Convenience Store News

NOV 2016

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28 Convenience Store News | NOVEMBER 2016 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM in its larger- box stores. Drugstore chain CVS, meanwhile, is rolling out a new ethnic shopping experience dubbed "CVS y mas" in the Miami, Fla., area. "Thinking about some of the initiatives other chan- nels have and implementing them into convenience retail- ers is certainly not a far stretch," Gross encouraged. "I think we can have ethnic assortments and ethnic banners for certain convenience retailers, no question." Need even more inspiration? Well then, you're in luck. Automation is yet another prime area of opportunity for future innovation in the convenience store industry. "Using vending machines as a new point-of purchase can be really impactful,' the analyst explained. Some competitive retail channels are already dipping their toes into the automation pool, but leveraging it for sampling. For example, Walmart is testing a beauty sampling machine in a small number of Texas locations, while Sam's Club has a membership machine in almost all its stores where a consumer can swipe their membership card and get a new sample weekly. Bottom line: Today's fast-paced, ever-changing retail world is pushing convenience store operators — and all retailers — to keep their eyes always open and their minds always working to devise new, innovative ways to kick up the experiences they offer to consumers. Over the next four or five years, Gross predicts that several key areas will be changing for convenience retailers: trip types; meal solutions and prepared food; the future of the front end; retail health; a desire to experience; pricing and promotion; and more. Delivering on our brand promise to "Keep the Industry Ahead of What's Next," Convenience Store News devotes this month's cover story to innova- tion. Turn the page to see the C-store Industry Inspiration Board we've compiled to help get your creative juices flowing. And then keep flipping to learn about how consumers define innovation, and to see the best in store design innovation and new product innovation as we present the winners of this year's CSNews Store Design Contest and CSNews Best New Products Awards. around that premise. C-store operators should look outside the conve- nience industry, too, to find inspiration (i.e., grocery channel initiatives, quick-service restaurant initiatives). Pointing to the channel-blurring environment for the convenience trip, Gross noted that c-store operators can learn from disruptors "because they are now, increasingly so, a direct competitor to traditional con- venience retailers — we can apply a lot of the ideas they are implementing into our stores." COMPETITOR CUES Channel blurring today is being driven by format diversification that targets ethnic, small-format and discounter trips. New small-format concepts are par- ticularly ripe with innovation. Grocer H-E-B is starting to shift to urban, smaller-box stores but maintaining the same level of experience one would expect to find Chew on These Innovation Sound Bites "I personally think that it [innovation] is an overused term. Most changes that I see, including at QT, are evolutionary more than they are innovative. By that I mean, getting better every day or constant improvement. Whatever you want to call that constant improvement process, I think it is critical to a company's survival." — Chet Cadieux, president of QuikTrip Corp., CSNews' 2015 Retailer Innovator of the Year "Every day, we come to work with the vision of creating the Sheetz that will put the Sheetz as we know it today out of busi- ness. We've hired people who are creative and passionate about food, who embrace our fast pace and the pioneering mentality we have at Sheetz." — Joe Sheetz, CEO of Sheetz Inc., CSNews' 2014 Retailer Innovator of the Year "What has done to online retailing [in terms of speed of delivery and customizing offerings to customers] is going to hap- pen to brick-and-mortar retailing. Mobile offers us the opportunity to do tailored marketing to customer-specific needs and to target offers to them that resonate better than anyone else's." — Chris Gheysens, president and CEO of Wawa Inc., CSNews' 2013 Retailer Innovator of the Year "We wanted to break the mold, to be perceived as a neighborhood store that is beyond the typical convenience retailer and closer to a QSR [quick-service restaurant]." — Allison Moran, CEO of RaceTrac Petroleum, CSNews' 2012 Retailer Innovator of the Year cover story

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