products it dispenses, not just a single one. If you have looked at E85, in the past and been concerned about inventory turnover, you will see a much faster inventory turnover with a blender pump. In most cases E85 is being diluted for a variety of other blends. Last, but definitely not least, blender pumps can enable you to sell E15 when the timing is right for you. More information on blender pumps and E15 is available at www.byoethanol.com. You can register for one of the campaign’s upcoming webinars, view an old webinar or simply ask questions. To get answers immediately, you can reach representatives of the Renewable Fuels Association at 402.391.1930 or those at American Coalition for Ethanol at 805.334.3381. The BYO Ethanol Campaign is a joint effort of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), to promote the benefits of blender pumps and ethanol-blended fuel. This effort is predominately funded by more than 12 corn grower organizations. n
SnapRetail Calendar Makes Online Store Marketing Fast and Easy
SnapRetail, a technology company that provides the only software solution for small retailers to plan, promote, sell and stock their stores online, recently upped their product offerings with the launch of the company’s new Calendar and Idea Bar. The Calendar is a Web-based feature that helps retailers plan, create, schedule and send marketing campaigns to customers via email or social media. In about 10 percent of the time it takes to use other email marketing systems, retailers using the SnapRetail calendar can already be in touch with their customer base. In addition, the Calendar offers ideas, inspiration and tools to help retailers develop innovative marketing campaigns, driving store traffic and increasing sales.
“Local retailers are busier than ever. They simply don’t have the time to market and often struggle to come up with creative ideas to promote their stores,” said Ted Teele, CEO of SnapRetail. “They know they need to use Facebook, but are not sure what to say. And they have told us that it takes four to five hours to create and test an e-mail campaign using other systems. Our planning Calendar is a unique service that sparks ideas and makes it fast and easy to share them with their customers.” The Calendar’s accompanying Idea Bar supplies users with a constant supply of inspiration for campaigns, posts and events. The Idea Bar provides fun ideas around events like April Fool’s Day, Earth Day and
Mother’s Day, serving to grow store and online sales and keep customers engaged. The Calendar also provides a clear view of future ideas, and it tracks successes from previous months with real-time summaries. Free to subscribers of SnapRetail’s TrafficBuilder, the Calendar offers an easy drag-and-drop format, as well as a collection of tens of thousands of professional images, templates and ideas for use by retailers seeking to build their campaigns and plan their marketing schedules. Since SnapRetail works with more than 170 vendors, TrafficBuilder offers access to the highest quality images and customizable email templates, along with ideas tailored to each individual store. n
Agilence Announces Food Stamp and Voucher Compliance Service
Agilence Inc., the leader in point-of-sale video auditing solutions, recently introduced a technological service aimed at helping retailers address the challenges of proving and ensuring ongoing legal compliance with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, and other welfare programs. Utilizing POS video auditing technology, this new service enables retailers to prove that they are in compliance through collecting daily video evidence. Food stamp fraud has become increasingly complex over the years as the SNAP program has grown from serving roughly one in 50 Americans in the 1970s to nearly one in seven Americans today. The same is true for the WIC program, which has grown from serving 88,000 Americans in
1974 to more than 8.9 million Americans today. Because of this, managing compliance with these programs is expected to increase as a major concern for retailers. Kevin Concannon, USDA Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, recently promised stricter retail oversight and enforcement related to the SNAP program. Among the promised changes are more stringent documentation requirements and background checks for retailers who participate or hope to participate in the program, as well as blacklisting of retailers who violate established federal policies. By continuously monitoring specifically for SNAP and WIC compliance, Agilence’s centralized monitoring team will be able to identify fraud as it happens, either on the part of employees or customers. In addi-
tion, in the event that they are audited, retailers utilizing Agilence technology can quickly receive detailed accounts and video footage of each transaction where food stamps were provided as tender. “Increases in government oversight and regulation will result in considerable effort on the part of retailers to prove compliance with SNAP and WIC program laws,” said Derek Rodner, Agilence Vice President of Product Strategy and Marketing. “Furthermore, daily fraud prevention presents a serious challenge for today’s retailers, whose employees may be breaking the law without their knowledge. As the only company capable of synching transaction data at the point-of-sale with corresponding video, we are uniquely positioned to eliminate these burdens, allowing retailers to focus on their core business.” n
operations Ecolab Keeping Kitchens Working and Hygienic with New Innovative Foodservices Technologies
Ecolab, a global leader in providing water, hygiene and energy technologies and services to the food, hospitality and healthcare industries, among others, recently unveiled a slate of new products at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago that have quickly caught the attention of foodservices professionals. First, Ecolab is launching PartsXpress Online, an enterprise-level e-commerce solution designed for customers who order kitchen equipment replacement parts. Through PartsXpress Online, customers will have access to more than 40,000 stocked parts representing the industry’s top 400 equipment brands. The PartsXpress website is built on an industry-leading enterprise resource planning system, ensuring customers have a secure and convenient shopping experience. With a few simple clicks, customers can search PartsXpress Online for parts, manuals and diagrams specific to their kitchen equipment.
With a combined robust knowledge management system and nationwide Ecolab Parts Specialist team, Parts Xpress Online customers can order at any time and have their order shipped the same day, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time. “We are committed to developing innovative solutions that help keep our customers’ kitchen equipment operating properly while reducing costs,” said Gaetan Lambiase, Vice President and General Manager of Ecolab Equipment Care. “Our PartsXpress Online solution, which is built on advanced IT technologies, deep industry knowledge and our automated supply chain, enables us to quickly and efficiently get customers the right parts, when they are needed most.” Ecolab also debuted at the NRA Show the new Stealth® Fly Station. This proprietary addition to Ecolab’s industryleading Large Fly Program attracts and eliminates flies before they enter a facil-
ity. The Stealth Fly Station has shown the ability to reduce flies in full- and quick-service restaurants and other food industry facilities by up to 50 percent. The Stealth Fly Station is a dark, reflective device that uses multiple stimulating characteristics to attract and eliminate flies around the exterior of a facility before they can become a problem inside. The device can be placed near common fly areas, such as dumpster corrals, to discreetly keep flies from interrupting daily operations. In addition, the Stealth Fly Station also helps reduce pesticide use, resulting in a lower impact and more sustainable approach for the environment. In addition, Ecolab also introduced an innovative new generation of its industry-leading Apex™ warewashing program. With automatic tracking of key performance metrics, an intuitive new dishmachine monitor and actionable reporting and alarms, Apex2 offers food-
service operators maximum control over their warewashing program results and total costs. “To develop Apex2, we gathered thousands of data points by working with customers to understand their dayto-day warewashing challenges and how we can make the process better,” said Nicolas Granucci, Vice President for Institutional Foodservice Marketing. “The result is a program that offers dramatically improved simplicity, efficiency and ultimately, superior results.” The innovative features of Apex2 allow operators to easily gain greater visibility into their dishwashing performance. Key metrics including wash and rinse temperatures, detergent levels and wash-tank change-outs are tracked automatically, making it simple to pinpoint where and when issues occur. Actionable alarms on the high-definition monitor show dish room staff exactly what needs to occur to maintain peak performance. n
Cintas Identifies Best Ways to Prevent Slip and Fall Accidents in Foodservices
To help foodservices operations prevent injuries and reduce liability, Cintas Corporation recently issued a list of best practices for reducing slip and fall accidents. These practices are also intended to assist foodservices operators as they prepare to meet the new standards that are expected to be released by the American National Standards Institute later this year. “CNA research shows that the single most important factor in determining the slip resistance of a floor is how it’s cleaned and maintained, not the floor’s type, finish or cleaner,” said Dave Ludwin, General and Products Liability Risk Control Director at commercial insurance company CNA. “Consequently, foodservices operators need to make sure they have the right program in place to protect their employees and reduce their exposure to potential
liability claims.” According to data compiled by CNA, slip and fall accidents account for more than 21 percent of Worker’s Compensation Claims and 59 percent of general liability claim costs. ANSI is currently vetting several standards to help measure the effectiveness of floor care maintenance programs with the goal of improving floor traction and reducing these injuries. The upcoming standards will outline floor safety procedures ranging from walkway auditing to floor safety management programs. Foodservice operators can anticipate these new standards to take effect within the next few months. To prepare for the standards and to assist in the development of a safe floor program, Cintas recommends that foodservices operators follow the following steps:
Make sure to select the best floor material for the area. Consider high traction floor surfaces for areas where water or grease might gather, such as around dishwashers or grill areas. When cleaning floors, identify the right product for the job. Cleaners effective in cleaning up grease might not be as effective in cleaning up soils with fatty acids, which could result in a slippery surface. Use the proper cleaner for the type of soil targeted. Also, make sure to employ proper cleaning tools and supplies. Tools such as microfiber mops utilize less water, reducing the amount of water required to clean up spills, and thus further eliminating opportunities for slip and fall hazards. Develop a written protocol for floor maintenance. For consistency in the floor cleaning program, outline the program in
writing so everyone knows exactly how the floor should be cleaned throughout different parts of the restaurant. In addition, establish a floor cleaning schedule. Identify frequencies for all levels of floor cleaning, from daily maintenance procedures to deep cleaning. Finally, train staff on floor cleaning protocol. Demonstrate procedures for placing and cleaning matting, cleaning floors and maintaining the cleaning equipment. If an automated chemical dispensing system is not available, be sure to include training on the proper dilution and handling of chemicals. And follow up to ensure protocol is followed. Hold staff accountable. Conduct scheduled and surprise audits to inspect floor cleanliness, and identify if staff are following the proper procedures. n
KSS Fuels Launches New Cloud-Based Retail Fuels Pricing Solution
KSS Fuels recently announced the release of PriceNet Cloud, the latest addition to the company’s suite of pricing intelligence solutions. PriceNet Cloud is well-suited to fuel retailers who want to benefit from an enterprise-scale fuels pricing solution without the associated capital investment and need for IT maintenance resources. PriceNet Cloud offers all of the capability of the on-premise PriceNet solution implemented within 30 days and fully integrated with existing retail site systems. Using the latest cloud technology and designed with sufficient scale to support hun22
dreds of users and thousands of sites, PriceNet Cloud is delivered with the highest levels of security, data protection and availability, meeting acknowledged global industry standards to reassure clients their information is easily and quickly available within a secure environment. The solution is competitively priced and available through a monthly subscription model. “With PriceNet Cloud we’re addressing client demand for automated and intelligent fuels pricing solutions which can be quickly implemented, via a monthly subscription that avoids up-front investment
and internal IT resources and lowers the cost of ownership,” said Bob Stein, President and CEO of KSS Fuels. “The new deployment model offers the same PriceNet promise of fast response to market conditions, better control over volumes and improved margins for an all-in monthly fee. PriceNet Cloud enables us to extend our pricing and industry expertise and a very efficient pricing platform to fuel retailers.” PriceNet Cloud is ideal for fuel retailers who want to enhance their fuel pricing capabilities without significant up
front cost or IT effort. It can be deployed in a short time-frame, does not require a sophisticated IT infrastructure and is accessible from anywhere through a wireless interface. Its key functionalities include integration with leading point of sale and signage vendors, business discovery analytics, alerts and messaging functionality, pricing science, standard and customizable pricing rules, compliancy module and price optimization capability. Uniquely, the product also offers the ability for site operators to update competitive information locally. n
BUYERS GUIDE CAR CARE PROD U CT S This listing is compiled from a survey of products conducted by Convenience Retailer.
Wearever Platinum Premium Brake Pads
Eagle One EnviroShine Products
Advance Auto Parts recently introduced Wearever Platinum™, an exclusive line of premium ceramic brake pads, proven in independent third-party tests to deliver a quieter stop and better stopping power than other leading brands. Wearever Platinum features SoundLock Plus™ technology, which employs a fourlayer shim, designed specifically for silent braking. SoundLock Plus’ diamond-patterned outer rubber layer locks in sound while a premium-grade inner steel adds rigidity, a second inner rubber layer further suppresses noise and an acrylic adhesive layer absorbs vibration. “We know that noise and stopping power are the key causes for customer comebacks,” said Advance Senior Vice President of Merchandising and Marketing Charles Tyson. “Wearever Platinum is specifically engineered to address those issues.” Sold exclusively through Advance Auto Parts, Wearever Platinum Premium Brake Pads are available both to consumers and automotive professionals.
In response to a growing number of auto enthusiasts who want environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional car-care products, Eagle One™ recently rolled out a new line of appearance products under the EnviroShine™ brand. The four new products, already on shelves at several major nationwide retailers are the first line of “green” automotive appearance products to be launched nationally by a major automotive brand. The four new products include EnviroShine Wheel & Tire Cleaner, Tire Shine, Car Wash and Glass Cleaner. “Research shows that nearly 80 percent of auto enthusiasts want eco-friendly car-care products, but they won’t sacrifice performance to get them,” said Rob McCarter, Eagle One brand manager. “We saw that as an opportunity to develop a product line that delivers the same great Eagle One performance that consumers know and trust, while also helping the environment.” Eagle One Enviroshine products are free of harsh acids, solvents, phosphates and other chemicals that can be harmful to humans and animals.
Advance Auto Parts 877.238.2623 www.advancepro2pro.com
Pennzoil Ultra 0W-40
Eagle One 800.432.4531 www.eagleone.com
Pennzoil Ultra™ 0W-40 synthetic motor oil is specifically designed to keep SRT engines running clean. The advanced, co-engineered formulation is the result of months of collaboration between Pennzoil scientists and Chrysler Group engineers to develop a motor oil that provides the performance that SRT owners have come to expect from their high-tech engines. “SRT owners understand the importance of performance and craftsmanship like few others,” said Ralph V. Gilles, President and Chief Executive Officer of SRT Brand and Motorsports, Chrysler Group LLC. “They know clean engines are more efficient, better protected and perform at the demanding levels we’ve designed our SRT engines to operate.” The proprietary synthetic formula of Pennzoil Ultra motor oil is designed to exceed the toughest industry standards, so it will run through the engine of all new SRT vehicles when they roll off the factory line.
Little Trees, producer of the iconic tree-shaped car air freshener, has recently introduced two new items to its product portfolio. Woven Whites are a clean cotton fragrance composed of citrus and floral notes, with a hint of vanilla. This light fragrance still has the longevity that consumers have come to expect from Little Trees. In addition, Strength Little Trees are the newest addition to the company’s popular Sentiment line of mood-enhancing air fresheners. The Strength design features the bamboo plant, which symbolizes strength in many cultures, and a specially chosen fragrance designed to help create an enhanced mood. The color, fragrance and design of these products, combined with the proven selling power of the Little Tree company name ensure that these new air fresheners will fly off retail shelves.
Pennzoil 800.237.8645 www.pennzoil.com
Little Trees 800.545.5454 www.little-trees.com
Autoglym Valet Kit
Bar’s Leaks Liquid Aluminum
The Autoglym Valet Kit includes everything needed for proper vehicle detailing inside and out, all contained in a smartly designed package that allows for easy storage and transportation. The kit includes six 500 ml bottles of Autoglym products (Bodyworks Shampoo Conditioner, Super Resin Polish, Fast Glass, Instant Tire Dressing, Vinyl & Rubber Care and Custom Wheel Cleaner), a Perfect Polish Cloth, Sponge and carrying case. Established in 1965, Autoglym has developed an unrivalled reputation for producing high-quality automotive care and detailing products. Across the globe, car care enthusiasts, vehicle manufacturers and distributors, bodyshops, valeting/detailing companies and transport operators trust Autoglym above all others. Autoglym's retail range is acknowledged by many of the world's most prestigious vehicle manufacturers, including Aston Martin Lagonda, Bentley, Jaguar and Land Rover.
Heater core leaks are becoming more common and increasingly expensive to repair. Bar’s Leaks® Liquid Aluminum™ Radiator & Heater Core Stop Leak™can save your customers money by chemically repairing many heater core leaks without the time-consuming and costly process of removing the vehicle dash. Bar’s Leaks Liquid Aluminum is specially formulated to fix heater core leaks, as well as other cooling system leaks, including those in plastic, aluminum and metal (copper/steel) radiators, gaskets and freeze plugs. The product contains the proprietary wetting agent Xtreme Cool™, which stops overheating, improves heat transfer and reduces coolant temperature to protect against future leaks. Bar’s Leaks Liquid Aluminum is effective in cars, trucks, vans, SUVs and RVs, and it is compatible with all types of coolants. It will not harm the cooling system when properly installed, nor will it clog the heater core.
3M Paint Restoration System
Little Trees Air Fresheners
Bar’s Leaks 810.603.1321 www.barsleaks.com
Goodyear DuraSeal is a yellow, gel-like rubber compound that instantly seals punctures of up to 1/4-inch in diameter in the tread area of the tire. As a nail enters the tire and reaches the tire’s inner liner, DuraSeal immediately surrounds the puncture to seal the leak. Goodyear’s DuraSeal Technology is available in drive and trailer tires for over-the-road applications, as well as in all-position tires for mixed service and waste-haul applications. “DuraSeal Technology is the industry’s first and only built-in tire sealant, and is designed for multiple punctures while maintaining tire pressure,” said Tim Miller, Marketing Communications Manager for Goodyear Commercial Tire Systems. “If a nail is pulled out, DuraSeal can instantly fill the hole and keep air from escaping. People are amazed that a truck tire can seal itself.”
For those whose vehicles are beginning to show their age, the Paint Restoration System from 3M contains everything needed to bring a vehicle’s paint back to “like-new” condition. Each system includes 3M Scratch Remover Plus, 3M Shine Restorer and 3M Synthetic Wax Protectant. It also includes a patented scratch eraser pad and three levels of foam pads needed to deliver a great finish. The only tool a consumer needs for the job is a six-inch polisher, available at automotive and home improvement stores. The system is designed in simple 1-2-3 steps that take the guess work out of the project, even if the car owner has never done automotive repair previously. “Many car owners have extended the ownership of their cars due to the economy,” said Todd Mathes, automotive expert for 3M Car Care. “While a car still runs well, it can show its age with fading paint and scratches. Hand-applied waxes can only do so much. We applied our expertise in automotive paint restoration and developed a three-step process that allows consumers to restore their car’s finish inexpensively and deliver incredible results.” The Paint Restoration System is available at many retail locations for a suggested price of $59.99.
Goodyear 800.321.2136 www.goodyeartrucktires.com
3M 888.364.3577 www.3m.com
MARKETWATCH GIF T CA RDS A ND L OYALT Y PROGRAM S
SVM Cards Launches FuelCircle Gasoline Rewards Program
John Cullen, Vice President and General Manager of SVM Cards recently spoke to Convenience Retailer about the company’s new gasoline rewards business FuelCircle. CR: The timing of the FuelCircle launch seems perfect, as gas prices continue to skyrocket. How do consumers become a part of FuelCircle?
JC: Consumers become members of the FuelCircle program via a simple registration process that occurs in the lane at a participating FuelCircle retailer. FuelCircle does not require the issuance of a separate loyalty card as we have a database solution that will cross link the consumer’s existing retailer loyalty card information to a unique FuelCircle ID number. For retailers that do not have a loyalty card, we provide one or allow the consumer the option of registering with an alternate ID, like a phone number or
email address. These registration options are supported by the FuelCircle technology solution that is easily integrated into the retailer’s POS system.
CR: What benefits does FuelCircle offer enrolled consumers?
JC: The benefit to consumers is free gasoline. Once registered, they simply shop participating FuelCircle retailers where they earn and accumulate FuelCircle points and then redeem those points for gasoline at one of the 40,000 branded gasoline stations in our network, including Chevron, Texaco, BP, ARCO, Exxon, Mobil and Sunoco stations. CR: As a retailer, what are the benefits for me to participate?
JC: Recent research by Colloquy indicates that the average U.S. household is a
CITGO Introduces Loyalty Bucks Program
CITGO Petroleum Corp. knows that when it comes to its network of approximately 6,000 locally owned locations, a one-sizefits-all approach is not always the most effective option for its brand programs. For this reason, the company’s new CITGO Loyalty Bucks features the flexibility needed to adapt to the preferences of individual marketers and retailers. “We know that loyalty programs can generate an increase of up to 15 percent on inside sales volume and up to 10 percent in gallons at the pump, and we wanted to offer those kinds of advantages to our marketers and retailers,” said Alan Flagg, Gen-
eral Manager of Light Oils Marketing for CITGO. “However, we also know that one template wouldn’t work across the diverse CITGO network, so we built a platform with lots of options from which each business owner can choose what will work best for his or her market.” CITGO has partnered with three technology providers, Centego, Outsite Networks Loyalty Solutions and FIS Loyalty, to ensure that its marketers and retailers can select the best solution for their specific business goals. Each technology partner has certain strengths, such as growing inside sales or tying into grocery store pro-
member in 18 loyalty programs and active in eight. And our own research indicates they are avid participants in only two or three. Why the consumer apathy? We believe that the main culprit in the loyalty landscape today is anemic rewards. The coalition addresses this problem, as consumers can go about their everyday purchasing at FuelCircle merchants and accumulate rewards across the network. FuelCircle allows the retailer to fund rewards at a level that they can afford, which increases retailer ROI and improves promotion efficiency. Further, FuelCircle retailers of all types and sizes share in the positive halo-effect created as consumers redeem earned rewards for something they want and need—gasoline. CR: What sets FuelCircle apart from other fuel-based offerings?
JC: A number of things. First and fore-
motions. The flexible design of the CITGO Loyalty Bucks program provides marketers and retailers access to the provider that best matches their unique needs. To assist marketers in implementing the Loyalty Bucks program, CITGO has also teamed up with Exclusive Connection$, an expert in convenience store marketing programs. The Loyalty Accelerator Program that CITGO has developed with Exclusive Connection$ was built to provide marketers and retailers guidance through every step of the design and implementation of their loyalty program. Exclusive Connection$ will work with CITGO Marketers and Retailers to help them choose the right technology partner and create a loyalty
most, the nationwide network of trusted, branded gasoline partners. It is this network that has allowed us the opportunity to have a real dialogue with retailers that also have a national footprint and want to leverage the power of gasoline as an incentive. Second, we have built a low cost, royalty-free and technologically stable solution on both the issuance and redemption side of the equation. Lastly, FuelCircle has in its network, non-competing multi-channel retail participants that allow the retailers to stop sharing their customers with their competitors by leveraging the high value consumers place on fuel.
CR: How can interested retailers and consumers learn more about SVM’s FuelCircle rewards program?
JC: Those interested in the program can find out more about it at our website www.svmcards.net. n
program that is unique to them and aligns with their business processes and goals. In addition, the company will assist marketers and retailers in managing project implementation plans and also provide ongoing marketing support. “We know that our marketers and retailers will see measurable value from the CITGO Loyalty Bucks program,” said Flagg. “By partnering with Exclusive Connection$, we can make the whole experience streamlined and easy. The reason so many loyalty programs fail is that they are built from a static template. Our program offers options at every step of the way and support to help marketers and retailers make the best choices for them.” n
Growing E-gift Card Market Taking Retail Industry by Storm As gift card sales continue to grow in importance within the retail industry, consumer research shows that one of the biggest opportunities retailers have to capitalize on the gift card craze is through inserting themselves into the growing market for e-gift cards. In fact, according to one survey conducted earlier this year, an impressive 75 percent of retailers stated that they plan to devote more of their marketing budgets to the promotion of digital gifting and e-gift cards in 2012. “The digital age is booming. Smartphone adoption by consumers is overwhelming, and retailers are meeting these trends by investing in mobile capabilities and digital gifting,” said David Stone, 24
CEO of industry-leading digital gifting company CashStar. “Gift cards have reached more than $100 billion in annual sales in the United States, and this market is going digital.” CashStar provides the necessary resources to retailers, enabling them to offer electronic gift cards to their customers. Some of the biggest brands in retail have taken advantage of CashStar’s services. And if CashStar’s recent successes are any indication of the potential dominance of the growing digital gifting market, one can expect more and more retailers to jump on the e-gift card bandwagon. In the past year, CashStar grew more than 400 percent and more than doubled its number of
retail brand partners. Today the company now drives the majority of retail digital gift card programs in the country. “Reaching record growth numbers in 2011, CashStar continues to pave the way for innovative brands that are looking to reinvent gifting as they embrace the digital age,” said Stone. “Our market growth is skyrocketing as the retail industry continues its massive shift to digital gifting.” E-gift cards have become so popular in such a relatively short life span, in part because they enable customers to overcome what is perhaps the biggest drawback of giving traditional gift cards to loved ones: their impersonality. Now, leading retailers are leveraging Cash-
Star’s new digital gifting platform, enabling customers to personalize their digital gift cards with a custom message, video and photo, select the card denomination, and send it immediately or select a future day, up to a year in advance. “CashStar has not only recreated the personal gift giving experience online, we have improved the entire process evoking an emotional connection via video and other channels,” said Stone. “Online consumers expect usability and easy customization. CashStar brings an unmatched dynamic to digital gifting by providing the most features and personalization available in the industry, exceeding consumer demand and helping our retailers drive sales.” n
marketwatch Punchcard Mobile Loyalty Program Now Available to Smartphone Users Nationwide Punchcard, a mobile engagement and loyalty network, announced that the company’s new mobile loyalty program, available through a mobile app, is now available nationwide, giving consumers a simple way to get rewards from the businesses they frequent most. Punchcard gives smartphone users access to rewards from millions of businesses of all types, including specialty retailers, restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops and many others. The company has already revolutionized the retail landscape in Southern California where it debuted earlier this year, and it is now expecting to expand its impact to merchants and restaurants across the United States. Punchcard enables users to earn rewards in a simple and straightforward way. Retail customers first download the Punchcard app, “Punchcard—Official,” from the App Store or Android Market. After visiting a business, app users are invited to take a photo of the receipt at the point of purchase. Punchcard then verifies the pur-
chase, and the customer earns “punches” at his or her favorite shopping and dining spots. Each time a customer completes a punchcard at any business, he or she then earns a reward. In most cases, this reward is cash back towards a future purchase, but it can also be a free meal, piece of clothing, haircut or gift card. In essence, the Punchcard app has the potential to replace the stacks of individual loyalty cards many people carry with them in their wallets and are expected to have with them each time they make a retail purchase. “We’re thrilled to make the Punchcard app available to benefit both consumers and merchants throughout the United States,” said Punchcard CEO Andy Steuer. “Consumers get rewarded with cash back for shopping at the places they love. Loyal customers are the lifeblood to a local business, and Punchcard provides a way for those businesses to increase the revenue generated from these customers while shortening the con-
sumer re-purchase cycle. The result is more revenue in a shorter period of time at lower costs. It's a win-win for both the consumer and merchant.” The lines between online and offline are blurring and Punchcard is at an inflection point in the market where consumers use their mobile phones several times an hour, including when they are shopping or eating at their favorite restaurants. Punchcard provides a way for consumers to get rewarded for being loyal customers, and for merchants to be able to re-acquire those customers on a more cost effective basis. “I think Punchcard is spot-on with the direction of the marketplace with regard to where loyalty programs are headed,” said Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates Inc., a leading research and consulting firm that tracks local advertising. “Punchcard incorporates the basic elements of social marketing with frequent customer rewards to broaden the opportunities for local businesses, and to grow revenues from their most important customer base.” n
TravelCenters of America Unveils Slate of Loyalty Programs, Rewards for Professional Drivers TravelCenters of America is introducing a series of ways for professional drivers to save, both when shopping in the company’s stores and also while on the road. First, the company is creating two major savings programs for professional drivers available at both TA stores and Petro Stopping Centers. As of March, professional drivers who are members of the UltraONE Driver Rewards program receive special Member Pricing discounts on many travel store items. Drivers enrolled in the program will receive up to 40 percent off on as many as 100 popular items each month. These discounts are not available to customers who are not UltraOne members. Additionally, coming this May, TA and Petro customers will soon be able to save on bulk-package purchases with the “Buy Big & Save” program. Several select TA and Petro locations will now offer specialized supplies and bulk packaged products
to help professional drivers save on the items they need and buy most often. TA is also holding a promotion specifically aimed towards helping professional drivers keep on top of their vehicle maintenance. Through the new “Your Oil Rewards” promotion, available at TA and Petro truck service centers, with each fullprice oil change purchased, UltraOne members earn an “Oil Visit” credit, which can be redeemed on their next visit or saved up. One “Oil Visit” translates to $25 off the next oil change. However, by accumulating multiple “Oil Visits,” one can get as much as $200 off. “The ‘Your Oil Rewards’ promotion is a way of encouraging good preventative maintenance practices and saving our customers money,” said Tom O’Brien, President and CEO of TravelCenters. “Our truck service bays are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and we have more than
2,500 technicians across the country.” Finally, TA is also launching an expanded roadside breakdown recovery service called RoadSquad Connect. RoadSquad Connect provides professional drivers nationwide coverage for emergency roadside services, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The new RoadSquad Connect program will now include access to thousands of additional qualified service providers and service trucks. “RoadSquad Connect is a unique offering in the emergency roadside assistance category of services,” said O’Brien. “Backed by TA and Petro know-how and experience, RoadSquad Connect is more than just a call center. Since it’s built around the RoadSquad fleet of trucks and technicians, RoadSquad Connect gives drivers a combination of speed, convenience, and low cost that simply cannot be found with other emergency breakdown services.” n
QuikTrip Fuel Rewards Program Target of Lawsuit Excentus Corporation has filed a patent and trademark infringement lawsuit against QuikTrip Corporation, Midax Inc. and several companies operating Price Chopper grocery stores. The suit, filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri for unspecified damages, alleges among other things that the Chopper Shopper Fuel Rewards program infringes on patents owned by Excentus as well as its federallyregistered “Fuel Rewards” trademark. Currently, Price Chopper operates a partnership with QuikTrip, providing fuel rewards to the grocery store’s customers. Members of the companies’ Fuel Rewards Program earn a discount of five cents per gallon at QuikTrip locations with every 50 dollars spent on qualifying items at Price Chopper stores. In 2008, Excentus acquired its initial patent from Autogas for the “Fuel Rewards” trademark. It has since been awarded additional patents and has numerous patent applications pending at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In 2009, Excentus filed a similar patent infringement suit against Safeway for its Power Pump Rewards program. That suit was settled in 2010, and the program has been discontinued. Soon afterward, Excentus filed a lawsuit against Kroger that alleges among other things patent infringement and theft of trade secrets regarding Kroger’s own fuel loyalty program. This lawsuit remains pending in Ohio. “QuikTrip contacted us regarding obtaining technology and services for the fuel discount loyalty programs they were developing for Price Chopper [Kansas City] and others, and we did our best to work with them to avoid this situation,” said Dickson Perry, Founder and CEO of Excentus. “Since they have chosen to continue without a license for our patents or our ‘Fuel Rewards’ trademark, they left us no choice but to file this suit as we are very serious about protecting our intellectual property.” n
Survey Reveals Growing Concern Over Costs of Loyalty Programs Managing reward liability and its spiraling costs has become the single largest challenge for the customer loyalty program industry, making the need for collaboration between reward providers and merchants greater than ever. This is according to a new survey from Swift Exchange, an innovative leader in the loyalty programs field. When asked how they would rate the challenge of managing liability and program costs in today’s environment, virtually half of survey respondents 26
(49 percent) said that managing costs has become “very challenging,” while 38 percent believe managing costs has definitely become “more challenging.” When asked to assess the current state of collaboration between reward providers and merchants, 58 percent of respondents said they saw a “much greater” need for collaboration. Among the subset of respondents who identified themselves as reward providers, when asked what they would most like to change about their loyalty
programs, two-thirds of respondents identified the need for expanding strategic relationships, followed by better differentiation (24 percent) and expanded redemption capabilities (19 percent). Asked to rate the typical loyalty program’s effectiveness at customer retention, a combined 67 percent responded with either an “acceptable” or “low” rating. When asked to rank the industry on its success at customer acquisition, a combined 73 percent responded with
either an “acceptable” or “low” rating. “Modern-day loyalty programs have reached the limits of their current technology and methodology,” said Richard Postrel, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Swift Exchange. “Fundamental macro-economic issues must be addressed in order to advance this industry into the next generation. What we are seeing is an industry that is ripe for transformation. This is a wake-up call for the entire reward and loyalty industry.” n
top tech Acumera Provides Valuable IT Tools for Multi-Site Retailers Despite the fact that the company has been providing valuable Internet technology tools to convenience retailers for a decade, Texas-based Acumera may still be an unknown brand name to many, including even some who are intimately involved in the convenience store industry. This has in fact been a part of the company’s design, as it has been vital to Acumera’s continued growth to protect the cutting-edge technology it has pioneered from being co-opted by the company’s competitors. However, this is about the change in the coming months, as Acumera’s confirmed intellectual property rights over its technology has finally put the company in a position to make a more concerted push towards publicizing itself on a grander scale, both within and outside of the convenience store industry. “Right now we are laser-focused on the convenience store space,” said Tom Yemington, Vice President of Business Development for Acumera. “I hope that we will become more well known in the…industry.” What Acumera offers multi-site merchants is the opportunity to collectively monitor a variety of different systems at a series of retail locations, all integrated into a single network. The company’s Trusted Connection Service serves as a secure, cloud-based method for retailers to con-
nect to all the machines that they need to monitor on a daily basis in order to make informed decisions regarding their business operations. Acumera works with convenience retailers to create and manage comprehensive networks, built to help maximize operational effectiveness, at the same time that it reduces cost to the retailer. Through Acumera’s Merchant Gateway, clients are able on a single screen to view a vast amount of valuable information, including everything from fuel prices to petroleum inventories to the temperatures of prepared foods. In fact, the Acumera AcuVigil Dashboard not only allows merchants to view operational data, but it also alerts the client when inventories reach critically low levels or when equipment fails or is out of compliance, thus minimizing downtime and maximizing profits. Although largely aimed at multi-site convenience retailers operating anywhere from 50 to 500 stores, Acumera technology can be useful even for merchants operating only a fraction of this number of retail locations. For example, a retailer who operates just fifteen stores, but under three separate brand names may have no choice but to operate with three separate and incompatible IT systems. “Each of the major brands says buy our market
Workstream HR Software Launches New Brand Identity, Website
software. Acumera provides a single network that meets the requirements of these big stores,” said Yemington. In addition to making the company and its products more visible in the marketplace, Acumera is also moving into a new phase for the company through a recently announced partnership with fellow IT company Liquid Networx. Liquid Networx is set to begin marketing private label versions of Acumera products as part of a bundle of IT lifecycle management services and security products. With all these changes already afoot for the company, Yemington promises even more major announcements from Acumera over the coming months. “Almost everything has a network connection or a way to become connected,” said Yemington. “One of our biggest challenges is finding what’s the next thing we can connect.” Clients can anticipate that as Acumera grows as a company, a variety of new machines will be integrated into the company’s network. n
Micros myCreations Retail and Supply Chain Software Ensures Foodservices Quality, Safety Food retailers, food manufacturers and quick-service restaurants across North America can bring their products to market more safely, quickly and efficiently, through employing innovative software solutions from MICROS Retail and Supply Chain. The company, a leading provider of product lifecycle management and food-safety compliance software, recently launched its myCreations portfolio in North America. A complete suite of integrated applications, myCreations enables food-industry clients to ensure that consumers get safe, highquality food products, bringing products to market faster, through better collaboration and innovation within the supply chain. In addition, myCreations helps foodservices providers protect their brands and achieve greater profitability through greatly improved efficiencies. Employing myCreations, food-industry clients can immediately access reliable data on product ingredients, ingredient sources and manufacturing processes to ensure a high level of product quality and to meet all regulatory compliance and quality standards. This serves to protect consumers and vastly reduce potential risk to their brands. In the event of a product recall, myCreations users can respond quickly and 28
reliably, with incident response time improved by as much as 90 percent. Based on the experiences of current clients around the world, myCreations has proven to deliver efficiency gains of up to 40 percent. Users of the software applications can overcome existing challenges to their businesses, such as inconsistent data input. For example, clients currently obtain product information from their suppliers through a variety of often slow methods. The data then has to be meticulously re-entered into their systems. Workflow tools employed within myCreations improve data entry speed by about 70 percent. MyCreations also delivers better data accuracy over fragmented and legacy internal systems, potentially automating processes that are currently done manually. Multiple processes are handled through a single portal, eliminating the need for multiple systems and addressing the issue of time-consuming access to limited, uncontrolled data. Approximately 60 percent of administration time is eliminated from the entire supplychain process. Both standard and tailored configurations are cloud-based to integrate into clients’ existing operations seamlessly and
easily, without the need to invest in additional IT resources and infrastructure. Any user can access myCreations via a secure Web connection, from any PC with Internet access and applicable security privileges. Clients can customize their home screen’s layout and content to meet their individual preferences, and the user interface is compatible with 27 different languages. “MICROS Retail and Supply Chain has been a global-leading provider of product lifecycle management and food-safety software since we introduced the first-ever PLM solution for private-label goods in 1995,” said Paul Woodward, CEO for MICROS Retail and Supply Chain. “Now, clients across North America can ensure greater food safety and higher quality for consumers utilizing our complete solutions that are specifically designed and developed for the food industry.” MICROS Retail and Supply Chain helps clients achieve desired results throughout the product lifecycle by providing ongoing education and training programs through its MICROS Academy. Courses are offered both in-person and online, and ongoing client support is available at any time, through a multi-lingual client call center. n
Human capital software and services provider Workstream Inc. recently announced the launch of its new corporate brand identity, HRsoft, including a contemporary logo, tagline and updated website. “HRsoft is a new brand to better define the value we deliver to employers. Our talent management solutions are gaining traction among employers who seek to tackle significant human capital issues, such as managing performance and compensation programs,” said John Long, CEO of HRsoft. “HRsoft gives employers the capability to improve business results through innovative cloud-based applications to manage human capital. What’s more, solutions are easy to use by managers and employees. Our ‘Talent Management Simplified’ tagline reflects this to differentiate HRsoft in the market.” Cloud-based solutions to manage critical human capital issues help employers to be more successful and yield a strong return on investment. In addition, HRsoft’s integrated talent management suite, TalentCenter, includes Performance Management, Compensation Management and Total Rewards statements. As one of the few software companies today totally focused on human capital, HRsoft seems poised for future growth. HRsoft’s strategy is to equip employers with the advanced capabilities needed to thrive and achieve more from human capital. Such capabilities include cloud-based, easily configurable solutions to meet an employer’s changing talent management needs. In addition, the company’s expandable applications seamlessly integrate with other HR systems. HRsoft’s solutions and expertise position the company to help employers improve the way they manage performance reviews, compensation planning and communication of total rewards to employees. Using the company’s Web-based tools to better align individual goals with company-wide strategic goals leads to improved business results. HRsoft’s compensation management solution enables employers to effectively base merit increases and bonuses on employee performance. Clients may choose individual modules or a suite of solutions to meet their current needs and expand them in the future. In addition, HRsoft’s solutions are characterized by their ease-of-use for managers and end-user employees. In fact, so simple to use, HRsoft’s Performance Management, Compensation Management and Total Rewards statements can typically be implemented in less than 60 days. Above all, HRsoft’s core strategy is to help managers use automation and technology to make better and faster HR-related business decisions. Learn more about the company at www.hrsoft.com. n
products pro du ctnew features
Balance Bar Company, one of America’s top five leading nutrition/energy bar makers is introducing Balance Bar Bare Blueberry Acai. The new flavor joins two other great-tasting Bare bars already on the market: Sweet & Salty Chocolate Almond and Sweet & Salty Peanut Butter. Bare Blueberry Acai is made with a crisp high-protein core, simple sweeteners, dried wild blueberries, sunflower seeds and acai juice powder. A yogurt coating along the bottom adds a hint of sweetness, and the rolled oats on top bring an extra crunch to this great tasting vitamin- and mineral-rich nutritional bar. As with all Bare flavors, Blueberry Acai is the perfect balanced nutrition snack for active, outdoor or on-the-go occasions. Each bar has 200 calories, 19 vitamins and minerals, and is an excellent source of antioxidants. The subtly sweet and crunchy taste will appeal to kids, teens and adults, while keeping them balanced and energized throughout their busy days. Blueberry Acai Bare Balance Bars
Minute Maid Light Lemonade and new Light Pink Lemonade are making their retail debut in redesigned clear 59-oz. recyclable bottles that allow people to see the goodness inside. With fewer calories than Minute Maid’s regular juice drinks, these products are sure to please anyone, but especially those looking for lighter options. “Minute Maid Light Lemonade and new Minute Maid Light Pink Lemonade offer people a lighter way to enjoy the refreshing and delicious taste of lemonade,” said Charles Torrey, Vice President of Marketing for Minute Maid. “And they’re packed with great Minute Maid flavor, so your tongue will never know they have only 15 calories per serving.” Minute Maid Light Lemonades are now available in the chilled juice sections of retail stores across the country. Both flavors are perfect to share while spending time with friends and family or to enjoy when stealing a moment for yourself. Minute Maid Light Lemonade
The Coca Cola Company 800.438.2653 www.minutemaid.com
The days of racing home for relief after an evening at the all-you-can eat BBQ joint are now over. With Pepto-Bismol To-Go, a new Procter & Gamble product, people can get five-symptom relief from the longstanding, reliable brand wherever life takes them. Pepto-Bismol To-Go is the ultimate travel sidekick, with its discreet portability. It can fit comfortably in a pocket, clutch, gym bag, carry-on or beach bag, as well as in the glove box of your car. Pepto-Bismol To-Go will help users celebrate life without unfortunate disruptions, rescuing them if they happen to overdo it with food and drink. “For more than 100 years people have relied on Pepto as an athome rescue brand for those times when they overdo it. However, many of our consumers aren’t at home when they experience the first signs of a stomach upset,” said Phil McWaters, brand manager for Pepto-Bismol. “Pepto-Bismol To-Go can save users from their stomach troubles, wherever the road happens to take them.” Pepto-Bismol To-Go
Proctor & Gamble www.pepto-bismol.com
America, your dreams have come true. After months of speculation and mouthwatering rumors, Nestlé® Crunch® recently began marketing three new flavors of its iconic candy bar, inspired by three famous varieties of Girl Scout Cookies. The new candy bars, produced under license from Girl Scouts of the USA, come in three varieties: Thin Mints, which feature dark chocolate cookie wafers and mint chocolate cream, Caramel & Coconut, featuring cookie wafers layered with coconut caramel crème, chewy caramel and toasted coconut, and Peanut Butter Crème, featuring cookie wafers layered with smooth peanut butter crème. Nestlé Crunch Girl Scout Candy Bars will be available through September as a limited edition product. They will be sold at participating retail stores nationwide. Nestlé Crunch Girl Scout Candy Bars
Marking the biggest innovation for Tums in more than 80 years, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare North America recently announced the launch of TUMS Freshers, a new product which works to provide fast heartburn relief as well as fresh breath. A first for the product line, Tums Freshers includes a unique high impact cooling flavor designed to freshen breath. In addition, the product’s new tablet size, 40 percent smaller than regular Tums, makes it conveniently portable. Ninety-four percent of heartburn sufferers experience heartburn and bad breath at the same time, which may negatively impact them during significant social situations where food is involved. Tums Freshers is designed to help consumers through these tricky situations, as well as to ensure personal comfort. Tums Freshers
Nestlé Crunch www.nestlecrunch.com
Balance Bar Company www.balance.com
Heineken Indio, a unique dark beer brewed and sold in Mexico since 1893, will now be available in the United States, beginning in eight key markets in Calif., Texas and Ill. The 12-oz. bottled dark Mexican beer is well known for its malt character and light caramel aroma. “Not only does the launch of Indio in the United States strengthen Heineken USA’s portfolio and strategic innovation platform, but it supports our ambition of becoming the leading beer company in the United States,” said Felix Palau, Vice President of Marketing for Indio. “Market segmentation continues to have a major impact on the industry, and Indio will use this trend to create a very specific campaign that speaks directly to the niche audiences’ interests and passions in life.” Indio’s marketing strategy will focus on Hispanic men 21-26 years old who are constantly in search for brands that understand their need to express their identity by creatively fusing urban and Latino cultures. Heineken Indio
Heineken USA 914.681.4100 www.heinekenusa.com
ARMA Energy SNX offers a line of snack foods with energy dosages on par with leading energy drinks. The company recently released two new products—Cobra Kettle Cooked BBQ Chips and Hellfire Hot & Spicy Tortilla Mix—both sure to give your snack time a boost. Cobra Smoked BBQ Potato chips are cut from the freshest potatoes, kettle cooked in sunflower oil and seasoned with chili pepper and maple sugar, delivering both a sweet and spicy flavor. Hellfire Hot & Spicy Tortilla Mix is a carefully selected assortment of almonds, peanuts, pepitas and corn sticks mixed with chipotle and paprika, topped off with cheddar and romano. It’s a hot and spicy party mix with a zesty Tex-Mex flavor. One bag of Cobra Kettle Cooked BBQ Potato Chips delivers more energy than a regular bag of kettle style potato chips. Infused with caffeine (70 milligrams), taurine (1000 milligrams) and a host of B-vitamins (70 milligrams), it is comparable to the leading energy drink. Whether you’re snacking at work or barbecuing with friends this summer, Arma Energy delivers the charge you need to wage the war on fatigue and hunger.
SVM, the global leader in gift cards for businesses, continues its market-leading tradition in developing innovative products for use in reward and promotional programs. Gasoline promotional cards offer businesses unique features to incentivize and reward customer behavior, while also controlling their marketing and promotional campaigns and budgets. Gasoline promotional cards combine the attractiveness of gasoline as a reward currency, the convenience of being able to pay for gasoline at the pump and the flexibility of expiration dates to create an attractive reward solution. Businesses can now create compelling marketing campaigns using gasoline cards with defined durations, controlled costs and nationwide coverage for their promotional and incentive programs. The applications for gasoline promotional cards apply across all businesses and industries, including grocery, retail, services, manufacturing and more. Co-branding and card customization options are also available. For additional promotional products, SVM provides gasoline gift cards from all the major oil companies in the United States, along with Award Codes and e-Gift Cards.
Arma Energy Snx 877.851.ARMA www.armaenergysnx.com
SVM, LP 847.553.9105 www.svmcards.net
SVM Gasoline Promotional Cards Arma Energy SNX
UPCOMING EVENTS WHEN
June 29-July 2
NACS Global Forum
Various locations São Paulo, Brazil
SIGMA Summer Legislative Meeting
Westin Georgetown Washington, D.C.
July 29-Aug. 2
NACS Leadership Executive Program
Cornell University Ithaca, NY
Georgia World Congress Center Atlanta, GA
NACDS Pharmacy & Technology Conference
Colorado Convention Center Denver, CO
Philadelphia National Candy Gift & Gourmet Show
Atlantic City Convention Center Atlantic City, NJ
ANWA Summit & Business Exchange
Ritz Carlton Amelia Island, FL
Pacific Oil Conference and Trade Show
Grand Sierra Resort & Casino Reno, NV
Insight NACS Future of Convenience 2012
British Library London, England
LEAD Marketing Conference
Westin O’Hare Chicago, IL
Las Vegas Convention Center Las Vegas, NV
Inter Bev 2012
Sands Expo Center Las Vegas, NV
The Convenience U CARWACS Show Calgary2012
The BMO Centre Calgary, AB
Southern Convenience Store & Petroleum Show
Macon Marriott Centreplex Macon, GA
Georgia World Congress Center Atlanta, GA