Single Store Owner

DEC 2016

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16 / Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner / DECEMBER 2016 planograms. McLane publishes a quarterly Strategic Merchandising Solutions magazine that's filled with category updates, merchandising tips, planogram examples, and more. Local Flavor Matters Beyond the national distributors like Core-Mark and McLane, single-store operators can still make strides in category management — albeit to perhaps a less sophisticated extent — with local distributors, which they very much rely on for localized trends and flavor. Marylou Mendez, owner of Plaza Chevron in Costa Mesa, Calif., praises her local distributor for being right in step with the recent popularity of the Quest Bar and Lenny and Larry's Protein Cookies, and helping her bring these products into her stores in all flavors. "I can get items like these much quicker at the local distribution level," she said. Craft beer is another category that is very local- ized and dependent on local distributors, especially in Southern California where San Diego beer is all the rage now, said Mendez. Echoing this, Will Carne, owner of single store Nanoseconds in Escanaba, Mich., said he gets some merchandising input from his local beer distributors who are dialed in to the local breweries in town — what's selling now and what is up-and-coming. These local wholesaler/distributor relationships are growing in importance to the independents' abil- ity to compete and thrive. With or without a supply partner, however, in- dustry experts say single stores can't be naïve to the overall category management process. Strategy From Within As category management grows in all corners of retail, the independent c-store can grow with it, in its own little corner. Whether or not independent convenience store owners utilize the more sophisti- First, the McLane Virtual Trade Show is an Internet-based trade show that enables retailers to review and order products from dozens of leading manufacturers without the expense, time loss or hassles of traveling to live trade shows. Using any standard browser, single stores can see and learn about a variety of new products and promotions in seconds — and even take advantage of special pricing, bundle deals or volume discounts; the exact same deals the larger chains get. Other advantages of this tool for operators include: • Staying ahead of seasons and trends with easy access to information about new products and suppliers. • Creating multiple distribution dates, allowing large product purchases to be delivered over time instead of all at once, freeing up valuable storage space at the store. • Planning your purchases months in advance, enabling you to focus on advertising while receiving the deepest discounts from the manu- facturer community. • Many virtual shows are run in conjunction with live trade shows, providing retailers extra time to take advantage of the special offers. Second, Live-Image Planograms is another category power tool offered by McLane that can be utilized by single-store operators. Working together with the McLane Space Management Team, opera- tors can leverage the distributor's extensive category management expertise and research to identify items that should be added or deleted from the current product mix. By using these planograms, operators have the ability to design their store shelves to deliver a bigger impact and higher sales while limiting out- of-stocks, according to the company. Finally, the McLane Strategic Merchandising Portal offers in-depth trends, insights and informa- tion on key categories, as well as quarterly updated Category Management Dos According to industry experts, these are the foundational category management must-dos for independent operators: • Know your key categories. • Develop a strategic plan for your key categories. • Investigate how large distributors can work with you. • Approach local distributors for unique store "flavor" ideas. • Require more of your suppliers when they bring in new products or are trying to sell you something. Ask questions and demand fact-based recommendations. • Learn to leverage supplier partner insights to help you make category decisions. • Don't be afraid to try something new; just be sure and track it. Cover Story

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