Electronic Wallet: The New Way to Pay

The thirsty teenager steps up to a bright red vending machine and takes out her mobile phone. She places the phone near a reader attached to the machine and a cold can of cola is immediately dispensed. This scene is repeated thousands of times each day for thirsty consumers—in Japan. For almost six years, Japanese

Meeting the Demand for Fresh Foods

Rx for Dinner   Walgreen’s drug chain recently announced that it will test market chilled foods at a dozen of its 7,500 stores this fall to determine if busy consumers are willing to stop at a drug store for a grab-and-go lunch or dinner. While full details of the test have not been made public,

Processing PCI Confusion

Many retailers are breathing a sigh of relief in regard to PCI, after this summer’s deadline for software compliance was relaxed after a request by the major oil companies, giving scrambling retailers a little more time to comply. But retailers be warned: chains that face a breach could still get hit with huge fines. “Some

Building a Proprietary Food Program

Ingredients for Success   The answer to the question, “How can c-store operators develop proprietary foodservice programs?” is, according to consultant Dan Bendall, founder and president of FoodStrategy Inc. in Rockville, Md., the same as what he would tell any would-be restaurateur. “You need the following ingredients to be successful, not just serve food.” They

Industry Shines in National Rankings

Inc. magazine has revealed its fourth annual Inc. 5000 list, an exclusive ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. “The leaders of the companies on this year’s Inc. 5000 have figured out how to grow their businesses during the longest recession since the Great Depression,” said Inc. President Bob LaPointe. “The 2010 Inc. 5000 showcases

Developing a Customized Foodservice Menu

Testing New Products   As new products earn their way onto your menu don’t forget about the equipment.   “Let’s say you’ve got a roller grill and you’ve been selling hot dogs forever,” explained Larry Miller, president of Miller Management & Consulting Services Inc. in Sanford, Fla. “Now somebody brings you a handheld Mexican product,

Lighting the Way to Profitability

Lighters can be an afterthought. There are relatively few manufacturers, everyone merchandises them near the front counter, liability issues have cut down on cheap products and differentiation is only skin deep. But even given the limited number of companies supplying products, lighters produce an excellent margin—between 40% and 60%—and sales have been steady for the

Outlook Strong for Salty Snacks

The recession of the past couple of years has not swayed consumers from their salty snack habits. In almost every type of data, salty snacks continue to thrive. According to NACS’ 2010 State of the Industry report, convenience store salty snack sales climbed 3.4%, while margin dollars climbed 4.8%. Since 2007, sales of salty snacks

Elevating Snack Sales

The weak economy has not taken much of a bite out of meat snack sales. Americans are loathe to sacrifice edible indulgences, even in times of financial crisis. All three NACS snacks categories—salty, packaged sweet and alternative—showed increases in average sales per store from 2008 to 2009, and showed gross-margin percentage and average gross-margin-dollar-per-store gains.

Growing Milk and Dairy Sales

Milk’s Bumpy Ride   In Mintel International’s new “Milk in the U.S.” report, senior analyst David Browne predicted a “bumpy ride” for the $11-billion milk market. Few categories, he noted, are as volatile as milk, which is reflected in the wild dollar sales swing during 2004-09.   “Volatility may return to the market in late

3 Rules of Social Media Marketing

Social networks like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have put the power of the media in the hands of the average citizen. Entrepreneurs, information marketers, and college students have learned that they can be the media for audiences both large and small. They have also learned that the nightly news and the traditional print media will

Tax Planning and the IRS

It is no secret that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audits relatively few tax returns. In fact, each year the IRS publishes the figures. The IRS’s own data reveals that slightly more than 1% of all tax returns filed were audited. The audit figures for the almost 10 million business returns filed in fiscal 2009,

Shopping for POS Solutions

Convenience to customers today means one-stop shopping, short lines at the counter and the ability to get in and out of a store fast. New integrated point-of-sale (POS) solutions are speeding up service and offering customers the convenience they demand thanks to faster processing times. What’s more, they’re saving operators money, labor and time. Finding

Tedeschi’s Showcases Pride and Tradition

At a Glance: Tedeschi Food Stores   Headquarters: Rockland, Mass. Founded: 1923 Store Count: 189 2009 Annual Revenue: More than $600 million Employees: 2,100 Markets of Operation: Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island Proprietary Brands: TD’s Deli and TD’s Express foodservice; Tedeschi Select groceries, snacks and beverages; and Tedeschi Fuel   While other chains

Dispensed Beverage Sales Show Promise

Cold and frozen beverages continue to be a mainstay of the convenience store offering—something consumers expect, enjoy, and increasingly want to tailor to their own individual tastes. Others have noticed. McDonald’s, for example, is making smoothies and other cold beverages part of its strategy for expanding its beverage offerings. Beginning in March, the burger giant

Food Sales Are On A Roll

Few things in life are easier than slapping together a sandwich. At home, that is. For c-store operators, operating a successful sandwich program is a complex matter that takes training, solid management, quality ingredients and, most of all, a commitment to a very different type of business than what they’re used to. Even then there

Shell Leaps into Loyalty

At a Glance: Shell’s Fuel Rewards Program   In an effort to bring value to its fuel customers and branded marketers, Shell Oil Products U.S., in July, launched its Grocery Rewards program with several of the nation’s largest supermarket brands in markets across the country. Customers earn one fuel point for every dollar spent at

Versatility Drives Pizza’s Popularity

Pizza Trends   There are approximately 62,000 pizzerias in the U.S. according to research firm Packaged Facts, with thousands of additional convenience stores and restaurants serving up fresh pizzas every day. And with good reason. Approximately 94% of the U.S. population eats pizza. More than three billion pizzas are sold in the U.S. each year,

Meeting the Demand for Fresh Foods

Donna Sitka knows her way around convenience store foodservice. She is the foodservice manager for the 13 Tiger Tote Food Stores that have foodservice. Until recently that foodservice consisted of a successful fried chicken operation branded Mama’s Kitchen Fried Chicken and a failed Mexican food venture. The Gonzales, Texas chain of 23 stores, operated by

Sweetening Cigar Sales

Small filtered cigarellos represent a real albeit temporary opportunity for convenience stores to rack up sales, so get going before the window of opportunity slams shut. These diminutive cigars have gained strong appeal among smokers laboring to afford cigarettes in the wake of multiple tobacco tax hikes. The price differential between filtered cigars and cigarettes

Coffee’s Popularity Surges

You wouldn’t think something as simple as coffee could prove to be so complex a phenomenon—or one so indispensable to Americans. Turns out America can see its reflection in a cup of coffee—its economic worries, its desires for variety and small-scale luxury, and even its hopes for a brighter future. All of that swirls together

Maintaining Strong Energy Sales

It had to happen sometime. Energy drinks, arguably the most popular convenience store product in the early-to-middle years of the decade, have begun to slow their sharp rise. Call it a correction, perhaps. A report released last month on the category by research firm Mintel showed that while growth in the category from 2005-2010 was

Driving Car Wash Profits

Increasing profits at the car wash depends on two tasks: drawing new customers and tempting current customers to increase the frequency of their visits. Determining which tactics will best accomplish these feats is where it gets complicated. Tactics that are working for many in the industry include touting loyalty programs, embarking on water-saving initiatives, participating

Delivering the Goods

Winning Over CPG Customers   According to a new study commissioned by MEI Computer Technology Group Inc., there is an increased emphasis on improving trade promotion effectiveness, as consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers look to bolster the value and return on their trade spend, and capture wallet share from consumers.   Despite the current climate,

Is Your Land At Risk?

The question of eminent domain may sound scary and far fetched, but as a convenience store owner your land could in fact be seized by a municipality. It happens more than you think, said noted attorney William Goldman, who works with landowners facing this threat to ensure they get what they deserve. Goldman, and his

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