Convenience Store News - May 2018 - 26

OUT & ABOUT

Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone
The 2018 NACS State of the Industry Summit addresses
the need for change By Melissa Kress
THE CONVENIENCE CHANNEL HAS BEEN FACING CHANGE on

several fronts - technology, the competitive landscape
and consumer preferences, to name just a few. But instead
of waiting for change to happen, it's time for convenience
store retailers to be the change.
"I've always thought that if you are not moving forward,
or essentially standing still, you are moving backward
and that's not where we want to go as an industry," Kevin
Smartt, chairman of the NACS Research Committee,
said during the 2018 NACS State of the Industry Summit
(SOI), which took place April 10-12 at the Hyatt Regency
O'Hare in Rosemont, Ill.
Retailers such
as 7-Eleven's
Alan Beach
(left) and
Sheetz's Joe
Sheetz shared
their perspectives on the
industry with
attendees.

growing demand for food that makes consumers feel good
that does not necessarily have to be healthy, explained
Hale, who is also a consultant with Nielsen Co., where he
previously served as senior vice president, consumer and
shopper insights.
Convenience store operators need to keep an eye on the
retail scene near their stores and ask themselves some
questions: How will the closing of nearby stores affect traffic? Who will fill the food void when the restaurant across
the street shuts its doors for the last time?
Retailers can also find opportunities by taking the
idea of mergers and acquisitions
and turning it on its head. "It's a
whole new game when it comes to
merger-and-acquisition activity,"
Hale said, citing Campbell Soup Co.'s
acquisition of Snyder's-Lance Inc.
and the merger of Albertsons Cos.
and Rite-Aid Corp. "Maybe we need
to start thinking about acquiring new
businesses that have nothing to do
with convenience stores."

Don't Be Left Behind
With change comes both danger and
opportunity, explained Alan Beach
of 7-Eleven Inc.
There are disruptors to traditional retail - notably, Uber,
Amazon and Netflix. They have one thing in common with
convenience stores: They provide convenience.

Whether industry players leverage
change comes down to the choices they make. "We need
to grow and protect our customer base," he said. "We need
to improve, so we have choices to make."

"It's been my mission, and the mission of everyone in this
room, to provide convenience to our customers, so I consider ourselves disruptors - or changemakers," said Smartt,
also CEO of Kwik Chek Food Stores Inc. based in Texas.

As he pointed out, the consumer and the convenience
store shopper are changing dramatically and convenience
store retailers need to anticipate those changes and
evolve with them.

Becoming a changemaker requires finding opportunities
and seizing them.

According to Beach, becoming a better choice for the consumer takes three things and being the best at one of them:

For example, c-store retailers can capture the aging
population. Drugstores continue to miss out on trips from
this consumer group as more people order 90-day prescriptions, opening the door for the convenience channel,
according to Todd Hale, principal of Todd Hale LLC.

* Product assortment;

Another opportunity lies along the perimeter of the store
as demand grows for fresh offerings. Hale cautioned,
though, against ignoring the center store, which still represents the bulk of in-store sales.

Research by NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel
Retailing, shows the typical convenience store shopper
earns about $50,000. This lower-income consumer household has seen a decrease in discretionary share of wallet
and has no discretionary spend. On the other end of the pay
scale, high-income households earn more than $100,000,
and have seen their income increase $46,000 since 2007
and a 101-percent growth in discretionary spend.

Recognizing the role indulgence plays in consumer
demands is also key, he said. While there is a move toward
health and wellness, not all claims are working and there's a

26 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

* Price value; and
* The three "Fs" of service: fast, friendly and frictionless.


http://www.CSNEWS.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Convenience Store News - May 2018

Contents
Convenience Store News - May 2018 - Cover1
Convenience Store News - May 2018 - Cover2
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Convenience Store News - May 2018 - Contents
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