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.”

Drinking Outside the Box

Wine in a Tetra Pak? Ready-to-drink cocktails and shots in a pouch? Brillant … if you’re a consumer. But for the convenience-store operator, these packaging innovations can be a head-scratcher.

Alternative packaging for alcohol arguably originated decades ago with wine in a box. While consumer perception of boxed wine hasn’t always been favorable, that’s no longer the case.

“Many consumers are now accepting of the ‘box wine’ proposition and appreciate the

Catch the Meal-Kit Craze

Blue Apron

Ready-to-cook meal kits are all about convenience. At least that’s what Erik Thoresen, principal with Chicago-based Technomic, thought.

But it turns out there’s more to it than that.

According to Technomic’s research, convenience is just one of the reasons behind the growing trend. Health and, interestingly, entertainment value were attractive features that showed up signi­ficantly in consumer surveys.

Rutter's Cleans Up

Rutters Farm Store convenience store

This was Rutter’s Farm Stores’ first year in the CSP/Service Intelligence Mystery Shop, and it’s off to a sparkling start.

The York, Pa.-based chain of more than 60 stores ranked ­fifth in the mystery shop overall. Helping it place high was its strong cleaning game, beginning with the exterior.

“Cleanliness is built into the culture of this company,” says Jere Matthews, vice president of operations for Rutter’s Farm Stores. “It’s been here since day one.”

Developments in the Snack Aisle

snacking data

Snacks are big business. And that big business is getting bigger—especially for convenience and dollar stores.

There’s a lot to consider when building your snack set: evolving flavor trends, new pressures from e-commerce providers (most of whom acknowledge snack varieties are a centerpiece of their selling portfolios) and the mercurial trends surrounding kids’ habits and tendencies.

Opinion: It's a Sign

store window signage

Q: If we promoted every deal we have, the entire store would be covered in signs. There is a lot of talk about marketing and promotion of foodservice products, but what signage works best for varying retail categories?

A: It is impossible to measure the exact effect of every piece of signage or marketing initiative. Still, there is solid evidence that instore signage plays an important role in driving sales. Here are some pointers from my store experiences that have resulted in effective signage.

Opinion: 40 Trips Around the Sun

40th birthday cupcake

It seems I’m turning ‑ this month.

Boy, that went by fast.

I still remember how it felt riding my bike to the Kwik Trip with my friend to pick up a bag of milk for my mom, or an Urge pizza to throw in the oven for lunch.

I remember the Sinclair station where we took our big yellow Pacer for regular tuneups. There was an old-fashioned, glass-bottle Coca-Cola machine—the kind with the bottle opener in the door. I still remember the way that soda pop tasted. It was the coldest Coke. It was the bubbliest.

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