The Importance of Timely Product Updates for Your C-Store Distribution
Convenience stores for long have been the lifeline of city neighborhoods and far flung communities in providing them essentials of all kinds. Customers have shopped from their favorite convenience stores for years and have tolerated problems like long queues at checkout and crowded parking lots with good humor. These stores have also played a major role in helping communities with local issues and charities and over the decades have become an integral part of society.
In recent years convenience store chains have been facing competition from mass merchandisers, dollar stores and also local grocers who are stocking products based on consumer demand. In current scenario convenience stores have to show their commitment to customer convenience by drafting a strategy to make their shopping experience a pleasure. Store managers have to include services like wide assortment of products, checkout time, parking layout, work hours and rapid solution to customer problems.
The toughest job for any convenience store owner or manager is managing inventory and managing the daunting task of controlling stocks to ensure that nothing goes waste and stocks are available for customers when desired. In this task they are assisted by wholesalers and distributors who deliver them required stocks when needed and on most occasions by online order. C store distributors work with wholesale distributors and merchandisers on a one to one basis to review sales graphs of products on display and to understand consumer demand.
Challenges that are faced by store owners on a regular basis to meet consumer demand
- Inventory Management – To keep their customers happy and profits on a steady growth path, c store managers have to ensure timely replenishment of fast moving products and creating a demand for new products entering the market. Besides stocking adequate quantity of products, store managers also have to keep right products on the store shelves where the shopper will expect to see them. Convenience store chains should work with specialists who supply few high specialty products and also large distributors of various products to maintain the right mix of goods which will be required by their customers.
- Timely delivery to Market – Understanding customer requirements and ensuring that they reach the store shelves when required are two interconnected challenges that every store manager has to face. Wholesale distributors across interstate markets are able to advice stores on upcoming trends and also inform them about product rankings so that their clients have appropriate selection of items on their shelves.
- Replacement of damaged and spoiled merchandise – To maintain profits stores have to maintain an agreement with their distributors to replace stock which has expired or had flaws hence cannot be sold to customers. This will ensure that relationship on both sides remains cordial and customers get fresh products. With growing demand for ready to eat fresh products, convenience stores are working with local distributors to pick up farm products as fresh as possible to reduce chances of these perishable goods getting spoilt.
- Maintaining profitable relationship with distributors – C store distributors have to set up a data based approach to procuring and supplying products to their clients. They know that larger chain stores have greater ability to store multiple quality products across their stores with different price ranges due to their wider customer base compared to single store operators and maintain their supply adequately. Both large stores and single grocery stores depend upon distributors to keep their stores competitive and filled with products desired by customers.
- Product knowledge and sales – Distributors know that a store has to understand product qualities to help the push them to their clientele. They work with store managers and owners to develop a profitable partnership which will help manufacturers to sell their products to buyers. Distributors may sometimes arrange for demonstrations by manufacturers at c stores and grocers to help buyers and sellers understand the utility of the product better. Distributors rely on informative sales materials and sales portal to help retailers order products and take advantage of special offers during festival season and off season.
Grocers and large chain stores know that having a thorough understanding of market and consumer demands are essential to succeed in this competitive business. They have learnt through experience that focusing on core customer base is essential for remaining competitive in a price for value market. In recent years many small scale grocery chains have been absorbed by large chains making them more competitive and enhancing consumer shopping experience. Distributors have to ensure timely product update to clients for mutually beneficial profits. This helps stores manage their clients’ needs in an effective manner and cut off inefficient processes.
Benefits of timely product updates
- High productivity and low inventory – If convenience stores are able to understand the requirements of their clients well they can squeeze logistics and inventory to improve business and reduce wastage. This technique of keeping low inventory will keep cost benefit ratio high but can lead to problems during a crisis when supply is hit due to natural disasters or other external reasons.
- Managing competition – Ability to plan and manage stock will also help to manage increasing competition from grocery store chains distributors and supermarkets. With low import duties some c-store chains are able to low cost products from international manufacturing destinations and sell them at a higher rate due to lower currency value. To compete with these techniques others in the area also resort to similar measures.
- Space management – They are able to fill up empty spaces in stores as they know the exact quantity of stocks available in each store through electronic databases. This also helps them check on fraudulent activities that some store managers might indulge in to avoid payment of stocks.
Both large and stand-alone convenience stores today need someone who can understand the double challenge of competition and meeting customers’ requirements and converting them into profitable opportunities. Though technology has helped C-store distributors to handle these challenges to a great extent they still have to optimize every nuance of their bundle of services to make profits.
Reasons To Stop Waivering And Order Your Convenience Store Directory
Whether you have just begun a manufacturing company or have been in business for a while, you know you are always looking for new retail outlets to carry your products. This is the only real way to increase your revenues and allow your business to grow. Here are some reasons to go ahead and order your convenience store directory and not continue your hit and miss marketing strategies.
Convenience stores are constantly opening, relocating and changing ownership, which makes getting an up to date list essential. You do not want your staff dedicating days to trying to gather up the same information available in a pre-printed directory. The sources your staff might use to correlate the information like the Internet might already be out of date, causing them to create a list of incorrect information.
By purchasing a prepared list of convenience/grocery store chains, you will get the list in an excel format. This will allow you to easily sort the data by any category you like such as state, city or contact person. An excel list will allow you to create shipping labels with an export function to mail letters of introduction or other promotional material. An excel format will allow you to make notes on individual convenience stores without messing up the file or formatting.
With a convenience store directory, you can get updates twice a year. In the current business climate, stores have a large turn over and new stores are opening all the time. You do not want your employees devoting time to a client or an area only to learn they have an outdated list.
At C Store Directory, we are dedicated to making sure you have the most up to date information in your market. When you purchase our directory, you will get updates for the first year at no additional charge. If you have an questions or need help ordering, contact us today.
With the market on a sure and steady path to recovery, inventors looking to get their innovative product ideas out on shelves in convenience stores across the nation have to brave a number of barriers in order to break into the business successfully. Achieve your dream goal to see your product on the shelves of major market chains and brands like Whole Foods, Target and Walmart with the right approach, effort and research.
Here are a few steps or tried and tested methods to ensure your product gets shelf space and is put out on display at stores.
Take small steps toward a great future. Sure the ultimate end is to see your product up on the shelves of giant commercial store chains, but they might not be interested in an initial startup product without a proper sales base or a steady growing sales record. Start with online sales to introduce your product to customers and prove its ability to sell.
Approach local stores in your neighborhood and town or at stores where you normally shop. Local shop owners are more likely to entertain you and your product. Especially stores that recognize you as a regular customer will be more open and approachable, as you can entice them with an established customer base of friends and acquaintances that comprise your product demographic.
Build a great pitch
No matter what kind of store you approach with your product, make sure you have an excellent sales pitch ready to win over the buyer. It’s best you make a formal appointment and meet the manager in charge of stock and supply intake. Demonstrations of product will help drive your sales pitch, while information on the product is essential to gain buyer confidence and assert validity of product.
Expect denial, but don’t accept it as final
There will be several times where your product meets flat refusal, though with determination and effort you can use suggestions made and criticism offered to better your product. Be it in terms of packaging, labeling or other aspects and aesthetic elements. It is always best to take as much as you can from buyer interactions and work on ways to enhance your standing product and make it more appealing to clients and buyers.
Remember there is always a sure way into the market, and making small changes, like including tamper proof sealing on your product, can make a big difference to a buyer.
Several super market chains and super stores allow small and startup businesses to market their products through special programs where producers interact directly with customers by displaying their products in store aisles and by offering demonstrations and tastings if possible. Allowing buyers and customers the opportunity to try and experience the product for themselves and urges them to make an informed decision while highlighting your product’s appeal and winning qualities.
Store buyers in charge through experience, have a well-based idea of type of products that sell and what exactly people look for when purchasing a product. Interactions with buyers will bring you a wealth of information and feedback you can then use to sell your product. Simple utilitarian additions to design can make a marked difference in how your product is approached by buyers and customers alike. The key is to hold something unique that separates your product from the many generic items sold in stores already. The more your product stands apart from the rest, the higher the likelihood of store buyers giving your product shelf space or keep them on display.
Expand your buyer base
Visit trade shows, exhibitions and fairs. Check out C Store Distributors Directory and C Store Directory, this will give you a more in depth view of the market and widen your exposure to interested buyers across the nation. However, before you do enroll yourself into a trade fair, research the many fairs to gain an understanding of which ones best suit your product. Trade exhibitions that hold a broad display of unrelated products might leave you feeling like you don’t belong and worse yet, unnoticed by the many buyers who do attend.
It is best to get a good idea of what the show covers, or look for product specific trade shows that deal in your area of specialized goods. Trade shows will introduce you to a gamut of store retailers with valid contact information using which you can contact them and meet them separately to develop better relations thus broadening your buyer spectrum base.
Opt for broker assistance
Many a time product inventors or designers aren’t very good sales people, or haven’t time at their disposal to meet and interact with store buyers, or can’t afford to hire a dedicated person to direct product sales. In situations like these, convenience store brokers come to the rescue. Brokers can make sales for you with their pre-established buyer relations and familiarity of market, brokers greatly help emerging and startup companies get their products in stores.
With the help of a broker you can spread sales across different regions across the country. In addition brokers work on about 5-15% commission made on approved sales.
The best way to get your product on display shelves at retail stores is have the buyer contact you. If customers begin asking for your product in stores, then buyers will be forced to call and stock up on your product. Achieve this by creating marketing buzz about your product.
Advertise and market your product online through popular blogs and social news feeds. With a sufficient number of people having read about and tried your product, they are bound to pass on the message, enticing their friends and family to try it out too. This creates hype and excitement over the product and people just love anything fresh and exciting.
Build customer relations by interacting with bloggers asking them for relevant feedback and opinion about your product. If their interest in your product is heightened, they might take it upon themselves to write about and share your product.
Why Buying at Convenience Store Chains is Better than Buying in Bulk at Warehouse Clubs
Regular shoppers at warehouse clubs like Costco, Sam’s Club and others always save money when they buy their daily needs of essentials at these places. Since these stores have bargaining power with their manufacturers/vendors for the bulk supplies that are picked up each month from them, warehouse clubs can afford to pass them on to their customers. Buying in large quantities sometimes brings down the overall per unit price but during special discount seasons a product at local convenience store may sometimes cost lesser. If you have a large family then buying food items, household cleaning liquids, books, bathroom essentials in bulk every month makes sense otherwise they can get spoilt.
As convenience store chains provide the same variety of products as warehouses club you can use them to buy small quantities of essentials. Here is a list of things that you considered were being offered real cheap at warehouse clubs but in reality can be bought in other places at a lesser price.
- Books and electronic storage devices – People who have recently purchased a collection of books, movie or music DVDs, USBs or empty DVDs, and are boasting to their friends about the bargain, would be disappointed to know that buying from Amazon can save them almost 20 percent. If you are a book lover and the heady smell of new books is like wine, become a member of public libraries in your area and you can enjoy them for free.
- Large electronics – Warehouse clubs give great offers on large electrical appliances like televisions, food processors, refrigerators, and washing machines etc., which are generally clubbed together with other small products like iron, hair dryers or others which may not be of the brand you prefer. Instead of buying expensive appliances that you may regret at a later date it is better to buy these electrical goods from Best Buy, Sears, and Frye’s or even Wal-Mart.
- Branded cereals – So you thought buying large cartons of cereals was a bargain in comparison to buying small cartons. Unfortunately that is not the case as prices on branded cereals are the same irrespective of the quantity as they are sold in pre-packed cartons. So instead of buying a huge carton of cereal and forcing everyone to eat it better get a variety of options for every member of the family.
- Milk – People generally go overboard over low milk prices at warehouse clubs and buy several liters. They then have to pour it down the drain as you can only use milk for limited purposes within a day or two. Convenience store chains also sell milk sometimes at a discount which you can buy in smaller quantities for use.
- Stocking on soda – Kids generally tend to gulp down soda cans during summer. If you think that warehouse clubs are the best place to buy them at rock bottom prices check out the prices at your local grocer store. Since they offer discounts on several brands of fruit juices and energy drinks during this period, chances are you can end up saving more at a local store than a warehouse store where you may have to buy dozens of cans of the same soda variety.
- Detergents and cleaning products – If you are determined to buy your supply of washing detergents, bleaches and toilet cleaners from warehouse clubs then check on manufacturing date and buy latest ones. Powder detergents will last longer than cakes and liquid washing bleaches therefore buying them is a better option.
- Fashionable clothing – Do not buy your fashion garments from warehouse clubs as generally these are seconds and low quality stuff from your fashion label. Better buy your clothes from departmental stores which specialize in selling clothes which can be tried on before purchase.
- Condiments and spices – It is unlikely that you are going to finish that large bottle of hot sauce or spices all by yourself within 3-4 months as that is generally the shelf life of these products. So unless you are planning to host a large party at home for friends and family where these things will be used in great quantities stick to buying from local grocer.
- Lotions, creams, shampoos – Now let us get to the part where all of us are convinced that buying large bottles and tubs of creams, lotions and shampoos from warehouse clubs save us several hundred dollars every year. But unless there are several people in the family using the same brand of these products buying these products in bulk is not viable as they expire within 6-8 months and unused products go waste. Bulk purchases at low prices always look appealing, it is only when you see them piled up you realized the futility of buying on bulk when there are few users at home.
- Toilet paper and paper towels – There is not much difference in price levels at warehouse clubs and convenience stores of paper products as these again have a standard price which manufacturers rarely reduce. If you buy during sales or discounts at convenience stores they cost almost the same.
- Canned products – Your local supermarket will give you a better deal on canned goods and you can have savings of 20-30 percent on them. If your local convenience store has its own brand of canned products then they will hold discounts on them on a regular basis and they will cost lesser than national or local brands at a warehouse club.
So does this mean that warehouse clubs do not offer value for money? If that would have been the case these brands would not be growing and expanding branches across the nation. Warehouse clubs do offer good discounts of 15 – 40 percent from conventional stores on average. But there is no guarantee that all products are priced lower than your local convenience store and you need to do a little homework before buying from warehouse clubs. Make a comparison of per unit cost, loyalty discount, membership fees and quantity that you have to buy or need before you make the next purchase at warehouse clubs.
Marketing is an ongoing part of any wholesale distribution business. Introducing a new product in today’s competitive marketplace is not easy. But this is the need of every growing business. Wholesale distribution business can’t thrive without new product launches or improving existing stocks or without maintaining quality of existing stock.
This scenario gets even more competitive when it comes to food distribution business. For people in the wholesale distribution trade, there are many options in buying and selling food products. Whether it is dry foods or frozen; meat, poultry, seafood; dairy or fresh fruits and vegetables – the business can be profitable but as it is also competitive, it is not easy to launch a new food product into retail stores. But with the right plan it is doable and with success.
Understand your product
For successful distribution into the the c store channel, it is important to understand the dynamics of a new product launch in the market. A new product in the market first comes via a manufacturer or a vendor. You then sell the new product to wholesale distributors (www.cstoredistributors.com). But before distributors commit to buying a new product it is imperative that they understand what the product is all about. Is there a need for the product in the market? What is the competition like for this type of product?
For instance, a manufacturer is launching a new range of gourmet packaged food. The product might fulfill all the criteria for a successful launch like quality, pricing and the market need. But is it for them? Is it the right product for their market? A distribution business might consist of supplying dairy products to independent stores. Will they buy this gourmet product? What is the disposable income of the community where their retail clients are located? Or can you find new retail stores to sell these gourmet packaged foods? Asking such questions and more and seeking answers for the same will help you understand if you can market and sell this new product to convenience stores.
Research the market
Do your own research for your new product. Send samples and brochures to retail clients to gain some insight. Convenience stores (www.cstoredirectory.com) are more than happy to stock new products that they can sell with ease if they see or vision the demand. Also reach out to new stores in new locations to get a diverse understanding of what retailers think of your product.
Also, do some online research. Check if this kind of product is in demand. Check out the competition. See what types of stores are selling the product in question. See if convenience stores stock anything similar to your food product.
Also visit the stores. Go and check the aisles and range of gourmet products that are stocked there. Observe the pricing of the competition and do some research on those as well.
Work out the details
So you have a new product that you know you can sell to retail stores. It is a good product and you know you can sell your inventory to wholesalers. To do so, negotiate the largest discount amount from your vendor for the product, unless you are the manufacturer. Right pricing is a very essential for the success of a new product.
Ask retail stores if they would be able to or be willing to promote the product in a big way. This is done by setting up standalone tables inside the stores to introduce the product to the consumers or by the placement of banners or other marketing materials inside the convenience store premises. Most retail stores are more than happy and willing to promote a new product this way as it gives the store a good vibe and makes the store attractive for customers even if they don’t buy the products.
Step up the marketing
If a wholesale distributor is excited to sell your new product and believes that they can turn a profit on your new food items, then it is a good idea to formulate a marketing plan for the new product. To continue with the example of gourmet packaged foods, make a list of all the stores, or distributors you want to include in your marketing plan.
Convenience / Grocery Store Chains With Overseas Operations
The retail store industry seems to be finally moving out of the economic slowdown within the United States, with news of new store locations opening in other parts of the world and within the country. Top of the chart convenience store chains and restaurant chains like Starbucks, Seven Eleven, Family Mart and Target already have a significant presence in markets around Southeast Asia. These private C store chains companies with billion dollar turnovers make it their business to make lives of their customers easy by bringing them all the products they require under one roof.
A recent industry analysis about the retail sector has stated that with economies around the world showing signs of growth, the demand for convenience stores has also increased as they are more time saving and provide customer-friendly services. The people in undeveloped markets also are now aware of the importance of convenience stores that are more customer-friendly than the neighborhood provision stores, and provide better cash deals. To capture this growing educated middle class and upper middle class population that has decent disposable income and understands the value of branded products, top convenience store chains with an overseas presence are looking to expand their operations.
Below is a list of United States-based convenience stores that are well established overseas:
1. Seven Eleven – The top US convenience store chain has branches across Malaysia and Indonesia, which sell the usual fare along with locally made content sourced from local suppliers. The firm has grown by six percent after it was listed on the Malaysia Stock Exchange. Since the government does not allow direct foreign investment, Seven Eleven has a licensing agreement with Japan’s Seven &1 Holdings to operate its C store chains within Malaysia. For Seven Eleven, Philippines has been a better business option in comparison to Malaysia as the number of stores has grown from seven in the first year to a thousand three hundred within next couple of years. This growth is driven by the increase of Indonesia’s middle class who draw good salaries.
2. Walmart – Among the first American convenience store chain to expand into international markets, Walmart was established in 1962. Though the firm has suffered due to recent financial slowdown it still retains its position among “most valuable companies in the world.” Its overseas operations have had a mixed outcome as stores in locations like England, South America and China have been profitable while the outlets in South Korea and Germany were failures.
3. Circle K – This convenience store chain, which began its business in 1951 in Texas on a small scale, never imagined that it will grow beyond the nation’s boundaries. The enterprising spirit of its co-founder Fred Harvey grew this store chain into 1000 outlets across the nation by 1975. With careful planning and foresight, the firm made its first foray into international markets by opening its store in Japan in 1979. Its growth scaled after this drew a fiery across the world with sales expanding to $1 billion by 1984. To expand its operations in nations where direct foreign investment was not allowed, the firm had the support of franchisees that helped Circle K to grow across thirteen nations.
4. Costco – One of the first retail warehouse distributors to set up operations in United States, Costco was founded in 1976 in San Diego. It presently has above 450 warehouses storing merchandise across United States followed by another 200 odd stores in South East Asia and few locations in Europe. It is open to members only who can buy a wide variety of merchandise ranging from food items to electronic goods, cosmetics, home appliance, and others. The firm’s total sales in last fiscal amounted to $ 64 billion and its memberships now exceed 3 million, even in a sluggish economy. Costco’s popularity is intact among its members as it regularly changes its brands on offer by bringing in new products that have better discounts on inventories, and passes them on to customers making it a popular C store chain.
5. Sears Roebuck and Co – Though it was started way before any of the current market leaders, Sears has not been as successful in recent years. It has restricted its overseas operations within North America and has branches in Canada and Mexico besides United States, and in 2012, was the fourth largest convenience store chain. The store, which first began operations in 1800s to sell products by mail order catalogs, has today become a multi-billion dollar business unit with a turnover of $21.649 billion and more than 2000 stores across United States, Canada, and Mexico.
6. Whole Foods Markets – This convenience store chain is the youngest in the list and was started in 1978 by John Mackey and Renee Lawson to satisfy the demand for natural food items that have not used artificial pesticides or chemicals. After a few setbacks, the group expanded out of Texas into New Orleans and moved its operations into California in 1990s. With growing demand for a wider variety of natural foods, the group bought over small outlets in Los Angles, Northern California, North Carolina, Florida, and Massachusetts. The firm’s international operations extend to United Kingdom and Canada which were set up after 2007.
7. Safeway Inc – The group started operations in 1915 when its founder M.B. Skaggs opened a grocery store in Idaho that he helped grow to 428 stores across 10 states within a short span of 11 years. His innovative spirit was visible in the way Safeway stored labeled the nutritional content of their food items that was unheard of in early 1940s, followed by spacious parking lots and reasonable pricing. The C store chain expanded into United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Germany, and Jordan, but faced several financial problems. It has been bought over by different firms in various locations that have helped the brand grow into 1335 stores within United States followed by 195 outlets in Mexico.
This list of convenience store chains contains firms that have grown from humble beginnings as c stores/grocery stores and companies that have began their operations on a grand scale with a global perspective. Both formats have gone through their own ups and downs, and have managed to maintain a steady growth path through the years of business.
Convenience stores, which first started out as providers of daily basics like milk, bread and eggs from local farms and dairies, have now grown with large storefronts, storing a host of fresh and canned products. The gradual growth of small convenience stores into larger formats was due to consumers who drove over in cars and preferred buying several things in one go. Besides storing ready-to-eat food items like ice creams, bakery goods, cheese and butter, convenience stores also have regular groceries, fresh vegetables and fruits. Stores that began as small outlets have now grown into chain stores with branches across the nation.
Some convenience store chains have tie-ups with well-known oil companies and gas stations like Chevron, British Petroleum and ExxonMobil. The C store chains coexist with these companies on busy highways or lonely deserts to provide travelers with gasoline and useful products like bottled water, snacks and batteries too. With the prolonged economic crisis, some of these C store chains are adopting new retail formats and going through acquisitions to improve business and financial health. The elaborate network of convenience stores in the United States comprises of more than 150,000 stores which generate a revenue of around $700 million every year and employ several thousand people.
List of convenience stores ranking from one to fifteen in the United States
- Seven Eleven – This has remained the topmost convenience store in the United States since 2012. Till date Seven Eleven has 59595 units spread across 7760 locations with a growth rate of 100 stores every year. Besides growing its network in metropolitan areas, Seven Eleven is also in the process of acquiring new stores. To expand its convenience store chain, Seven Eleven has recently bought 163 stores from Tetco Inc. in Utah and Texas, followed by 143 stores of C.L. Thomas Inc., both of which were among the top 100 C store chains in 2013.
- Shell Oil Products – Shell was among the earliest big oil companies to start convenience store chains next to their gas stations, which gained popularity over a period of time and was adopted by other oil firms like Chevron and ExxonMobil. Ranked as No.2 among convenience stores within US, it has presence in 4950 locations and will open around 16 new ones this year.
- BP North America – Even with the retraction of AMPM brand of BP from East Coast region and franchising it to Tesoro Corp in South west region, the oil major still retains 4504 stores and ranks third among list of convenience stores in United States. Though it closed down 187 stores in the past couple of years, it has managed to run a healthy business.
- Chevron Corp – This California-based oil major has 3985 stores across the United States which provide turnover of $ 10,789,792 in 2013. The group owns Texaco stores across West Coast and Mid-West and has suffered a dip in its fortunes due to closure of 72 stores.
- Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.- It is regarded as the largest convenience store chains in the world with 13000 stores across North America, Europe and South East Asia. Within United States the store chain has 3701 stores with earnings of $13,903,188 during 2013.
- ExxonMobil Corp – It has retained the position since 2012 with current ownership of 3421 stores though it has closed down 25 stores since last year.
- Energy Transfer Partners LP – Previously referred to as Sunoco Inc, this convenience store chain was at number eight last year and has moved up the value chain with addition of 13 new stores to its chain. It owns stores under the names of A Plus, Coastal and Optima and earned turnover of $ 6966,700 last year.
- Casey’s General Stores – During 2012, this convenience store group was at number 11 and with addition of 42 new stores its total count has gone up to 1735 stores in 2014.
- CITGO Petroleum Corp – This Texas based Oil Company owns 1668 stores named under CITGO in its C store chains which have helped it earn $ 3,512,236 last year.
- The Pantry Inc – This popular convenience store chain owns popular store brands like Kangaroo Express, Presto and Petro Express which together account for 1568 stores.
- Speedway LLC 2 – The Ohio based Seedway has 1463 stores which are named after the brand and its last year’s turnover was at $5171637. This chain has fallen from last year’s 7th ranking to 11th position.
- Phillips 66 – Operator of the famous Conoco Phillips C store chains along with 76 and Phillips66. It has 1255 stores and annual turnover of $ 3,033,160.
- Hess Corp – This C store chain, based in Woodbridge New Jersey, follows a similar store format as big oil companies, and owns 1138 stores within the United States. Its total turnover in 2013 was at $4,870,640 and it operates stores under Wilco Food Mart, Hess Express, Wilco Travel Plaza and Hess brands.
- Getty Realty Corp – This Jericho-based real estate firm owns and leases convenience store chains of Getty, Kwik Farms and Lukoil to sell a mixed array of products. The group owns 1040 stores across United States with annual turnover of $ 2393721 last year.
- CST Brands Inc. – This San Antonio-based firm owns Corner Store range of C store chain has sales points in Canada and US with revenues of $12.8 billion in 2013. It is a listed company which employs 12000 people across its stores.
If you are looking for a full list of all the convenience and grocery store chains in the U.S. please visit www.cstoredirectory.com.
The growth of convenience stores has largely been aided by the increase of new housing colonies and demand for both fresh and prepared food. With the availability of these chain stores across the nation, most customers will drive past a competitor’s store if they know that their favorite one is in the vicinity. A recent survey has stated that nearly 80 percent of customers will buy from their preferred convenience store chain even if a competitor offers the same product at a discount. Among fast growing C store chains in current market are QuickTrip, Tulsa and WaWa all of which are extremely popular among shoppers across a wide demographic level.
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Your Product’s Journey From Home to the Shelves Of Convenience Store Chains
Congratulations on your new product. You’ve invested a lot of time and resources in the development phase. You have also spent a lot of sweat in getting the product ready and you know it is ready to hit the shelves now.
It looks good and you know it will deliver great value – that’s why you developed it in the first place. You’re sure that the new product has what it takes to become a huge hit. After it secures a place on retailers’ shelves, that is.
Now, if only convenience store buyers could understand the beauty of your new product just as easily and as profoundly as you do. Life would be great then, wouldn’t it? The problem is, convenience store buyers can be a tough lot to please. Especially, for first-time product developers and first-time business owners.
Here are seven quick tips to help you in the process
Know your product. Thoroughly
Agreed the product is your brainchild – your baby, and you are sure you know everything about it, but how thoroughly are you prepared to answer questions related to the product? You have the features and benefits memorized. You know your USP, but how well can you justify them? What will your reply to “why should I buy this?” be?
A good idea in this regard is to think of all product-related questions convenience store buyers can ask you and write down their answers in a notebook. Practice answering the questions so that you do not stutter or rattle unnecessarily when meeting potential buyers.
Ensure that you know all answers related to features and benefits, costs and specifications, payment terms, return policies, minimum order quantity, retail/wholesale price as well as expiry, without having to look into your notes. Retailers may want to know which other convenience store chains carry your product (if applicable) and you must be in a position to answer how many units from each store have been sold.
Know your convenience store buyers
Research, research, research. You want to contact retailers from your niche who will be a good fit for the product. While you can always turn to the good old yellow pages for making a list of suitable convenience store chains and small retailers, turning to the Internet will be easier and less time-consuming. Online directories provide industry-wide listings and you can easily download a C store list, grocery store list and list of convenience store chains at www.cstoredirectory.com. Attend conferences, convenience store trade shows and other industry related events to make direct, in-person contacts with buyers. Home Depot and Walmart for example, host events where you can pitch your products to a targeted audience.
Such events provide opportunity to make personal connections and learn about the needs of the buyer. Understand the different tiers of distribution in your niche. Do big retailers buy from distributors only? What is their approach to smaller businesses? You’ll find that most convenience store chains use a softer approach with smaller businesses than they do with multinationals. So don’t be intimidated. If you have a great product, which can offer value to the market segment they target, go ahead and contact them.
Dress your product for the buyers
After obtaining a C store list, dress your product to suit the buyers in your list. Visit the stores to see how items for sale are placed. Know which aisles on which floors carry products similar to yours. How are they placed? Are they stacked? Do they hang? Dress your product accordingly. Show them that your product will be a good fit.
A good rule of thumb is to package the product such that it takes up as little floor/shelf space as possible. Further, see if you can offer any promotional items. Point of purchase posters and displays that attract consumers will be appreciated by convenience store buyers since they have to spend less time in selling your products.
Prepare your pitch
You want to use the time you have wisely, when pitching. Prepare a pitch in advance and practice, practice, practice before pitching in front of a potential buyer. It is important to stay on topic, talk about the benefits, the USP, and what the buyer has in it for him, from storing your products.
Don’t forget to make it personal. Add a quick, interesting story of how the product came to be . Load your pitch with brag-worthy stuff – testimonials, press releases, industry awards and so on. Include points related to category management and competitive pricing.
Make an offer they can’t refuse
When pitching the product, make an offer that is difficult to refuse. Ensure that you know all details of the product and its placement, when making an offer. This will help you answer buyers’ questions and tackle their objections on the go, increasing your chances of being accepted.
When it’s time to bring an offer to the table, put your best foot forward. “Risk-free trials” where they can return unsold products to you, or consignment deals minimize risks for buyers and make them more open to accepting your offer.
Know your true cost per unit. It will help you bargain better. True cost per unit includes all expenses related to production, packaging, shipping and so on. Further, have your universal product code (UPC) number and related details acquired beforehand. The UPC is a unique 12-digit number assigned to different variations of any product and big buyers look for products that have their own UPC numbers. You can join GS1 US or have a broker sell you a code.
Be prepared to deliver asap
Have products handy, so that you can ship them as and when asked. Keep order forms, catalogs and shipment supplies ready. You do not want to be given a chance only to fail. Before approaching large convenience store chains, ensure that you have the money and inventory to complete as well as finish bulk orders on time. If you don’t, strike off such stores from your C store list and get back to them when you have scaled up.
Build a network
Buzz. A social circle will get you into places, which simple pitching won’t be able to. Set up social media profiles, talk about the product on your personal profile, get friends to talk about it. Find bloggers and reviewers who can sample the product and discuss it online. The buzz you create will help you make a strong case in front of buyers. It will also help you gain connections with industry insiders and take your business forward.
All seven steps should be a part of your monthly or weekly, retail marketing plan. Begin with signing up for online directories, make a list of the buyers you’d want to target first and get started on your product’s journey to retail shelves.
There are so many things to consider when getting ready to get your idea for a product from your head to the shelves. If you’re new to the game, then making a lot of choices that have to do with placing your item on specific store shelves if very difficult. For example, the first thing you need to decide is what kind of venue you’re looking to have your product occupy. Is it best meant for a grocery store shelf, or a convenience store shelf? Once you figure this out, then you’ll narrow down the window of possible routes to take.
If grocery store shelves is where you think you’ll have the most success, then you have a lot of choices for where to go. For example, you could find your idea next to other staples at places like Kroger, Walmart and Publix. The hard part is figuring out how to get to that stage. Before you can do that, you’ll need to decide if you’d like to focus on going through a broker, here is a good blog about finding grocery store brokers.
Many people are mistaken about the difference between these two routes. While they both end with you finding financial success through your product sales, they go about it in a slightly different ways. A broker is paid for by the grocery store and sent out to look for items that would do well in their stores. You can market to a broker, but they’re on a mission to secure items they’ve been set to find.
Distributors work for the people selling items. To acquire a distributor, you have to appeal to them and market your item. While this sounds like more work than going with a broker, once a distributor picks up your product, they will do all the selling for you. This is great because they know the market well enough to understand exactly where your product should end up in order to bring in the most sales—a distributor wants their clients to be successful because it in turn reflects on them. This differs from a broker, who won’t work as hard for an individual product because their sights are set on granting success to the stores who pay them.
This means that if you go through a broker and your product doesn’t do well, then you’ll face changing loyalties and the possibility that you won’t be featured on anyone’s shelves. However, a distributor is all about getting you success, so if you find your product not doing well in a particular store, then they’ll just move their sights in order to ensure that you do find what you’re looking for. The difference in the dynamics is important, because distributors offer a security that may be worth the effort it takes to acquire one.
After deciding on where to set your focus, you now have to find ways to gather the contact information you need to get in touch with the people who will help you continue down your road. You have the option of finding this information yourself, which will cost you no money up front, but will cost you a great deal of time and effort. Usually that means your dream of selling your idea will be put off because of how long you’ll need to find the resources and information necessary to continue.
Instead of wasting all that time and effort on groping blindly in the dark, or attending countless trade shows with nothing to show for it, you could be doing something easier and more useful for your product. There are ways of acquiring the information you desire without wasting any time or efforts. Please read blogs above.
The best part of using a previously existing directory is that someone else is using their resources to find updates and add them to your list. All you have to do is pay an annual fee to subscribe to the directory and you’ll automatically be set to go. More than anything else, you’ll also have access to a place that is made up of people who have been in the business for a long time. They know what to look for and what information you’ll need to accomplish what you want. This means that you won’t also be wasting your time with a long list of information. It’s arranged in an easy-to-use format, and updated twice a year, ensuring you’re not behind in the market.
If you’re serious about getting your product out onto a grocery store shelf, then you’ll need help finding people who will bridge the gap between you and the store. You can try to approach them yourself, but just like with book publishing, having an agent is really the only way to ensure success. Why not take advantage of an already established directory that brings you literally all the contact information you need? You’ll need your time and effort for other things that require your attention, such as getting your product set up and ready to be defended to a distributor.
Don’t let your dreams get away from you because of your pride or the fear of investing in this directory—resources are priceless, and the only people who win at the game in the end is those who didn’t take unnecessary risks before having the tools to bounce back from them. Claim your victory—and let the experts help you get there!