Monday, June 19, 2023

Food Retailers Sales at the intersection of Falling Behind and Indecision


It is at the intersection of consumers demand and convenience that food retailers in every channel find themselves between rock and a hard place.  That space is more often than not between the newest technology and yesterday’s business model that is riddled with legacy cost that simply can no longer be justified if you want to stay in business according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

Our would today has evolved to the point where consumers like, demand, and have learned to expect; advance ordering options, fast delivery, and or subscription scheduled services.  If you don’t offer at minimum two of the options you brand simply is being over looked as an option according to Johnson.

Grocerant niche mix and match meal component bundling has disrupted the legacy food retailer’s business model.  Regular reader of this blog know that Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food continues to climb in importance at grocery store service deli’s, restaurants, convenience stores.  If you are a food retailer and you are not taking advantage of new technology to allow customers more options when they order you are missing out.  I’m sorry to say that, but consumers are driving the adoption of technology must faster than most food retailers in every service want them too.

Did you know that convenience store; GetGo Café + Market, “customers can place foodservice orders via the company’s website or the GetGo app on iOS and Android up to 24 hours in advance, according to Chris Edwards, director of GetGo technology.

Now the chain’s entire expansive, fresh, made-to-order menu is available, as well as full customization options to add or remove ingredients or modify how the dish is prepared, he explained.

Brandon Daniels, GetGo Café + Market manager of public relations, stated, “A theme you’ll see carried throughout all aspects of GetGo’s business is the ability to customize,”…“Whether it’s adding their favorite ingredients to a fresh-made sub or choosing to place an order on the GetGo app, we put technologies in place to allow guests to customize their experience.”

Putting the technology for advance ordering in place has been a “top priority” for GetGo, Daniels said. Each store with a made-to-order kitchen, about half of GetGo’s more than 260 locations throughout western Pennsylvania, Ohio, northern West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana, offers the service.

Made-to-order kitchens are a staple of the GetGo Café + Market brand, and they will be included in the numerous new stores the chain plans to add, including one in Mentor, Ohio, which opened in February, and one in Mars, Pa., in May. Since the kitchens are already set up for made-to-order food, there were no additions or changes necessary to accommodate orders placed ahead of time, he noted.

The option to place orders in advance is “heavily included in our marketing efforts,” Daniels stated. Additionally, the company’s website and app both prominently display an “order now” button on their home screens.

If customers want to enjoy GetGo made-to-order menu items without leaving their homes or offices, the company has partnered with third-party delivery services.

In February, Quality Mart introduced online ordering and delivery in five of its Winston-Salem, N.C., stores out of a total of 60-plus stores located in North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. Delivery is available within a 20-mile radius.

The online ordering segment is powered by local startup SWIPEBY’s platform. Quality Mart is using signage, a QR code and video at the fuel pumps to demonstrate to customers that it’s easy to place an order for pickup or delivery.

“This is an added level of convenience that we think will help us stand out from the competition and make our customers even more satisfied,” noted Sam Metzler, a senior vice president with Quality Oil Co., the parent company of Quality Mart convenience stores, in a statement.

So, Delivery Entices Customers Everywhere EG America, the Blackburn, U.K.-based parent company of numerous U.S. convenience store chains, including Cumberland Farms, Certified Oil, Fastrac, Kwik Shop, Loaf N’ Jug, Minit Mart, Quik Stop, Sprint, Turkey Hill and Tom Thumb, partners with DoorDash for delivery of a wide variety of foodservice items. Customers can order anything from sandwiches to snacks and pizza to coffee through DoorDash’s app and website.

Ninety percent of Cumberland Farms’ 58 locations in New England, New York and Florida work with DoorDash to offer delivery, said Stephen Skidds, Cumberland Farms’ director of food service. The company plans to add the delivery option “accordingly” as it opens new stores and as DoorDash expands its store coverage.

Cumberland Farms launched the pilot program with DoorDash in the fall of 2021. The service was rolled out chainwide in the summer of 2022.

“It has helped produce incremental sales in food and beverage and has created convenience for our guests to be able to place their order from home and have it delivered,” Skidds remarked.

The delivery service, he said, was introduced to allow Cumberland Farms to “adjust to the buying habits of guests since the pandemic and give our guests more convenient options to purchase.” Offering the service has had “very little operational impact” on the stores, he pointed out.

To inform customers about the delivery option and encourage trial, Cumberland Farms uses in-app promotions, in-store signage and other digital channels.

Another convenience option some chains are introducing is a subscription program. Circle K, for instance, offers a Sip and Save subscription which entitles enrolled customers to one drink every day for 30 days for $9.99 (less than 35 cents per day).

The program includes any size hot and iced coffee, cappuccinos, Polar Pop, hot and iced tea and aguas frescas. Refills up to 64 ounces are also included. Customers can enroll online or in the store.

Now here is the point.  Technology is expensive, changing to fast; however, if you wait to long you may never recover.  Don’t wait for the next big thing, take a new step often.

For international corporate presentations, regional chain presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions.  His extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert, and public speaking will leave success clues for all. For more information visit, FoodserviceSolutions.US or call 1-253-759-7869

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