Single Store Owner

JAN-FEB 2016

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the hub 18 / Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner / JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016 In addition to working with retailers on display options, distributors sup- port the convenience channel with instruc- tions on how to receive and store the products in order to have the "best-look- ing and longest shelf- life possible," Kuncl maintained. For instance, Eby-Brown publishes an operations guide (see page 16). Likewise, the wholesaler provides management tools to assist retailers with ordering to maximize sales and minimize waste. McLane has three programs for fresh/foodser- vice: its PLUS equipment program, Fresh on the Go, and McLane Kitchen. "From cold-chain processes to ensure top-quality product, to special technol- ogy which enables McLane to shave time off of the supply chain process, McLane's dedication to fresh in the convenience store industry continues to evolve as McLane strives to keep customers at the forefront of the fresh/foodservice success," stated Veale. At Core-Mark, the "strongest program for fresh is the fresh merchandiser/cooler assistance program," according to Barry. Its Fresh Food Fast cooler pro- gram offers several sizes of open-air coolers con- taining fresh chilled beverages, fresh-cut fruit, fresh sandwiches, yogurt and salad. "Whether next to the register, on a wall or as an endcap, we provide solutions that are a low invest- ment for retailers — we help offset the cost of the unit to get them into the fresh business," Barry said. Core-Mark also has a program whereby it will work with a cooler manufacturer to "get an awesome deal on a designer, advanced cooler for the retailer if it has the space." The bottom line for the convenience store in- dustry's single-store owners is that they don't have to go all out in fresh food, especially initially, to be in the game. "Foodservice is an ambiguous and often intimi- dating category for the convenience operator," said Veale. "It's important that each operator understand that even if they don't want to be a 'restaurant that sells gas,' there is foot traffic to be attracted and dol- lars to be garnered from planning and implementing a successful foodservice program of any level/depth. No matter the level of foodservice program being implemented, quality and consistency are key to establishing a customer base." SSO spoils, you're not doing it right," Barry explained. Especially for independent retailers, Eby-Brown puts forth a word of caution that retailers should not expect to be profitable in the first week or even the first month of sales. "Customers are not used to the fresh offering right away, and it doesn't immediately become a destination," Kuncl said. "So if retailers are com- mitted, they can't let throwing away expired prod- uct deter them from their end goal of operating in fresh foodservice. "Everybody wants immediate gratification in the first week and in a fresh section, it does not happen that way. It really takes somewhere between 30 and 90 days to build sales and get the needed turns," she continued. "You can't get dis- couraged in that first month." Finding the Right Program C-stores can utilize their distributors' knowledge and input to find the right fresh food program or programs for their store. In the beginning, "they may only have one fruit cup SKU and one snack tray SKU, but as they start building the business and the customer base for fresh, they can expand to more SKUs and expand the flavor pro- files," explained Kuncl. She advises c-stores to talk to their distribu- tor about what fresh products they have available and what items would fit into their store based upon the frequen- cy of delivery. "Find out how they can support you on the various programs," she said. Eby-Brown has several program options under its Crisp Acres umbrella. "We have racks available for our whole fruits program, for example," Kuncl relayed. "We help retailers offset the cost of the rack by offering some free product as a way to help them get into it." An in-store home for fresh fruit can range from a basket at the checkout or a floor basket rack (a mini- mal investment in the $75-$100 range), to a refriger- ated case on the countertop (in the $500 range), to a cabinet floor display or endcap (in the $2,000 range), to an island display (the heartiest investment in the $10,000-$15,000 range). " There's going to be a learning curve with spoils, but you can't do this without spoils. If you don't have spoils, you're not doing it right. " —Jim Barry, COrE-marK " Customers are not used to the fresh ofering right away, and it doesn't immediately become a destination. So if retailers are committed, they can't let throwing away expired product deter them from their end goal of operating in fresh foodservice. " — SharOn KunCl, EBy-BrOWn

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