This month, two new studies on foodservice in C-Stores were released by Convenience Store News and Convenience Store Decisions. We’re breaking them down, bringing you the most important highlights and sharing some of the best trends to stay on top of so you never miss a beat.
C-store retailers have known food to be a major portion of sales for quite some time. This used to just mean quick stop breakfast and lunch, but dinner is finally making its mark on sales, up 17% from last year of total food sales! Also important to note is that fresh food prepared on site posted the largest category gain from 2011 to 2014. This means it’s time to really put a focus on that foodservice program for your c-store.
Business hours are no longer just 9-5, so it’s important have a good strategy to encourage food and beverage purchase at your location for each day part! Equally important is understanding your customer demographics and catering to their needs and wants. For example c-stores tend to attract more men than women and appeal to lower income consumers. Using demographic knowledge can help you to carve out an ideal food program for your most popular consumer. Remember, what you like doesn’t matter, it’s important to offer what your consumer likes.
One critical key to an effective foodservice program is using the right equipment. Equipment should be optimized for space and usability and offer long term return on investment. You want equipment that is easy to service and clean and can also output high quality food. The easiest way to achieve a quick ROI is with a piece of multitasking equipment. Ideally you want something that can bake, cook and reheat all to perfection in a short amount of time. While not every piece of equipment needs to be able to do it all, you should look into a multitasking unit as a strong component of your foodservice program.
CSNews recommends allowing the menu to drive which type of equipment you purchase and not the other way around. This means you need to evaluate what your consumers want out of a foodservice program first, and then you can look into the purchase of equipment to help you get there.
We’ll here’s some good news for our c-store operators, the convenience channel has improved considerably over the last two years. From new sales opportunities to an increase in last minute shopping, c-stores finally have a promising outlook with the right management and strategies in place. Seasonality is one location poised for improvement in the coming years, leveraging the changing seasons, holidays and even movie releases with promotional items are all areas to work on. And while it’s important to get that seasonal food product in store in a timely manner it’s even more important to have an exit strategy for seasonal success.
As we mentioned earlier, c-stores have a great outlook for the coming years, especially with the uptick in foodservice possibilities. There is so much a store can offer with very limited resources, it just takes a dedicated team and a good plan in place. Make sure as you begin your foodservice planning that you focus on the consumer first and foremost. Research is key to a good strategy and with the prevalence of e-media it’s easier than ever before to gather data on your target consumers.
*Information gathered from the February 2015 editions of Convenience Store News and Convenience Store Decisions.