While at the NACS Show 2014 in Las Vegas, we decided to visit local convenience store chains to see how they were performing. Here is a high level overview of what we found.
For years Walmart has lead the discount retail market space promising and delivering on “Every Day Low Prices”. But, despite their success and ability to operate on razor-thin margins, Walmart is not doing as well as they once were. But why? What has changed?
Increased Lateral Pressure
Target has always been a tough competitor for Walmart, although the two have slightly different consumers. Walmart focuses on offering the lowest prices to provide goods to lower/middle class consumers. Target on the other hand, provides slightly more expensive, yet still affordable products to middle class/lower-upper class customers. Although the two companies have different business goals and customers, they are still competitors and are constantly looking for ways in which to beat each other in the large superstore market.
At the beginning of the year, Kantar Retail conducted a study that compared prices between Walmart and Target. In the study, a basket full of the same products were gathered and prices were totaled:
The results showed that Target was a bit more expensive (3.8%), but not when the items were bought with Target’s REDcard. After applying REDcard discounts, Target was actually 1.4% cheaper than Walmart. This came as a huge shock, considering Walmart has always based their business on providing the lowest prices.
Granted, not all Target customers have a Target REDcard. But if the company can effectively market and grow REDcard usage, it could seriously cut into Walmart’s business.
Rise of Mid-Sized Stores
In addition to the retail threats from Target, Walmart is also feeling some hurt from smaller stores such as Walgreens and CVS. In the past, these stores were thought of as a convenience stores with a pharmacy. They had basic products for consumers to peruse while their prescriptions were being filled. But, that is not quite the case anymore.
Retail trends show that stores that focus on convenience are thriving as it is becoming a bigger and bigger factor for consumers. Shoppers are willing to sacrifice a bit on price, if they can get gas, groceries and prescription items all in one stop. As a result, these mid-sized stores are beefing up their products, making their stores more robust, and thus becoming a one-stop shop.
Walmart’s New Direction
Feeling the pressure in every direction, and following the growing trend of consumer convenience, Walmart is shrinking their stores in hopes of sizable gains. Currently Walmart is trying out three different types of smaller stores:
Currently 390 stores
Competitors: Safeway, Albertsons
Just the basics (some with pharmacies)
Currently 21 stores
Competitors: Walgreens, CVS
Walmart To Go
Convenience store with 6 gas pumps
Currently 1 store
Competitors: Wawa, Mapco, and many other c-store chains
Will it work?
Walmart’s hail-mary approach to retail will not work. The behemoth has the capital to get their feet wet, but lacks experience and small-store know-how. We saw this same desperation in the past when Walmart tried to capture additional revenue by changing their business model completely.
At the beginning of the recession, Walmart tried to gain middle-class consumers that were trying to save an extra buck. They tried classing up their stores with fashionable clothing and eye-grabbing products. This put Walmart in the ring with Target, the affordable-chic retailer, and it didn’t go so well. Instead of focusing on what had made them so successful, “everyday low prices,” Walmart turned their back to the blue-collar customers that made the company what it was.
Their most recent attempt to make a few extra dollars is no different. Convenience, like affordable-chic for Target, is more than just a trend. For long-time small store/c-store brands, convenience is their life and business model. Small stores know their mobile and on-the-go customers. They know what products work well in smaller stores. And, they have a leg up with thousands of stores and years of experience. Walmart can try and play in this arena for a while, but it’s not what they do best. It’s our belief that over time the retail giant will get squeezed out of the small store game, leaving convenience to the professionals.
Image Credit: Hilbers Incoporated
Are you a Zenput Mobile User? If so, you probably noticed a change in the app yesterday, Submission History. If you haven’t checked it out yet, here’s what you need to know!
Submission History serves two main purposes. Firstly, it allows you to keep track of your work. With a simple click you can see exactly what forms you’ve filled out and at what location. Secondly, it allows you to track new and ongoing issues at specific store locations. This helps you resolve problems before they are potentially costly.
What does this look like?
Submission History is accessible from two different channels, the Side Menu and from within a Form.
Accessing submission history through the Side Menu allows you to see the total list of all submissions.
Accessing Zenput from within a Form allows you to see all of your submissions from that specific location.
To learn more about Submission History click here!
Running promotions across various stores can feel overwhelming. There is typically a set up, directions from vendors, and clunky displays. Many moving and detailed parts can make running a successful promotion challenging, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In this blog post, we are going to give you 4 tips to simplify the process and ensure promotions are being run properly within your stores.
1) Go Mobile
The first step is to go mobile with your operations. Mobile devices such as phones, tablets, and iPads are a quick and easy way to collect information about your business.
We recommend that you create forms or surveys that are either available to your team online or preferably onan easy-to-use mobile app. Going mobile means that your team can alert you and your vendors of a problem before it becomes costly. This could be anything from a problem with a display, to a mishap with the planogram, to a shortage of the product.
2) Take Photos
Photos encourage accountability from both your team and your vendors. When running a new promotion, instruct your team to take photos on their phones, iPad’s, or tablets as soon as the promotional materials are set up. Doing so in a timely manner will ensure that your store was sent the correct flyers, packaging, and stands from the vendor. Additionally, this will guarantee that your team is properly and punctually running the promotion.
3) Use Real-time Reporting
No matter what service you use to go mobile, we suggest that the service keeps you updated in real-time. This means that as soon as your team snaps a photo or fills out your audit, you should see those stats, graphs, and images right away. Gathering instant information from your store fronts helps you proactively identify and correct problems before the promotion is over or the vendor gets upset.
4) Bridge Communication Gaps
You, your vendors, and your team need to know that promotions and products are managed properly. A good way to do that is to regularly share data with all parties. This helps vendors know whether or not the store needs more promotional materials, and ensures that your team is properly running the promotion.
We know running promotions is a lot of work. But, with these tips you will be able to pinpoint problems you never knew existed, keep vendors in the loop, and allow your business to be more agile and efficient.
Today we are happy to announce the release of our updated web app design! The purpose of the redesign is to ensure that users have a consistent and positive experience with Zenput, no matter if they use the web app on their computer, tablet, iPad or phone.
The design update was inspired by a significant increase in the number of users that access the web app through their mobile device. Exactly a year ago 18% of all web app users accessed Zenput through their mobile device. Today that number has grown to a whopping 30%. In order to best fit the needs of our increasingly mobile clients, the new design is catered to provide a seamless experience across all technology platforms.
The updated and intuitive design pivots around a new and easy-to-use side menu. From the side menu there is now a more natural flow through the product. Users can effortlessly create forms, analyze and share data, and formulate reports with a few simple clicks.
As a store owner, you need to ensure that your retail space is stocked properly and safely so that your team can provide essential products to your customers. Creating a Retail Storage Evaluation for your team to fill out regularly is a great way to ensure efficiency. In this blog post, we are going to outline 4 key elements you need to create a successful Retail Storage Evaluation.
1) Safety Check
First and foremost, you need to make sure that your storage area is safe. Are boxes stacked biggest to smallest and at a safe height? Are the shelves sturdy? Consistently send out an evaluation with safety checks and standards to your employees. You’ll experience two benefits in doing so. First, your standards for safety will be better understood by your staff; and second, because of clear expectations, your storage area will be much safer.
2) Keep it organized
At one point or another, we’ve all used a quick fix, hoping to appear organized. Whether that’s shoving dirty clothes under your bed, or stuffing your closet with junk. No one is immune. Although the room might look cleaner and more organized, it’s really not sustainable.
The same concept applies for your retail storage area. You could have a wonderfully organized store, but if products are jammed haphazardly in storage, you are not doing anyone a service. Finding products takes longer, which can frustrate both you, your team, and your customers.
So on your evaluation, make sure to include questions that follow your organizational plan. That could be anything from “the shoe boxes are organized from smallest to largest” to “shoes are kept separate from clothing”. Be firm with your plan and expectations.
3) Cleanliness Matters
How you take care of and clean your storage area is directly reflected in your store and products. If your storage area is dirty, smelly, and crammed, your customers will notice. Products on the shelf can be dusty, stinky, or even damaged. You don’t want that!
In order to make sure that the storage area is kept clean, create questions on your survey regarding cleanliness. Is the floor swept? Is there any standing water? Are the shelves dusted? Keep it tidy, and your customers will notice.
Pictures are the fastest way to see if shelves are safe, organized, and clean. That being said, don’t make your entire form a collage of photos.To really understand the whole story behind your store, we recommend a healthy blend of photos and data-driven questions.
We know running a retail space is difficult, and keeping track of all the details in a storage room can be especially challenging . So keep your life simple! Follow our tips and you’ll find that collecting information about your retail storage space will never been easier.
Gathering data about your company might seem intimidating or even down-right hard. You might have the knowledge of what information would be useful or even profitable to your business but getting a process set up can be intimidating. What vehicle should you use to collect data? It almost always comes down to a battle between the familiarity of paper or the convenience of mobile. Join us in a walk through both scenarios…
The Paper Route
Let’s say you own a chain of stores all across the country. It is your job to make sure that all locations are properly running promotions, maintaining a high level of service, and simply making money. So how do you ensure brand quality? Most people initially opt for the paper option, and it’s understandable as it’s what we all grew up on. But through our experience it is not always the best method, and let us explain why.
1) Formatting Nightmare
Paper can be a formatting nightmare. Whether you are typing a word doc, spreadsheet, or an email, trying to create a form that has good flow and organization is cumbersome. Changing sections and questions and rearranging wording is not intuitive and eats up time.
2) Juggling Act
It also becomes harder on your team. First they have to find a way to print your form ( if you’ve dealt with printers, you know it’s not always the easiest of tasks). Then, users have to drive to your store locations and juggle their coffee, phones, forms, pens, and keys. That just sounds like an accident waiting to happen.
3) Doing the Job Twice
Oh, and we haven’t even begun to dive into the challenge of getting the information back to you! Once they’ve done the hard work of gathering the data, your team then needs to retype it and email, text, or snail-mail it back to you. This means that the data they collected at your stores is aging before it even get’s to you.
4) YOU Crunch the Numbers
When you finally receive the data, you then have fun task of organizing and analyzing the information. This takes time. Even if you are diligent and speedy with the data, it’s still days, weeks and sometimes months old, depending on the volume. This does nobody a service. You’ve spent most of your time analyzing and then reacting to old data instead of proactively predicting new trends and capturing potential revenue opportunities.
And so the cycle continues…
Instead, try Mobile.
Start by looking around next time you are on the bus, walking down the street or even at a bar. You might notice that almost everyone is on their phone, taking photos or texting. So why not keep it simple? When you need to gather information about your business, have your team use the tool they are already equipped with… a mobile device!
Let’s take the same scenario from earlier, but in this instance we are going to explain the benefits of going mobile with Zenput.
1) Simple Form Creation and Distribution
Creating forms in Zenput takes but minutes. All questions and form layouts use drag-and-drop functionality. So when building your form if you need to change the order or add in an extra question or two, no problem!
After you’ve built your form, it takes mere seconds to distribute it to your team. Just enter their email address or phone number and use one click to share!
2) Easy Access
From your team’s side, all they need to do is download the Zenput app and instantly have access to your forms. As you can imagine, this makes “show- time” even easier. Think about it. All your people really need when they travel to your store locations is their phone. With their phones, they can efficiently do their jobs, snap photos and even take videos.
No more guessing as to whether or not your team was really at the location filling out your forms, or at the beach. There is a time/date stamp as well as GPS loaded directly into the app so that you can make sure that your people are getting their work done when and where they are supposed to.
4) Real-time data that you don’t have to crunch
Remember all the analytic work you were going to have to do if you went the paper route? Yeah, you can say goodbye to all of that. If you go mobile with Zenput, all data and graphs are updated in real-time. This saves you time and allows you to be proactive, rather than reactive with important business decisions.
So we plead with you, don’t settle for sheet. Going mobile will save you money, increase accountability within your organization, and allow you to capture those once hidden economic opportunities.
Owning and managing a restaurant is no cake walk. It takes time, practice and the skills to gather the right information about your business. Let us help! In this blog post we are going to go over our favorite tips that will help you create a great audit for your restaurant.
So for example if you need to find out all about food storage, cooked ingredients, and how the food is served, break those up into separate sections or forms. Doing so allows your people to be more efficient which means that you get data quicker.
Have your team show rather than tell. Using photos saves your users from having to write out a long description. Photos quickly and accurately allow you to evaluate your restaurant, measure progress, and identify when there’s an issue.
In the restaurant business it can be easy to ask questions that have “feeling” answers. While these sort of touchy feeling questions do have some value, we recommend that you use them sparingly. Use questions that give you definitive answers. Is it more useful to you to know that your team felt that the food products were “adequately stocked” or that there was exactly “x amount of product b overstocked”? The hard numbers will help you best analyze your business and guide you to make those important decisions.
Require that your team sends in information to you every week. Collecting data in a timely manner will help you best analyze the “health” of your restaurant. If you can see week after week that the signage in the front of your restaurant is dirty or not well-lit you can quickly fix the issue. Use your historical data to be proactive, figure out where your business could still use a little work, and monitor positive changes.
Photos are one of the best tools you can use when collecting data from your team in the field. In seconds you can get an accurate snapshot of what exactly is going on in your store. Is a display set up correctly? Is the backroom organized? Anything that you need to know in a snap is possible if you use images.
That’s why we love the new Zoom View. The Zoom View gives you an up-close look at your images and submission info.
Here’s how it works. Go to your Gallery View and click on an image. The photo is immediately enlarged with Submission Info to the right. You can then use the left and right arrow to thumb through other images as you please.
Go ahead and give this new view a test drive… We have a sneaky suspicion you’ll never look at images the same way.
Have you ever caught yourself wishing you had eyes in the back of your head? Or perhaps that you had spies to tell you how your retail space is doing? Yeah, we’ve all been there.
You want to make sure that your retail spaces are being run properly but you can’t possibly be at all places at once. Our view is that you shouldn’t be. Rather you can save time and promote efficiency if you create the “right” form to properly survey your retail spaces. In this blog post we are going to layout three tips for creating a retail form.
1) Use the Right Building Blocks
To start, make your form structurally sound. Making sure your form is structurally sound means that it is both organized and you use a lot of quantitative questions.Organization keeps your people efficient, and allows you gather data quickly. Think about it, if you have a bunch of questions about the exterior of your retail space and then another group all about the interior of your store, keep them separate. Organize the questions so your form submitters and can follow a natural and efficient flow.
Quantitative questions give you measurable and comparable data. This gives a concrete way to track your retail space. How many window displays are there? How many facings of X brand are on the display? These are questions that you can measure and consistently track time after time.
2) Use your Eyes
Do you want to see that a display is set up properly or that your backroom is organized and up to your standards? Of course you do! All you need to do is include photos in your form. Photos are easiest and quickest way for your people to show you that your retail space looks and is operating as it should.
3) Set a Routine
Creating a form chock-full of organized quantitative questions and photos is all good and well but if your people aren’t filling it out, then it’s rather useless. Set up a clear routine for your people. Let them know the frequency and time that you would like the form submissions every week. This keeps them accountable and makes it easier for you to collect timely and consistent data.