By Ed Collupy
The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Show being held this month offers convenience store retailers an opportunity to learn about the latest trends and innovations impacting all areas of a convenience store, including technology, through more than 50 education sessions.
Let’s discuss some of the education sessions being presented that deal with technology and other related topics.
At the “Mobile Payment Solutions” session I will join my colleague Doug Rodewald, a partner from W. Capra Consulting Group. Along with moderator, Doug New, vice president and chief information officer of Tedeschi Food Shops/7-Eleven, our team will provide clarity to the many mobile engagement strategies available and how retailers can quickly bring them to market.
Mobile is an important topic right now as a material part of the market is assessing how they want to engage consumers via a mobile channel. Not understanding the complexity, options and models of mobile solutions that can be pursued make convenience store retailers vulnerable to longer time to market, regret cost and moving forward with a solution that doesn’t meet all of their requirements.
This session offers best practices to deliver and prepare for operations as well as defines expected value and cost frameworks through informed business strategies. Some of those best practices, which will be discussed in-depth, include fully understanding your business objective as solutions still tend to be siloed for functionality.
What’s more, don’t treat mobile as a new card product, but think of it as a new marketing and engagement channel. Expect the solution to involve multiple suppliers. An app developer will most likely not have the back end capabilities.
“Is That A Smart Promotion? How to Monetize Your POS Data,” a session I am moderating, addresses a challenge I’ve been hearing from smaller convenience store operators: What can I do with all the data my point of sale (POS) and back office systems provide? Through use cases, Jeff Campbell, vice president of Applied Predictive Technologies (APT), a provider of business analytics software to help consumer-facing businesses, outlines how POS transaction log (T-log) data can help you rethink decisions and take actionable steps.
Retailers have a broad range of types of decisions they can make using their POS data. A few best practices that will be highlighted in the session include:
• Designing more profitable promotions based on factors, such as how much customers buy along with the promoted items and how much money the promotion will cost to run, etc.
• Improving merchandising strategies using adjacencies, by understanding which items have a high likelihood of being purchased at the same time.
• Additional areas that will not be specifically discussed in the session but are valuable uses of POS data include: SKU rationalization, new product introductions and marketing effectiveness.
This is timely, because an increasing number of convenience store retailers are investing in collecting data through their POS systems. For many, the challenge is no longer how to collect and store this data, but how to use it to make better decisions.
However, for many convenience store retailers who are just beginning to prioritize analyzing this data, it can be difficult to know which questions to ask to generate the insights needed to make smarter decisions. This session will walk through those questions so that convenience retailers know what types of questions they should be prioritizing.
For others, the challenge is that the basic sales reports they receive aren’t sufficient to make the most profitable decisions about which items to promote, how to optimize merchandise strategy and more.
To more accurately identify opportunities to improve the profitability of their merchandising and marketing decisions, these c-store retailers must look beyond basic sales data, to more granular and insightful information, including which items are purchased together, which items drive loyalty, and more. This session will discuss how to find these insights and why each is important to driving profitability.
A “Payments Technology Deep Dive” is on deck as one of the many Technology Edge workshops. This session, led by Terry Mahoney, partner at W. Capra Consulting Group, will include results from a survey Terry and his panel—Jenny Bullard, chief information officer for Flash Foods, a convenience store chain based in Waycross, Ga.; Kara Kazazaen, director payment services for Walmart; and Jim DuBoyce, consultant of the W. Capra Consulting Group—have undertaken and provide the opportunity for their perspectives.
KEEP YOUR PHONES ON
Speaking of surveys: Audience members won’t be reminded to turn their mobile devices off this year. Instead, they will be encouraged to use the ‘Touch’ technology being introduced for the first time at the NACS Education Sessions. Speakers can receive feedback from the audience and can get audience poll results displayed in real time—now that’s engagement!
TAKE IT HOME
What are you to do with all that you learn at the NACS Show? Roberta Oster Sachs, president at Oster Sachs Communications, puts attendees to work with participatory exercises and outlines proven “Power and Influence at Work” techniques during her session. She will help you be at your best as you tell the story about something you discovered over your couple of days at the NACS Show and want to see implemented in your convenience stores.
Wrap it all together along with the show floor, the Technology Edge Solutions Center, and networking events and your 2015 NACS experience will be successful for you personally and for your business.
Ed Collupy, executive consultant at W. Capra Consulting Group can be reached at [email protected] He recently joined W. Capra after 18 years at The Pantry Inc. At The Pantry, Collupy served as vice president of the IT leadership team and most recently directed and supported all of The Pantry retail systems for store operations, merchandising and fuel teams.