Next week Tecmark will be traveling to Atlanta to exhibit at the NACS Show. The Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing (NACS) show is held once a year and boasts over 20,000 attendees. The show is full of products, educational sessions, networking and more. This will be Tecmark's first time exhibiting and we look forward to being a part of this show.
Brent has gone to show before and last time he attended he brought back a video called "Ideas to Go". NACS creates a highlight video of innovative c-stores called "Ideas to Go" that is shown during one of the general sessions at the show. NACS has been traveling around the country collecting innovative retailing stories since 1994 to share with the industry. This is one session I am really looking forward and I read a sneak peak article in the latest issue of NACS magazine.
One of the key traits of successful businesses, c-store and beyond, is their ability to innovate. In the growing c-store industry it is essential to find ways to stand out from the competition. The companies featured in "Ideas to Go" have been able to find success beyond just gas and candy.
Stop and Go Mini Mart in Bend, Oregon
This c-store took the popularity of the craft brew scene and translated it into c-store success. They offer growlers of 36 different kinds of craft beer and 8 taps of kombucha. Providing both of these beverages shows their passion for understanding what their customers want beyond just gas. Even though it is common for c-stores to sell beer Stop and Go is capitalizing on the craft beer scene to offer more than 6 picks of the same old beer.
Earth Market in Frankfort, IL
This c-store has increased customer loyalty through an innovative recycling program. Customers can bring in their used hot beverage cup for the store to recycle and also receive 10 cents off. They are also passionate about a clean, fully stocked hot beverage bar to serve their diverse clientele. For a c-store that opened on Earth Day in an industry not known as the most earth friendly, Earth Market stands out with their passion for the environment.
Bolla Market in Brooklyn, New York City
The owner increased sales by taking a chance on a made to order deli with fresh soups and salads. Customers loved the idea so much that sales went from $100,000 to $240,000 in six months. With fresh foods Bolla Market is taking c-store sandwiches and salads to the next level.
The article highlighted a few more examples including the increasing popularity of gourmet food at c-stores something that I find personally very exciting. What all of these innovative c-stores display is a focus on their customers and a deep understanding of what they want. Another c-store featured, Oasis Stop ‘N Go, credits their loyalty program with increasing the frequency of their customers visits. Knowing who your customers are and rewarding them for their loyalty can give you a competitive edge.
One other trait these businesses all have is they took a chance on something new. It can be difficult to think of something new and innovative, but the work can pay off in the end. One way to start innovating is to talk to your customers and figure out if you are meeting their needs, what else they would like and what would make them come back more.
If you are going to be at the show be sure to stop by Booth 3854 to learn more about Tecmark's loyalty and marketing tools (and enter to win cool prizes).