Opinion: Keep Calm And C-Store On

online retailing

This column is starting out like all the others: a blinking line and a blank space. I’ve been staring at the cursor, matching the rhythm of my heart to the flicker on the screen, for about 11 solid minutes. Any minute now, inspiration will hit.

It always does.

The good thing is, I know what I want to write about. The question is, how?

(­Stands up to get a cup of coffee)

I’m not procrastinating. I’m not. I just can’t figure out how to talk about Amazon. I feel as if I’ve talked about it so much already.

A New Sweet Spot in Snacking

bakery

While a protein-packed cinnamon roll might seem unusual, it’s simply part of a new sweet-snack evolution that marries function with fun. With an eye on that healthy halo, consumers are mandating suppliers steer new-product innovation more toward real ingredients, natural sweetening agents, protein and portion control—all in core convenience o­fferings such as breads, biscuits, cookies, cakes, pastries, rolls and pies.

Noodles 101

pasta

Spaghetti, ramen, pho, chow mein, chicken noodle soup, mac and cheese: Noodles have a place in nearly every cuisine, from the exotic to the hyper-familiar.

Easy and economical to prepare, noodles meet consumers’ needs on several fronts, including robust ­flavor, health and, often, customizability. There’s also the lure of ethnic in­fluences, as evidenced by Asian-style noodle bowls, which have been trending for the past few years. In fact, MenuMonitor data from Technomic shows that Asian bowl meals are up 10% on restaurant menus since 2011.

Want to Sell More Vape?

Vaping man

While there is no magic bullet when it comes to selling vape and e-cigarette products in c-stores, the industry has matured to the point that experts can help retailers and suppliers learn from their mistakes, and continue to ride the category’s history of innovation.

Cynthia Cabrera, consultant with Miami-based Cating Group, spoke with Convenience Store Products on the e­ffect of NJOY’s bankruptcy, the role of brick-and-mortar retail and what operators should consider if they want to sell more vaping-related products.

Filling In With Frozen

Frozen food aisle

A typical grocery store has a lot of square footage devoted to frozen food—space that isn’t as readily available in c-stores. But don’t write off­ frozen completely.

“We are seeing a lot more just-in-time shopping, and this is causing shoppers to spread their dollars across more channels and retailers,” says Susan Viamari, vice president of thought leadership for Chicago-based IRI.

The Hot 100

Lighting a match

It’s been only about 400 days since we launched CStoreProductsOnline.com, and we’ve already amassed seven times that number in hot new products available to the industry.

In a little more than a year, we’ve put together a database of nearly 2,800 products. The site has become a go-to for retailers interested in finding new-product trends before they become, well, trends. It’s a new-product repository, a time stamp of consumer demands, and a catalogue of the core products that still make up 80% of your sales.

Defeating the Easy Button

Amazon Dash Red Bull button

Button, button—who’s got the Amazon Dash Button?

Unfortunately, brands in your store. Hershey, for one, established an Ice Breakers dash button in 2015. Other candy and snack brands participating are Mondelez, Wrigley (Orbit gum), Clif Bar, Frito-Lay (Doritos) and Perfetti Van Melle (Mentos).

Is Your Refrigerator Running?

running refrigerator

Three words c-store foodservice operators never want to hear: The machine’s down. But as foodservice programs grow more sophisticated, best practices for equipment maintenance, repair and staffing are critical.

Steve Every, vice president of managed service and international for The ICEE Co., Ontario, Calif., likens buying equipment without preventive maintenance to “buying a car with the ‘check engine’ light on.”

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