Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Core-Mark International’s Center of Excellence (CoE) facility, unveiled in early 2020, has been closed for in-person visits, temporarily shifting into a digital virtual experience.
Core-Mark has leveraged the 14,000-square-foot facility’s state-of-the-art technology to provide convenience retailers with knowledge and insights that drive new ideas, products and solutions to grow their business. For a peek into the CoE experience, check out the video tours on the CoE website.
Thanks to the Center’s high-speed videoconferencing and data analytics services, the CoE continues to be a valuable collaboration space for retailers, vendors, industry experts and Core-Mark strategists, delivering an immersive experience that reveals real-time insights into convenience trends and opportunities.
“During these unprecedented and fast-changing times, retailers need to understand what’s happening — right now — in order to make the best decisions for their business,” said Amanda Sulc, Director, Center of Excellence, Core-Mark International. “We encourage convenience retailers to ‘go digital’ with us in the CoE, and make use of this unprecedented resource to collaborate, drive new ideas and leverage data-driven insights to grow sales and profitability.”
Centered in five separate hubs, the CoE’s tools and resources include these that are particularly useful in a virtual environment:
- Data & Insights. Using Core-Mark’s three-pronged approach to data analysis, powered by Blue Yonder software, this hub enables development of SmartSet, SmartStock and customized planograms to determine the best mix of assortment and space utilization for each store.
- Store Innovation. This in-store showcase reveals the hottest trends in convenience retailing through such displays as: bulk and shareable snacks and sweets; fresh food; health and wellness; nicotine; and more. It also features the latest in technology, such as frictionless payment systems. In doing so, this hub challenges retailers to think outside the box and consider new products/categories that can capture new audiences and increase average basket size.
- Culinary Test Kitchen. Even in a virtual environment, this state-of-the-art kitchen – overseen by Chef Glenn Terrell — demonstrates best-in-class food service equipment, along with any customized food service programs that the retailers may consider for their stores. These sessions can be recorded and used as educational training for the retailer’s field personnel.
Furthermore, when the CoE fully resumes in-person experiences participants will also benefit from two other hands-on areas:
- Collaboration Hub. Here’s where retailers and their Core-Mark team can really get down to work. A CoE immersion begins here, with a strategic introduction into the opportunities and challenges facing the industry, followed by a customized presentation from the Core Solutions team that delves deeply into business reviews and analyses that set the stage for solutions. Sessions here are enhanced by the latest in presentation and collaboration technologies, such as digital dashboards.
- Training & Development. This area seats up to 76 guests in a classroom-style setting, and up to 120 for special events. It can also be converted into two separate rooms for breakout sessions, thanks to a glass whiteboard partition wall.
According to Ahmad Shehadeh, owner of Florida-based convenience retailer Exprezo, the CoE has been an invaluable tool for staying abreast of industry trends and optimizing his stores’ product mix for today’s consumer.
“The Center of Excellence opened my mind to everything Core-Mark does with merchandising and technology. It also shows that Core-Mark is willing to work with both large and smaller retail chains,” Shehadeh said.
Core-Mark is one of the largest marketers of food, fresh and broad-line supply solutions to the convenience retail industry in North America. Founded in 1888, Core-Mark offers a full range of products, marketing programs and technology solutions to 40,000+ customers in the U.S. and Canada through 32 distribution centers (excluding two distribution facilities the company operates as a third-party logistics provider). Core-Mark services traditional convenience retailers, grocers, drug, liquor and specialty stores, and other stores that carry convenience products.