One indicator of the health of an industry is the intensity of the competition within it. Nowhere is that truer than in the convenience store business. Relative to other retail channels, the convenience vertical has recently seen tremendous growth. In 2018, a whopping 84% of convenience retailers reported in-store sales increases.
Along with this growth exists an increasingly saturated competitive market, as food and discount retailers begin to intrude on the convenience store business. Now more than ever, convenience retailers are searching for innovative ways to stay competitive.
At CB4, we got our start in the world of convenience retail. We crafted our product first and foremost to rise to the practical needs of convenience retailers. With a deep understanding of the competitive landscape, we know the tools c-stores are using to crack the competition.
To that end, here’s how CB4 helps your c-store chain keep the competition at bay.
CB4 Drives Same-Store Growth
We know that each store in your chain is unique. The people who work in each store are different, the vendors who service each store are different, and (most importantly) the customers at each of your locations are different.
For that very reason, driving same-store sales is hard. It’s made particularly challenging as investments in omnichannel and other technological competencies divert your attention from what’s happening in individual stores.
Our patented machine learning tool helps you understand which SKUs are in high demand at each store in your chain. More than that, CB4 churns through your data to discover when a product is failing to live up to its sales potential due to an in-store operational problem. We turn insights into action, sending alerts directly to your store managers at the same time each week so that he or she can fix the in-store execution problems that are hindering sales.
Consider what happened in a recent visit to one of our favorite c-store clients. The store manager received a CB4 notification that a popular beer was underselling. The item wasn’t on the chain-wide best sellers list, so it wouldn’t have necessarily been a priority for the manager had the recommendation not gone out. We headed to the beverage case to have a look.
The case was filled to the max with beer of all kinds. Everything looked great at a glance. We bent down to where this brand of beer should be and found two flavored versions of the beer fully stocked. Although there was no hole in the case, the classic version of the beer, i.e. the SKU for which CB4’s notification was sent, was missing.
We asked the manager whether this looked like an out-of-stock issue. As you know, vendors in c-stores often replenish products when they perceive the need for it, and are sometimes unable to do so when they themselves are waiting for more stock. “Let’s go check,” she replied, and we followed her into the stock room. After a bit of digging, we discovered two full cases of the missing beer. There were high-fives all around as we brought the beer to the floor to re-stock the cooler. “There’s this quarter’s bonus,” the district manager joked.
Successes like these happen every day in CB4 stores around the country. It’s one thing when a vendor has a prevalent issue that affects replenishment across your entire chain. It’s quite another when a seemingly small executional issue is inadvertently overlooked in an individual door. In aggregate, these in-store execution problems hinder same-store growth.
You may not realize how much this type of issue costs you because, until now, you haven’t had the tools to do so. During a PoC analysis, we’re able to estimate the amount of money your chain may be losing when products undersell at each door in your chain. Once you’ve onboarded with CB4, your CB4-enabled store managers report back to you on the issues that affect sales in their stores through the CB4 app. To gain a broader picture, you can review ROI across the board or for individual locations and SKUs in our customizable dashboard.
CB4 is proven to increase net new sales by 0.5-2.0%. For a solution that only requires 15-20 minutes of your store manager’s time per week, CB4 is a veritable win/win.
CB4 Helps Increase Items Sold Per Visit
What customers expect from the convenience store business has changed drastically in the last decade. Convenience shoppers were once happy to choose from a small selection of mass-produced goods just to get in-and-out of a store quickly. But today’s c-store shoppers are unwilling to sacrifice product selection or customer experience for speed. Convenience retailers need to stock products that meet consumers’ needs and do so immediately. If they can’t, they risk being forsaken for competitors who have the desired products on the floor and ready to sell.
Customers at CB4-enabled stores can quickly find and purchase what they want, which makes us a natural fit for the convenience store business. We make sure the most important items for your customers at each of your locations are waiting for them.
Consider an instance in which CB4 sends a recommendation for a flavor of Monster Energy drink at one store in a chain. The store happens to be right across the street from a Cross Fit Gym, so it makes sense that this location would need to stock up. The beverage is restocked each Monday by the vendor, but consistently sells out by Friday, and sales dip to zero most weekends. With CB4, your store manager will receive an alert to notify them that the popular beverage is underselling. The manager can then communicate with their vendor to ensure their deliveries include additional on hand units. The gym rats can now pick up their favorite energy drink along with their chosen protein bar.
We live in a world where 96% of global shoppers have left a store without making a purchase, and 67.3% of those shoppers did so because they couldn’t find the product the wanted. Retailers in the convenience store business can’t lose sales opportunities because customers can’t quickly find what they’re looking for. The more visible the your products are, the more products your shoppers will grab as they move quickly throughout your store.
CB4 Keeps C-Stores In Tune With Consumer Preferences
While your core convenience store business may come from time-tested categories like tobacco and salty snacks, newer categories like craft beer and ready-to-eat meals our on the rise. Category managers are pros at determining what will work across your chain and tailoring buys to rise to expected demand.
But a human won’t necessarily know the full range of factors affecting the way a specific product sells and why in an individual location. For instance, your category manager may not know that a gym recently opened down the street from one of your locations and that, as a result, one type of protein bar is now poised to fly off your shelves.
CB4’s advanced proprietary machine learning technology understands when the various conditions are present to indicate high local demand of a given SKU from week-to-week. We help individual stores capitalize on emerging categories by sending alerts when items with high demand are not selling to expectations. Proactive store managers may choose to increase units on hand or allocate more shelf space to hot categories and desirable SKUs. Thus, CB4 retailers are poised to be more convenient than ever.
CB4 Helps C-Stores Fuel Innovation
Having the correct product assortment and stock levels to meet customer needs is only half the battle. Convenience retailers are turning their attention to at-pump technology to drive fuel customers in-store and self-service checkouts to get customers out of the store with lightning speed once they’re ready to make a purchase. You’re probably rolling out tech-savvy loyalty programs to keep customers coming back for more. But these and similar methods of improving customer experience can be hard to get off the ground. They require significant coordination from your IT and operations teams to prop up.
At CB4, we make onboarding easy from the beginning. We can deliver a free Proof of Concept in just a few days based only on your pre-existing, basic POS data. Once we’re off the ground, you continue to feed us the data at the frequency that’s best for you, and we take it from there. Your IT teams can turn your attention to the other areas of innovation on your list, having checked the costliest in-store execution problems off their to-do list.
Keeping it Convenient One Store at a Time
The convenience store business is abuzz with burgeoning tech tools that are digitizing the c-store shopping experience. On a practical level, though, brick-and-mortar success only happens if you’ve got the right products in the right place at the right time. This is crucial in the convenience store business, where shoppers expect to get in-and-out of stores in minutes.
CB4 ensures that none of your doors are snoozing on SKUs with high local demand. Furthermore, it’s an easy win for your IT team. By implementing CB4’s low ask/high impact solution, they can turn their attention to other important IT initiatives.
Learn more about how to keep your c-store competitive with CB4.