During Tuesday’s NACS Show, guests had the chance to attend a variety of educational sessions.
By CSD Staff
The 2014 NACS Show opened in Las Vegas yesterday afternoon, Tuesday, Oct. 7, and education sessions were high on the agenda.
In the session “Creating A Dialogue With Your Customers,” DJ Saul, chief marketing officer, iStrategyLabs, walked retailers through creative ways to interface with customers. “People know when they’re being sold to—especially Millennials,” Saul noted. “Brands achieve the most success by activating the soft sell.”
From a coffee display that dispenses a cup of Joe when it senses someone yawn, to a soap dispenser that sounds an alarm when it detects a human who has not pressed to dispense soap to a locker that pops open revealing a photobooth when tweeted at, opportunities abound to interact and engage with customers in unique ways.
“Smarter products + more data+ smarter marketers = ROI. More data gives us better understanding of our audience and customers,” Saul said.
C-stores have a particularly challenging time because the average engagement is only about three minutes. Saul advised, “Keep it simple. They’re not going to download an app in the moment. So Bluetooth low energy triggering by proximity or something that doesn’t require me to actually do anything is key. Even asking people to tweet in the store is too much. Look for the simplest thing—then keep the ask as minimal as possible.”
In the session “Networks Networks Networks,” Mario Balakgie, director, cyber security, World Wide Technology Inc., noted that instead of thinking in terms of avoiding a breach, the new mindset is ‘I’m going to be breached, and I need to know what happens next.’
As times have changed, hackers have become more sophisticated and traditional methods of blocking and preventing aren’t sufficient alone. “You’re looking for known issues, but 64% of victims are notified by an external entity that they have a breach. That’s because these attackers are getting around those traditional blocks—they’re entering your system as a known user,” Balakgie said.
Retailers need continuous monitoring in order to minimize the amount of time and damage involved in an attack.
“You want to make sure if an attacker gets into your network that you can isolate and eradicate as fast as possible,” he said. Continuous monitoring can also help with forensic analysis following a breach to help better prevent or prepare to quickly eliminate future breaches.
In the session, “Attracting the Hispanic Consumer,“ Juan Carlos Davila, SVP & GM, Hispanic market, Nielsen, noted that the Hispanic consumer is changing. Today there are 55 million Latinos in the U.S. and about 64% are U.S. born. Their incomes are rising and they want to be bicultural. While some may attempt to reach Hispanics across the board, it’s important to note that this total market approach can backfire depending on your demographic. U.S. born Hispanics and foreign born Hispanics have vastly different lifestyle and shopping habits.
For example, One generalization—“they’re very young”— is true of U.S. born Hispanics, as 75% of U.S. born Hispanics are under the age of 35, but almost 75% of foreign born are over 35. U.S. born Hispanics are more likely to live in two people homes, but foreign born are more likely to live in five people homes. U.S. born Hispanics are more wide spread across the map, but mostly in the Southwest, while foreign born are very concentrated in the Southeast. Demographics are also driving differences in basket spend and composition. Balakgie noted this is why it’s essential, if you have Hispanic shoppers, to know more about exactly who your shopper is before marketing to them.
One session entitled “Big Ideas in Technology for Small Operators,” touched on technological solutions that some convenience stores have enacted to become more operationally efficient.
Greg Smith, director of management information systems for Lassus Handy Dandy convenience stores, headquartered in Fort Wayne, Ind., explained the chain’s IT processes have evolved in the last few years due in part to contracting with outside vendors. The result has been lower costs, increased up time, and greater bandwidth that has expanded the technical capabilities of all of its stores, especially when it comes to informational requirements.
“We have 32 stores and they all share the same amount of data, said Smith, who was joined by Colette Blount, director of marketing for Nixon, Texas-based Tiger Tote Food Stores Inc.
In another session, entitled “State of the Plate: Food Trends,” the discussion turned to how can c-stores best meet customers’ demand when it comes to an effective foodservice program.
According to presenter Annika Stensson, senior manager of research communications for the National Restaurant Association, growing foodservice trends in the country reflect the varying tastes of Americans. Some of those trends that consumers are embracing include: healthier food, non-wheat pasta, sustainable seafood; local sourced produce and ethnic cuisine. One message for c-stores included the importance of understanding how to best meet what customers want.
“Food is where it’s at, but we have to stay on top of the trends,” said presenter Nancy Caldarola, executive director of the NACS Center for Achieving Foodservice Excellence (NACS CAFÉ).
As part of an effective foodservice program, a panel comprising Keith Boston, director of prepared foods for Cumberland Group of Companies, and Jerry Weiner, vice president of foodservice at Rutter’s Food Stores, based in York, Pa. provided insight outlining a session called “Menu Planning: Serving Up Success.” Covering a host of considerations that c-stores might tackle to bolster their menus, one message was clear: bigger isn’t always better.
Boston said that continuing to add items without careful analysis of what offerings work and what doesn’t can be a waste of effort and money. Instead engineering an effective menu includes such components as competitive product, ingredients, process, operational efficiency and new technology.
In addition, Weiner emphasized that operational efficiency can include eliminating unnecessary foodservice preparation steps, from “the box to the bag.”
The NACS show concludes Friday.