c store distribution

C Store Distribution – A Key Distribution Point For Many Product Trends

C-stores can be found virtually everywhere across the U.S., providing customers with fuel, snacks or product trends they may have not come across elsewhere. Learn how some convenience stores are taking their inherent benefits – like accessibility and speedy transactions – one step further.

Labor of the Future

As we transition away from fossil fuels and towards electric vehicles (EVs), consumers will visit gas stations and C-stores less frequently. To remain relevant, C-stores need to find ways to attract these new customers; to do this, they have implemented various services that take advantage of customers spending time at their pumps, from full coffee shops to dine-in restaurants to kids play areas – and one chain in Japan even features 24-hour gym services! C-stores must take note of how to adapt their business models as more people commute less, particularly to work. This may require investing in technology like back-of-house and front-of-house solutions in order to continue providing fresh food when staff numbers decrease. NACS State of the Industry Report reports that convenience stores have begun offering hot prepared foods comparable to QSR offerings, resulting in an increase in basket size and higher average transaction value. C-store retailers can take advantage of this change by creating loyalty programs offering rewards for frequent coffee purchases or specific items – creating a more personalized experience and encouraging repeat visits. As labor markets tighten, convenience store operators’s are finding it increasingly challenging to recruit and retain top employees. Some operators are turning to flexible scheduling as a solution – according to Schlenker: “whoever gives [employees] the flexibility and predictability they need for their jobs will come out on top.” Other convenience stores are seeking to expand employee numbers by redeploying existing personnel into other parts of their business, such as e-commerce or customer service roles. A number of grocers and retail companies are testing this model; Best Buy recently used some of its customer service staff to operate kiosks that help customers place e-commerce orders from within store kiosks – this way keeping doors open while simultaneously increasing revenue and profits.

Competition for Accounts

C-stores can provide an ideal opportunity for new product promotion and can put your beverage directly in front of consumers. As either distributors or manufacturers, c-stores can present you with a fantastic way to reach millions of potential customers every day and showcase the success of your beverage product! Successful product launches rely on making sure that your beverage stands out as being superior in class – not simply on price or convenience alone. By developing an exceptional brand that truly innovates and stands out in stores like convenience stores as an important distribution channel for it. Dollar stores may have made headway in foodservice with their introduction of made-to-order menu items, but convenience stores still hold an edge when it comes to fresh and hot products. By prioritizing quality ingredients and products over lower quality competitors, c-store retailers can regain margins lost to higher-end competitors. Customer service should also be prioritized. Customers often appreciate the warm greeting they receive at their local convenience store, clean shopping environment, and speedy service they receive – these elements can make all the difference between winning over consumers who would have otherwise chosen fast-food as their meal provider, or not. Experts highlight convenience stores’ potential as an avenue for closing the efficiency-price gap with supermarkets on traditional convenience items, experts note. It costs much more to transport a cubic foot of groceries from warehouse to supermarket than c-store; thus keeping supermarkets as the primary shopping destination for such convenience items as coffee, beverages and snacks. C-stores are starting to play an increasing role as media providers. Some c-store chains such as 7-Eleven and Casey’s General Stores have even launched retail media networks that compete directly with those offered by major players like Walmart and Amazon – positioning themselves for what experts expect will be an ever-shifting landscape by 2023.

Easy to Get Your Product In

C-stores are immensely popular with consumers as convenient quick stops for grab-and-go snacks and beverages, making them the ideal platform to introduce new beverage products to the market. But in order to have it on shelves of c-stores, your product must first be presented to an individual store owner or retail buyer and presented via wholesale distributors selling to these types of outlets as well as attending tradeshows that specialize in this niche market. C-stores often serve as a launchpad for new beverage brands as they provide millions of customers every day and are constantly looking for exciting products to feature. Launching an energy drink at a c-store is a great way to introduce it to new audiences interested in experiencing something different; plus they have an established history of offering quality private label offerings at more reasonable price points than larger grocers. C-store retailers are increasingly providing DSD suppliers with real-time point-of-sale scan data to increase service levels and supply chain efficiency, enabling them to flex delivery frequencies and manage inventory effectively for local demand, leading to improved in-stock rates. One of the best ways to introduce your beverage product into a convenience store is through a distributor who specializes in selling to convenience stores. They can connect you with small and large c-store chains as well as grocery store chains looking for new offerings, while providing sales and marketing support that ensures its success. E-cigarettes and CBD are great examples of how quickly a novel product can become widely accepted when released to stores. Both items target specific demographics of customers that can be hard to reach through traditional channels; by marketing their product to these niche markets and becoming authority figures within their industries, many have managed to sell a lot of product in short order.

Marketing Opportunities

C-stores can be an excellent place for new products to make an impactful debut, creating excitement amongst their target market and sparking national curiosity about them. As a manufacturer, this can be immensely valuable. Consumers enjoy convenience stores because they can meet all their immediate needs quickly in one visit, from food that’s affordable and tasty to quick entertainment like arcades. Millennials are driving this trend; more than half visit c-stores several times each week in order to satisfy immediate requirements. C-stores have proven resilient in weathering the slowdown in brick and mortar retail that has befallen other retailers. Sales at convenience stores rose by one percent despite overall retail sales declining 1.5% in 2020. C-stores may no longer be as profitable, but they continue to adapt and become more convenient for their consumers. They have taken steps such as adopting technology to offer mobile ordering, curbside pickup and delivery — enabling them to compete against QSRs and grocery stores which also provide these services. The convenience store industry has made an effort to enhance the quality of items it carries in an effort to restore lost margins and recover sales, according to Williams from IRI. C-stores have started offering more high-end foods and products which provide “an upgrade in quality”, rather than offering warmed-over burritos or corn dogs, in order to meet customers’ expectations when it comes to prepared food sales and attract those who might otherwise visit more expensive QSR or grocery store outlets, according to IRI data. This move also acts as part of a larger strategy designed to boost prepared food sales as part of a larger plan to increase prepared food sales as part of a larger strategy to draw in customers who might otherwise patronise higher priced QSR or grocery store instead. C-stores continue to flourish despite lower profit margins and remain the go-to retail location for immediate needs, particularly among millennials who make fewer trips to QSRs and grocery stores but still spend more than their parents did. Manufacturers should realize how best they can reach this audience by promoting their products via c-store distribution channels. At C-store distribution, competition can be fierce; to excel at it successfully requires developing an effective value proposition that speaks directly to your target audience and their needs, and provides them with what makes your product appealing and valuable to them.

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In this training, I will discuss some of the things to think about when approaching a retailer to sell your products and become a vendor. Hope it helps! 🙂

Karen Waksman,
Retail MBA

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And…if you like this training, you will love these new short training sessions as well! Click on the links provided to watch and grow your consumer product business TODAY!

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