Home' Convenience and Impulse Retailing : February March 2014 Contents February / March 2014 | C&I | www.c-store.com.au
With most of his working life spent in the Petrol & Convenience channel, United Convenience Buyers
(CEO) Darren Park has seen a lot of change, some of which have shaped the industry for the better
and some that were just passing trends. He goes on to explain:
Not so fast food!
P&C consumers are expecting a lot more
when it comes to their shopping experience.
No longer is the industry a happy haven for
retailers to charge high prices, provide average
service & expect shoppers to stay loyal. And
rightly so! Never has there been so much
competition in the market place – sometimes
we don’t even realise who our competitors are,
even when they are virtually right across the
road. At times we become so insular in what
we do, we can even be our own worst enemy.
It’s important we realise who our competitors
are and what threats they pose, but equally
as important to not lose focus what our core
business is and not get lost in the illusion of
trying to be everything to everyone.
Take for example our Food To Go (FTG) offer.
The shopper-tunities are endless, but on the
flip side, trying to be something that we are
not can be business destroying!
When analysing our shopper mix & purchase
behaviours, it is amazing to see how many
females are in our stores on a daily basis
buying fuel but don’t buy any shop products
due to the channel not catering for their needs,
being quick, fresh, fabulous!
In understanding some of our shortfalls around
food and consumer perceptions within P&C,
we have developed a FTG offer called “cafe
eroma” – a café brand which is just as much
retailer centric as it is consumer centric, without
the complexity of a “make to order” offer.
We wanted to create an experience where we
had something noticeably different, delivering
a perception that:
(1) the cafe eroma group are leasing the retail
(2) cafe eroma are serious about food and
(3) cafe eroma has no interaction with the fuel
side of the business.
In achieving all of this, we firmly believe
customers will develop trust in our food offer.
Be careful what you wish for
We need to remember that consumers are
largely in our stores because they have just
filled up at the pump. The last thing we want
is for their cars to be tying up valuable space
on the forecourt for anything between 5 to 10
minutes waiting for a sandwich to be freshly
made. With such high turnover of staff that are
not from a food handling background, it was
important that we did not create a complicated
offer requiring hours of food handling training
& preparation time. Ultimately, you can’t be
at your site 24/7, so the offer needed to be
simple enough for all of your staff to be able
Quite simply, “cafe eroma” needed to be
an addition to our business, not the main
focus which is where we believe some of
our competitor offers have lost sight of the
bigger picture. Independent operators work
hard enough. They don’t need the hassle of
managing a complicated food offer as well.
Looking at the world around us, it is amazing
what can be achieved today versus when I
first started in the industry. Understanding
todays P&C shopper, it is clear the Petrol and
Convenience channel is not delivering what
consumers want when it comes to food, and
have not embraced innovation to shape the
way we operate. Take for example the humble
meat pie – once the back bone of the FTG offer.
No longer can we expect to serve a pie which
is baked 6 or 8 hours prior, was sitting in a pie
warmer and expect consumer satisfaction.
Even the faithful tradie is demanding more
when it comes to coffee and food.
The old adage in retailing about making every
inch count does not seem to apply when it
comes to our execution, with display cases
and pie warmers generally sitting empty once
the morning rush has passed, through fear
The advancements in today’s baking
technology means a pie can be displayed in
a fridge and baked on demand (yes baked not
microwaved) in just over 1 minute, minimising
wastage, improving visual appearance by
allowing the display fridge to always remain
full regardless of time of day, and increasing
consumer appeal. These ovens are extremely
versatile, and can be used for all other baking
need such as banana bread and toasties,
they look good & have a very small footprint
so don’t take up too much room.
Additionally, with coffee playing such an
important part of everyday life, it was crucial
to provide a good consistent coffee which
meets consumer expectations.
Our coffee offer needed something which was
going to bring us up to speed in delivering
today’s coffee drinkers expectations. A below
par coffee is sometimes the difference between
someone filling up at your store vs a competitor
down the road. We have managed to source
a fully automated, barista quality POD coffee
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