Single Store Owner

DEC 2016

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DECEMBER 2016 / singlestoreowner.com / 15 "Through a team of dedicated territory manag- ers, data analysts and category specialists with years of expertise in the convenience store industry, we deliver a store-specific marketing plan," Bratta said. "Beginning with a thorough survey of the store, comparison of neighborhood trends and demo- graphics, along with current store data analytics, Core-Mark's FMI Team will develop comprehensive and customized recommendations. The result will focus on driving foot traffic, and improving sales and profits." Mike Means, owner of Four Seasons Handy Market in Visalia, Calif., is one who can attest to this. "Awhile back, Core-Mark came in with software and took a bunch of notes on our store — what we car- ried, our price points and comps in the surrounding area — and it came back that we were really missing the boat on hanging bag candy," Means recalled. Now, the independent Four Seasons Handy Mar- ket has a four-foot section of pegged bag candy, with a high single-digit increase in profit and accompany- ing customer satisfaction. Core-Mark also encour- aged the successful additions of DVDs and sunglasses to the store. The distributor's product team also works to bring best-in-class solutions across what it calls the "critical categories," such as fresh foods, foodservice, bakery, produce, dairy and dispensed beverages, to help drive differentiation even at the single-store level. And another way Core-Mark helps independents focus more on customers is through its Vendor Consolidation Initiative (VCI), a program that consolidates many of the direct-store delivery (DSD) vendors onto Core-Mark trucks. This frees up store parking lots, reduces transactional costs at the store level, and decreases the number of check-ins. Big Resources Temple, Texas-based McLane Co. Inc. is another large convenience distributor that offers three value- added solutions for single stores that the company says gives them "the buying power and merchandis- ing resources of much larger competitors." W ho's minding your store or, more importantly, who's man- aging your categories? Category management — what Nielsen defines as a process that involves managing product categories as business units and customizing them to satisfy customer needs — is not just for the big guns (i.e. convenience store chains). Single-store owners are just as entitled to reap the benefits of increased profit and customer satisfaction that the practice is known for. However, single-store owners in the convenience channel do have somewhat of a double handicap. For one, even in the chain world, convenience stores have traditionally lagged other retail channels in cat- egory management techniques. Secondly, indepen- dent c-stores don't have a team of category managers like their chain counterparts do. Still, that doesn't mean single-store owners have to sacrifice the more sophisticated category manage- ment techniques. Rather, the savvy players often rely on large and medium wholesalers, local distributors, suppliers, franchisors and more to help keep them abreast of the latest products, trends and best prac- tices in the industry. The Large Rally for the Small It's a mistake to think large wholesalers/distribu- tors are only available for large chains. Core- Mark International Inc. is one large convenience distributor that gears programs for smaller players, too, including the single-store operator. "As larger chains continue to leverage data and analytics to improve their consumer offerings, the independent operator has to work that much harder to remain competitive in the world of continu- ally evolving consumer preferences," explained Jon Bratta, vice president of marketing for South San Francisco, Calif.-based Core-Mark. Core-Mark's Focused Marketing Initiative (FMI) is designed to arm retailers of all sizes, including independents, with information and resources to drive higher sales and profits. "As larger chains continue to leverage data and analytics to improve their consumer offerings, the independent operator has to work that much harder to remain competitive in the world of continually evolving consumer preferences." — JON BRATTA, CORE-MARK INTERNATIONAL

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