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A Twist On Refreshment

April 24, 2017

Both bottled water and sports drinks are thirst quenchers that continue to be staples in the convenience channel.

According to research firm Mintel, 83% of U.S. consumers drink unflavored still bottled water, compared with 82% drinking tap water. Flavored still bottled water was consumed by 48% of those surveyed, and 46% sought out both unflavored and flavor-enhanced still bottled water.

The report, “Bottled Water U.S. January 2017,” also indicated that 17% of U.S. consumers drink flavored sparkling bottled/canned water frequently, compared with 16% preferring both unflavored and flavored enhanced still bottled water.

Promotions tend to have a big impact on sales for both bottled water and sports drinks.

“In the grocery channel, a deal may promote 10 beverage bottles for $10 or $1 per bottle, whereas in c-stores, a buy-one-get-one offer is only good for those who buy multiple products, with the first beverage at full price and the second either reduced or free. It’s about moving more units through and increasing the rings,” said Marylou Mendez, chief financial officer at Mendez Automotive Services Plaza Chevron Service Center, based in Costa Mesa, Calif. “We do a lot with Smartwater, our No. 1 seller that has a year-round promotion of buy a liter at full price and get a second for 50 cents.”

The retailer also carries Core water, which is experiencing increasing sales, as well as another top seller, Gatorade. The latter is offered in a two-for-one deal, with lemonade, lemon-lime and fruit punch flavors selling best, along with the newer cucumber-lime line.

In addition to promotions, Mintel’s report confirmed that the environmental impact has had an effect on consumption of bottled water. Consumers prefer reusable packaging for these beverages as well as biodegradable materials.

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Personalization Helps Retailers Compete

April 21, 2017

BRP report shows how personalization is critical and what it means.

According to a new special report from Boston Retail Partners (BRP), personalization has gone well beyond simple marketing to demographic groups, customer segments or even personas. It is more than simply greeting a customer by name when they walk in the store and it goes beyond merely offering product recommendations on your website. Personalization is not just a trend – it is a critical way for retailers to differentiate their brand to compete against companies like Amazon, according to the BRP SPECIAL REPORT: “Personalizing the Customer Experience.”

“Consumers’ constant ability to shop and easily research products and prices has made it imperative for retailers – especially those with brick and mortar locations – to find creative ways to entice customers into the store,” said Jeff Neville, vice president, BRP. “The best and most powerful way to do this is through personalization.”

Personalization encapsulates all the details that make your customer’s shopping experience unique to her. It involves knowing your customer and understanding her past purchases and current interests, but it also encompasses how the experience itself meets the customer’s needs for a personalized product or service.

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Meet Dana!

April 19, 2017

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I have lived in the Tri-Cities for 28 years. I have been married for 28 years, and I have a 26 year old son.

 

What made you want to work in Store Solutions?

I had 13 years previous retail experience working at Pay-N-Save and I had done a lot of store resets during that time. I like re-organizing and improving the appearance of the store. I also like working with customers. This is a very challenging job, and I take a lot of pride in it!

 

What areas do you cover?

Eastern Washington, NE Oregon, Western Idaho

 

What does a day at work look like for you?

A typical day is either setting/tagging a new store account, or resetting and re-organizing an existing store with the most up to date schematics and racks.

 

What is your favorite thing about your job?

Traveling so many places. I get to meet great people, and make an impact for both the customer and Harbor.

 

If you were to use one word to describe Harbor, what would it be?

Generous

 

Do you have any hobbies?

I like to travel, boating, reading, going to country music concerts, and I LOVE zip lining!

 

If you were a snack item, what snack item would you be?

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup

 

What is one interesting fact about you?

In 2007 I decided to make a lifestyle change and had Lap-Band surgery. I have lost 120 pounds, and have maintained that since!

Food Quality Factors into Customers’ Gas Station Choice

April 17, 2017

National survey reveals gas prices still key in selecting a station.

After years of fighting negative perceptions about food quality, customers are finally coming around to the idea that many c-stores have fresh, healthy food.

What’s more, Americans are increasingly seeking out fueling locations based on the quality of the food associated with the gas station, according to new national survey results released by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

The association represents the convenience store industry, which sells 80% of the fuel purchased in the U.S.

While survey results show that gas price is still the primary determinant in selecting a station, an increasing percentage of consumers say that the quality of items inside the store dictates where they buy fuel. In fact, one in seven drivers (16%) say that the in-store offer is driving their fueling decision, a five-point increase since 2015.

A majority (51%) of American drivers still say that the gas price is the reason that they prefer a specific store or chain, but that is a six-point drop over the past two years.

Because of the expanded food and beverage offers at stores, fueling customers also are going inside the store more: 42% of those fueling up also went inside the store, a 7-point jump from two years ago. For those going inside, the most popular reasons were to pay for gas at the register (50%), buy a beverage (45%) or buy a snack (36%). More than one in five (22%) say they used the rest room. Overall, 8% say they bought a sandwich or meal, and that percentage jumps to 13% for younger consumers ages 18 to 34.

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POS Grows With the Times

April 14, 2017

Point of sale innovation will continue to improve the customer experience.

By Pat Pape, Contributing Editor

Russell Gibson knows technology.

As manager of marketing technical services for Sinclair Oil Corp. of Salt Lake City, Gibson is aware of the latest tech trends in most retail channels.

But he was wowed recently at a restaurant in San Diego, when the server brought the bill to his table, along with a handheld credit card machine, and his companion paid on the spot with his Apple watch.

“I don’t know if the restaurant was using Bluetooth or near-field communication [two forms of wireless communications over short distances],” Gibson said. “But I can see in the future where somebody—rather than use their phone—will use their watch to start a fuel pump and pay for the gas.”

PROGRESSIVE POS
Although point of sale (POS) was once a system for ringing up sales, tracking the movement of merchandise and managing inventory, the tech industry continues to create new POS tools to improve store management and customer service. The same POS platform that processes sales can easily operate a loyalty program and present consumers with attractive promotions.

Mobile payments were slow to take off, but according to a recent survey by Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C., nearly 66% of participants think that smartphones will replace traditional payment choices by 2020. Comparably, the Nielsen Co. reports that 84% of shoppers are more likely to patronize stores that reward them for being a loyal patron.

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Meet Fritz!

April 12, 2017

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I am originally from Ellensburg, WA and moved to western Washington about 25 years ago. I have had a lot of different jobs, right out of school I built ski lifts. After building ski lifts I went to work for Coca-Cola bottling company, and then I worked for a Pepsi distributor before eventually coming to Harbor.

 

What made you want to work in Foodservice Development?

After starting in coffee, I moved into foodservice thinking it would be more entertaining. I also thought I would be able to work with more product lines and do more for Harbor.

 

What areas do you cover?

I cover as far north as Renton and as far south as Castle Rock. I cover as east as White Pass and west as Ocean Shores. I also get to work with 7 different Territory Managers.

 

What does a day at work look like for you?

I train stores with proper food handling, and also show and teach them about new products. I also start up new Foodservice programs within existing stores.

 

What is your favorite thing about your job?

I have freedom and flexibility, while still doing the same thing every day. It’s always fresh and exciting! People are always happy to see me too because I usually have food I can feed them for lunch.

 

If you were to use one word to describe Harbor, what would it be?

Cutting edge.

 

Do you have any hobbies?

I like going to the gym, it helps me to relax. I also enjoy anything outdoors like hiking, the beach, golfing, weekend road trips, and anything around water!

 

If you were a snack item, what snack item would you be?

This has to be foodservice related- chicken tenders. I sell that item more than any other product we carry!

 

What is one interesting fact about you?

I played for a minor league baseball farm team out of Yakima. I pitched with Todd Stottlemyre before I got injured and couldn’t play any longer.

10 Ideas to Drive Summer Store Traffic

April 10, 2017

1. Collaborate with a food truck

Hop on one the biggest food trends of the past decade and host a local food truck in your lot. These small, mobile businesses serve everything from doughnuts to gourmet tacos and cupcakes. In 2016, Minneapolis-based retailer Metro Petro partnered with f’real, which provides in store milkshake and smoothie blending systems, to host its f’real food  truck at its site.

 

2. Show your employees love

Salute your employees by letting them invite three friends or family members to your store for special summer discounts. The long-term benefit to the retailer exceeds the cost of discounting items.

 

3. Host a curbside cookout

Jeremy Saunders, owner of Saunders Oil Co., Warren, Ill., with five stores in Wisconsin, in  summer has a lunchtime “Cookout Friday.” Saunders rolls out a smoker grill and pop-up tent. “Every week, the grill lights up and the smoke wafts around the neighborhood,” says Ieva Grimm, president of consultancy Synerge, Duncansville, Pa. The offer leads to incremental weekly food sales.

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HBA Items Fill Niche

April 6, 2017

Because of space constraints and better-equipped competitors, the health and beauty aids (HBA) category in 2017 will fill a role that it has for years in convenience stores: an essential, but unspectacular part of the in-store mix.

From pain relief, cough/cold/allergy, skin medications, vitamins and personal care to smoking cessation, supplements and cosmetics, HBA is a wide-ranging category of items consumers need—often when away from home. Hence, convenient trial sizes, careful pricing and well-stocked shelves will continue to translate into sales dollars.

John Montoya, vice president of store operations for eight-unit JR’s Country Stores, based in Pueblo, Colo., acknowledged that c-stores will never be a destination location for HBA.

“We are at a total disadvantage (competing against chain drug stores, supermarkets and dollar stores),” Montoya said. “People look at us for just the little things they need. If you’ve got a headache, you need some aspirin, you stop at our store. If you have a cold and you’re close by, you will drop by and grab a small container of cough medicine. We just fit the pocket.”

IMPULSE BUYING
This is borne out by retail trends. As Euromonitor International recently reported, mass-market retailers such as supermarkets and drug stores are expanding their health-and-wellness offerings, including vitamins and dietary supplements, and reorganizing their stores to position these products together. They are also leveraging impulse purchases.

“Customers who come to the store to pick up a prescription or buy an over-the-counter product augment their purchase with vitamins and dietary supplements,” Montoya said.

The drug store channel might have the most selection, but c-stores still offer expediency, even when it comes to cosmetics. Information Resources Inc. (IRI) total All Scan Convenience Store figures for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 25, 2016 show nails (artificial nails, polish, polish remover, nail treatments and more) at $6.1 million, and accessories (eyelash adhesives and curlers, false eyelashes, makeup applicators, makeup remover) at $4.1 million, among the top-selling items.

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Meet Chris!

April 5, 2017

Tell us about yourself and your background.

I was born in Portland, and with the exception of a few years in Arizona, I have lived all of my life in Oregon. I will celebrate my 30th wedding anniversary this year. Gordon and I have three daughters.

What made you want to work in Sales?

I started as a Merchandiser then moved into an Account Manager role. Sales seemed like a challenge and a great next step. Neil Harmon was my manager at the time and gave me a shot at it!

What areas do you cover?

I cover the greater Portland area as well as the west end of the Columbia River Gorge.

What does a day at work look like for you?

Every day is different but always involves a lot of customer interaction, loads of time in the car, problem solving, working with the amazing Harbor support crews at Lacey, and always a sense of something being unfinished!

What is your favorite thing about your job?

All of the different people that I get to interact with throughout the week, both the Harbor crew and my customers. Even during challenging times, I try to remember that it’s a privilege to be our customer’s business partner. There are so many amazing, smart and hardworking people who we serve. I also love the diversity of my customer base and getting to understand other cultures through them.

If you were to use one word to describe Harbor, what would it be?

Static!

Do you have any hobbies?

I love to garden, travel, read, and ride my horse.

If you were a snack item, what snack item would you be?

A chocolate covered pretzel.

What is one interesting fact about you?

I’m a court appointed advocate for children in the juvenile justice system. There’s a tremendous need in all counties throughout Oregon and Washington!

Snacks for Breakfast?

April 3, 2017

Technavio sees global snack market growth including at breakfast time.

According to the latest market study released by Technavio, the global savory snacks market is expected to reach USD $175.85 billion by 2021, growing at a CAGR of more than 5%.

This research report titled ‘Global Savory Snacks Market 2017-2021’ provides an in-depth analysis of the market in terms of revenue and emerging market trends. To calculate the market size, the report considers the revenue generated through the sales of different types of savory snacks through various retail outlets and foodservice establishments, which include but not limited to hypermarkets, supermarkets, convenience stores, independent retailers, discount stores, warehouse clubs and others.

Snack items are largely being consumed as replacements for breakfast especially nuts and seeds — a factor that is helping to create a massive opportunity for global players to introduce innovative product offerings, keeping in mind the nutrition and taste preferences of consumers. An increasing number of snackers, primarily in the North American and European markets, and the preference for snacks as breakfast items have increased the sales of savory snacks.

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