The Future of Convenience Store Foodservice

By Joe Skupinsky

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Did you go to the NACS Show in Atlanta this year? We did, and had a great time exhibiting our product for the second consecutive year! A huge thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth.

The NACS show always presents great opportunities to make new acquaintances, and it’s also a great time to catch up with our current customers. But one of the most important things we take away from NACS is education. We always want to learn about the topics and trends that matter most to our customers.

One of the hot topics—and it has been a hot topic for the past few years—is the future of foodservice in the convenience store industry. Convenience Store News attended a foodservice trends session led by Clint McKinney,  group director of Category Advisory- Convenience Retail for Coca-Cola North America. McKinney shared six keys to satisfying new customers:

  1. Value Plus - meal bundling or offering a new topping or flavor
  2. Evolution of Healthy - simple ingredients, fresh food, transparency, and “clean eating”
  3. Flexibility & Discovery - expanding meal occasions to coincide with the growth of snacking
  4. Hyper-Convenience - on-demand delivery, takeout, and drive-thrus
  5. Digitization - using social media to create share-worthy content
  6. Brand Authority - having a clear brand identity and telling a clear story  

In another session, NACS Chairman Jack Kofdarali advised retailers that they must put an emphasis on food as challenges arise in other product categories. He explained how not that long ago, customers were choosing between something delicious vs. something fast. That’s no longer the case, as many retailers are providing delicious food, quickly.

Improving Retail Execution: A Practical, On-Location Approach

Successful convenience store foodservice operators would agree that execution is fundamental to building a brand. That’s where Zenput helps convenience store retailers and other foodservice operators. Zenput allows retailers to identify what they do best and where they need to improve—all to strengthen their brand.

Let’s revisit some of the key points and see how, exactly, Zenput can help C-store operators with each.

Value Plus - Zenput allows retailers to build custom audit forms, for everything from store cleanliness to price and promotional accuracy. Inaccuracies and issues can be identified and addressed in real time.

Evolution of Healthy - Customers want healthy and fresh foods, but supplying the demand has its own challenges. The store’s cold case needs to be regularly restocked and refreshed. With Zenput, managers can make this a daily task and track compliance across stores. Zenput is even compatible with a food thermometer as an added food safety audit functionality. 

Hyper-Convenience - If you’re a convenience store operator with drive-thrus - great - you’re ahead of the industry curve! Using Zenput to audit your drive-thru, along with your kitchen and staging area, helps identify potential weaknesses like dirty or broken appliances that may be slowing you down or costing you customers.

Zenput is also a great tool for maintaining high execution in the forecourt, which strongly drives convenience store sales. This topic was addressed in another NACS Show educational session. John Eichberger, executive director of the Fuels Institute, discussed the importance of first impressions at the forecourt and advised retailers to make it clean and friendly, while satisfying customer cravings.

Convenience store retailers can also audit their forecourts to make sure they’re clean, functioning, and up-to-date with all the latest promotional signage. Whether they’re located outside or inside the store, clean restrooms certainly send the right message to customers who are considering a foodservice purchase.

Eichberger added that there are three principles to keep in mind: brand visibility, brand perception and brand experience. Like the foodservice takeaways, it all comes back to brand.

Practical, Everyday Branding

If there’s one takeaway about branding that I want to share, it’s this: it doesn’t sit on a shelf.  

There’s the philosophy of branding, and then there’s branding in reality. At Zenput, we are practitioners of reality, and our flexible platform reflects that. We want retailers and foodservice operators to use our mobile solution to measure and report actual conditions in their stores. Get notified in real-time when something is askew, assign a task to fix it, and then have the ability to follow up to ensure its completion. Experiment with new audits to improve retail execution and know you can easily change them, as you should in an ever-changing retail environment.

To learn more about our mobile solution, check out our blog, or click here to: find out more about how we help convenience store operators improve their operations.

If you'd like to schedule a demo, go to zenput.com and click on ‘Schedule demo’ in the top right corner.

 

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