Par Mar Fuel Promotion Goes Viral

Social networking provides a cost-effective way for the West Virginia company to interact with customers and drive traffic. By: Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. Par Mar Stores is wooing customers into its forecourts and onto its Facebook and Twitter pages with its Face to Face Fuel promotion, which launched in mid-January. The goal of the promotion

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Connecting With Your Customers

Loyalty and Facebook are changing the way convenience store retailers are communicating with today’s consumers. By Greg Ehrlich, Contributing Editor. Smaller convenience store chains with limited resources often sit on the sidelines waiting to see how their larger counterparts embrace new technologies. They wait to see whether the new initiatives make it past a pilot

Equipped for the Foodservice Battle

Whether operating a hot or cold food program, new equipment enhances quality, productivity and profitability. By Pat Pape, Contributing Editor. Over the past few years, the economic climate has discouraged many foodservice operators from investing in new equipment or product offerings. But that situation may be changing. Some convenience retailers are testing new tools and

MACS Bursts Onto the C-Store Scene

It’s been a busy first year for Mid-Atlantic Convenience Stores, which  is set to roll out a proprietary foodservice program and is developing a unified retail image. By: Erin Rigik, Associate Editor. Mid-Atlantic Convenience Stores (MACS) might not be the oldest company in the industry, but it’s certainly poised for growth in 2011 as it

Tracking Convenience Store Customers

MSA and Paradigm Sample, in partnership with Convenience Store Decisions, are drilling down with fine-grained questions to understand consumer shopping behavior. By Alice Greene, Management Science Associates (MSA). Grocery shopper purchase decisions are highly influenced by brand loyalty, just as price sensitivity prevails with warehouse club members. But what drives convenience-store shoppers’ decisions when it

Technology Driving Cash Management

Retailers are using smart safes and strict corporate policies to protect store employees against robbery attempts. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. While theft attempts are inevitable for convenience stores, especially those operating 24 hours, losing  hard-earned cash shouldn’t have to be. Since retail safes were introduced and combined with smarter money-handling practices, store owners have

Driving Business with Branding

As competition increases from drug stores, fast-food restaurants and coffeehouse, communicating a clear branding strategy is timely and vital. The forecourt is more important than ever, especially as gas prices are rising at a fast clip. Fewer trips mean fewer opportunities to market through the forecourt, so retailers must use every strategy to drive store

Renewed Optimism for Cigars

Amid the chaos of legislation and taxation, convenience store retailers remain optimistic they can retain OTP customers and even pick up some new ones trading down from cigarettes. By: Joe Bush, Contributing Editor. Not much been predictable about the tobacco category over the past 18 months. Huge taxes increases have renewed questions about just how

FDA Enforcement Has Started, What Should You Do?

The We Card Program offers seven steps c-store retailers need to take right now. By: Doug Anderson, President, The We Card Program. Before FDA regulations took effect, it was enough to prevent an underage tobacco sale. The question, “Is this customer old enough to buy tobacco?” ruled the day. That way of thinking falls short

Performance Reviews: All Pain, No Gain

Few activities in the workplace polarize like employee reviews. Some see them as subjective, one-sided and something companies should eliminate entirely. By Mel Kleiman, Contributing Editor. I despise performance reviews. In my 30-plus years of running a business, speaking and consulting, I’ve found that my personal distaste for performance reviews is shared by so many

Tapping the Power of Candy

Despite the economic slowdown, chocolate remains a relatively inexpensive indulgence for cautious consumers. By Howard Riell, Contributing Editor. Americans aren’t eating out as much as they used to, but they are eating more chocolate, which means the time has come for retailers who haven’t already done so to rethink, revamp and restock their chocolate sets.

Strong Outlook for Frozen Beverages

Fueled by new flavors and supported by high-quality equipment, the frozen category shows unlimited potential. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. It’s no secret that frozen beverages has been one of the hotter categories in the convenience store industry over the past three years. The good news is that NACS is predicting a sunny forecast for

In Touch with Foodservice

The latest technologies being used to manage c-store food programs—from touchscreens and POS ordering terminals to digital signage—are allowing marketers to enhance communications and streamline operations. By Pat Pape, Contributing Editor. A busy office worker steps up to the touchscreen terminal and gently presses a colored photo of a fresh deli sandwich. With a few

Choosing a Foodservice Model That Works

Is co-branding or a proprietary program the right choice for your chain? Retailers weigh in on what factors to consider before selecting a food brand. By: Erin Rigik, Associate Editor In today’s market, foodservice is crucial to attracting customers and maintaining strong sales. When adding foodservice, building a proprietary brand, co-branding and leasing space to

Lighting the Way to Energy Efficiency

While LEDs have helped many businesses reduce their carbon footprint, each retailer must decide if the endeavor is a worthy long-term investment. By: Erin Rigik, Associate Editor There’s not a business owner that wouldn’t love to save to money on utility costs while achieving energy efficiencies. LED lighting is allowing many convenience store chains to

Brewing a Coffee Strategy

Competition is percolating for gourmet sales, forcing c-store owners to elevate their offerings. By John Lofstock, Associate Editor. When people get more, they expect more—and that, as much as anything, helps to explain the challenge facing convenience store operators who emphasize coffee. Coffee quality at the retail level has improved to a point where what

Card Networks Still at Risk

Visa and MasterCard are among the payment providers targeted by “hacktivists”  calling into question the effectiveness of PCI compliance. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. The arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in the U.K. in early December got some people angry—and they took revenge. A day after Assange was arrested and denied bail in London

Driving New Business in a Recession

Collecting customer data, using anonymous surveys and flawless execution can all be effective in attracting repeat customers. By John Lofstock, Editor. Downward slanting sales, a depleted customer base, constant stress, worry and handwringing…if these symptoms are all too familiar, then it’s likely your store is suffering from “recessionitis,” a disease plaguing many good-intentioned retailers. Fortunately,

Retail Outlook: Cautiously Optimistic

Balvor survey highlights the foodservice concerns, focus and sentiments held by convenience store operators heading into 2011. By David Bishop, Contributing Editor. Cautious because a number of external factors, ranging from continued high unemployment, constrained consumer spending, and weak construction and housing markets are creating especially stiff headwinds for their core shopper base. Optimistic as

Getting A Bigger Piece of the Foodservice Pie

Quality, price point and flexibility continue to drive customer interest in pizza. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Americans are into upscale, premium and gourmet everything these days. So why would anyone expect pizza to be any different? The question is, “Can your pizza program measure up?” From exotic toppings to a variety of doughs, c-store

Turning a Foodservice Profit

The stagnant economy and hefty cigarette taxes have more c-store chains adding extra roller grill items to provide a greater array of hot food options at a value price. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor. Yes, the number of food items that can be prepared on roller grills—hot dogs, corn dogs, taquitos, stuffed breadsticks, kielbasa, grilled

Seizing Smokeless Opportunities

The tobacco customer is changing, along with consumers’ product options, which is driving  optimism for a strong 2011. By Pat Pape, Contributing Editor. Eric Choncko is a 31-year-old locomotive engineer living in North Texas. He also is a regular snuff user and a core convenience store customer. He chose that tobacco product over cigarettes several

Energy Powers Beverage Sales

The convenience of shots and the widespread  availability in c-stores have spurred the category’s success. By: Joe Bush, Contributing Editor. Energy shots remain the hottest product in the energy beverage sector. The emergence of the shot market was so fast that the products seemingly came out of nowhere, at a time when the typically strong

Crafting a Beer Strategy

Microbrew sales are growing at a strong clip, while wine and spirits are also poised for a strong 2011. by: Joe Bush, Contributing Editor The near-term future of wine and craft beer sales in convenience stores involves value, flavor and products geared toward specific ethnic groups. The Brewer Association reports that while overall beer sales

Effectively Managing the Supply Chain

Pressure to reduce costs means that wholesalers and distributors need to work with convenience store retailers to trim the fat from the industry’s distribution infrastructure. by, John Lofstock, Editor Cutting supply chain costs remains a challenge for convenience store chains large and small—one that, sooner or later, they must confront. Dealing with primary wholesalers, multiple

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