12/28/22 – Good Riddance DayDecember 28, 2022
Don’t let crooks rob you of your data!December 7, 2022
MARS, WRIGLEY UNVEIL MORE THAN 30 NEW PRODUCT INNOVATIONSMay 24, 2017
From new Starburst and Snickers to M&M’s and Skittles, iconic candies are getting flavor extensions.
CHICAGO – During this week’s National Confectioners Association (NCA) Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago, Mars Chocolate North America and Wrigley will share a unified vision of driving growth for customers through three key areas: product innovations, effective activations and selling strategies. Taking center stage at the trade show are several new flavor extensions to consumers’ favorite brands, including: Extra Chewy Mints; 5 Gum Mega Packs; M&M’S Caramel Chocolate Candies; M&M’s White Chocolate Candies; Skittles and Starburst Sweet Heat; Snickers & Hazelnut Bar; and Twix Dark Chocolate Cookie Bars.
“This year we’re launching more than 30 new products and packs that offer a range of choices to meet consumer preferences,” said Timothy LeBel, president of sales for Mars Chocolate North America, in a press release. “Our new products deliver on several key industry trends, including focusing on transparency and choice, offering the opportunity to indulge in moderation, and meeting consumers’ desire for fun and functional gum and mints, as well as new formats and flavors in chocolate. We’re tapping into consumer trends and producing surprising twists and experiences from our most popular brands.”
In addition to product innovations, Wrigley and Mars Chocolate will unveil new selling strategies aimed at driving sales for retailers. “We’re looking within and even beyond our category to not only understand what innovations will resonate with consumers, but also to truly understand the way they shop for those products,” said Edward Taylor, vice president of U.S. sales and operations for Wrigley. “Helping our partners maximize opportunities is a top priority for us and to expand on the success of our Transaction Zone Vision program, we’ll be highlighting a variety of new shopper behavior findings from our Path-to-Purchase research at this year’s show, as well as sharing online insights.”
Read NACS Online here
⇒ Are you sick of adding new products?
Please tell me you aren’t doing this at the register or gas pump controller?
CHIP CARDS PROBLEMATIC FOR ONLINE FRAUDFebruary 14, 2017
Criminals are migrating from brick-and-mortar retailers to online stores.
NEW YORK CITY – With more U.S. retailers adopting credit-card chip technology, thieves have begun to move from brick-and-mortar stores to online retailers, Bloomberg reports. Use of stolen card data to purchase goods via websites, mobile apps or call centers skyrocketed 40% in 2016, according to a new report from Javelin Strategy & Research.
“We are seeing more sophisticated types of fraud moving into the online environment,” said Erika Dietrich, global director of payments risk management at ACI Worldwide. A study released last summer found that one in three consumers worldwide has experienced card fraud.
By the end of 2016, nearly 1.81 million merchants in the United States could accept chip cards, a two-fold rise from 2015, according to Visa Inc. E-commerce retailers and financial firms will shell out $9.2 billion each year in fraud-reduction initiatives by 2020, a 30% jump from current levels, according to Juniper Research.
Worldwide, sales of merchandise purchased online is estimated to hit $27.7 trillion in 2020, up sharply from $22 trillion in 2016, according to eMarketer. This increased online shopping means thieves will have more opportunities to grab financial data or to place orders with stolen information. “Right now the environment is more challenging than it’s ever been,” said Al Pascual, research director and head of fraud and security at Javelin. “And things will get worse before they get better.”
Support for older versions of Internet Explorer EndedMay 31, 2016
What is end of support?
Beginning January 12, 2016, only the most current version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system will receive technical support and security updates. Internet Explorer 11 is the last version of Internet Explorer, and will continue to receive security updates, compatibility fixes, and technical support on Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10.
Internet Explorer 11 offers improved security, increased performance, better backward compatibility, and support for the web standards that power today’s websites and services. Microsoft encourages customers to upgrade and stay up-to-date on the latest browser for a faster, more secure browsing experience.
What does this mean?
It means you should take action. After January 12, 2016, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or technical support for older versions of Internet Explorer. Security updates patch vulnerabilities that may be exploited by malware, helping to keep users and their data safer. Regular security updates help protect computers from malicious attacks, so upgrading and staying current is important.
Potential risk of using older versions of Internet Explorer:
Without critical browser security updates, your PC may become vulnerable to harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software which can steal or damage your business data and information.
Businesses that are governed by regulatory obligations such as HIPAA should conduct due diligence to assess whether they are still able to satisfy compliance requirements using unsupported software.
Lack of ISV Support
Many Independent Software Vendors(ISVs) no longer support older versions of Internet Explorer. For example, Office 365 takes advantage of modern web standards and runs best with the latest browser.
EMV is real, like it or not.March 31, 2016
CAN WE GET A ‘MEH’?
Survey finds that consumers don’t seem to care whether payment terminals are EMV capable.
NEW YORK – Forbes writes “there was a lot of hoopla” surrounding the October 1, 2015, EMV liability shift date, where retailers that did not upgrade to EMV-capable payment technology would become liable for any fraudulent purchases that resulted from chip-card transactions.
According to a recent CardHub survey, 42% of retailers have not updated terminals in their stores to make them EMV-compliant—and consumers don’t seem to care, writes Forbes. The publication added that CardHub found “some 56% of people surveyed don’t care if a retailer’s payment terminal is chip-enabled, and 41% of consumers say they don’t have—or don’t know if they have—a chip-enabled credit card.”
Of the retailers CardHub included in its survey, only 60% that said they would complete equipment upgrades by the October 1, 2015, liability shift deadline have finished updating all of their terminals.“We were a little bit surprised by just how slow the uptake is here,” Jill Gonzalez, an analyst at CardHub, told Forbes, adding, “The banks did their part, the financial institutions got their chip-enabled cards out, and the retailers really are taking their time.” She also says that retailers “aren’t feeling the pressure of being responsible for fraudulent activity” because it hasn’t become a financial reality.
However, as Conexxus Executive Director Gray Taylor points out, many retailers haven’t flipped the switch to accept EMV payments “because they can’t, reasonably or unreasonably.” There’s also strong indication from retailers that the October 1, 2017, liability shift for outdoor payment equipment (i.e., dispensers) will be difficult to reach for those same reasons. “What has resulted is retailer abuse—starving innovation, paying premiums for development, putting equipment into the market with the understanding that multiple site-down visits will be required—has never been seen before in any mandate,” he told NACS Daily.
“Furthermore, the card companies aren’t calling EMV a mandate, but for retailers who don’t do it, chargebacks will go from a light sprinkle to a massive downpour.”
Forbes writes that installing EMV-compliant terminals is a dual-cost process for retailers. The first cost is upgrading (or in some instances replacing) all of their terminals, and the second cost is terminal activation. For consumers, their “meh” attitude is likely because education about EMV chip cards hasn’t emphasized the security aspect.
Retailers may have a “Meh” attitude but EMV is real and MUST be addressed. It’s a difficult process for everyone but our QIR Certified Staff can help to answer your questions. Don’t wait until the chargebacks start to happen, as was the case with one of our customers.
BACKUP YOUR DATA!March 30, 2016
That means spring forward
change the batteries on the smoke detectors
— BACKUP YOUR DATA —
Backing up your data is like flossing your teeth.
You don’t have to floss them all
just the ones you want to keep.
MAKING PEOPLE SMILE in SeattleMarch 28, 2016
SEATTLE – Usually signs are in the business of letting potential—and current—customers know about sales, special events and other information related to the company. Most convenience stores use outdoor signage to highlight specials and products, but the Wallingford Chevron gasoline station and convenience store has taken a different tack: humor.
For more than a decade, this station’s sign has posted amusing sayings to the delight of customers and residents. The genesis of the humorous postings is traced back to when the owners replaced an auto repair shop with a convenience store. To get the word out about the change, the owners hit on the idea of entertaining signage, the News Republic reports.
Popular messages include:
- Ban pre-shredded cheese—make America grate again.
- If attacked by a mob of clowns, go for the juggler.
- When it’s raining cats & dogs, don’t step in a poodle.
- A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.
- Hold the door open for a clown. It’s a nice jester.
- Ever stop to think and forget to start again?
- The past, present & future walk into a bar. It was tense.
- I child-proofed my house but the kids still get in.
- If pride comes before a fall, humility should come by winter.
- I checked into the hokey-pokey clinic & I turned myself around.
The station has a dedicated Facebook page for the Wallingford Sign with photos of its most popular ones.
Full article found here:
Ever Heard of Advocacy Cards?February 26, 2016
You haven’t, because they don’t yet exist. Read on to find out if the concept is something you should consider for your operation.
By Steve Dwyer, CSP Reporter , Feb. 4, 2016
Advocacy cards. They don’t have quite the same ring as loyalty cards do, but maybe get used to the idea?
While advocacy cards are not a living, breathing thing, advocating for customers is fast becoming the new way retailers should approach customer relationship-building beyond simple loyalty efforts.
While a loyalty card program rewards consumers for quantity of goods and services bought, advocacy cards could go a step further to inform the qualitative aspect of the retailer-customer bond— rewarding shoppers who buy healthy foods, for example, with points, gift cards or other incentives.
Sounds like a daunting task for a retailer, but it’s one that all retail channels should think about.
Retailer advocacy for customers was discussed during the webinar “Top Food Trends for 2016.” Sponsored by The Food Institute and BMO Harris, the session was comoderated by Phil Lempert, known as the “SupermarketGuru,” and The Food Institute CEO Brian Todd.
In addition to citing consumers’ thirst for additional product information along with coming to grips that the “retail world is in flux,” Lempert said advocacy might be the new loyalty. In that spirit, “focus beyond relationships and think beyond loyalty to advocacy,” he said.
Your consumers are already vigilant when it comes to the food selection process—like vetting a political candidate. They abide by concepts of “free from” and “less is more,” the latter meaning products with five or fewer ingredients and no artificial ingredients. Foods labeled with health attributes saw sales increase 13%, said Lempert, citing the National Grocers Association-SupermarketGuru 2015 survey.
The broad picture: A new way of eating will be defined by new proteins, algae, insects, vegetable, yeast, cricket flour and nut powders. Rewarding your customers for participating in the trend could incentivize those higher-margin items, and earn you goodwill and higher sales in the process.
Consumers Tell AllFebruary 25, 2016
Guess what customers are saying about your stores? Some of the answers surprised even us
By Abbey Lewis, Editor in Chief, Convenience Store Products , Feb. 2, 2016
Illustration by Jean Jullien
From behind the two-way mirror, we exchanged glances—we were perplexed, surprised, amazed. A colleague and I sat with our notebooks in the dark, prepared to hear a lot of things we already knew: Customers like variety, fresh food, clean bathrooms, etc. But when our two focus groups arrived at Product Evaluations Inc.’s offices in Oak Brook, Ill., we heard a lot of things we weren’t expecting. Did you know they don’t consider convenience stores and gas stations to be the same thing?
Product Evaluations, a foodservice market research company, usually focuses only on food. Its expertise is on your roller grill or coffee bar. But for us the company bent the rules, focusing the line of questioning on the forecourt, backcourt and new products—and, of course, foodservice.
When we began developing the questions, we realized this could be a unique opportunity to truly discern between millennial customers and all the others. So we broke them into two groups. The first group was made up mostly of Gen X shoppers, with some baby boomers. The second group was composed entirely of millennial customers.
It’s worth mentioning all panel participants are from the Chicago area, which is flush with 7-Eleven, Speedway, BP, Thorntons and independent locations. None of our participants had even heard of Wawa, much less Rutter’s, Kwik Trip or Stripes. (Maybe next year we’ll conduct a panel from Florida and see what they think …)
Read on to see the differences and surprising similarities among respondents—as well as actionable tips based on their feedback. And keep an eye out at CStoreProductsOnline.com to read some of the outtakes.
> Consumer Loyalty Programs <
Q: What makes you loyal to a particular convenience store?
Liz (Household income <$25,000): I look for a rewards program. I have one that’s an app on your phone and you can get free coffees and different free things. … I know if I get something, I’m going to get something free next time. It’s easier on my wallet. 7-Eleven had free coffee for the entire week recently, so I was there a lot. I went out of my way to get to that.
Q: Who has used rewards cards? Does it make you more loyal to those brands?
Mary ($75,000-$99,999): Yeah, at Speedway if you say you don’t have [your card], half the time they’ll just scan a new one for you. They pass them out like candy.
Tom ($100,000 or more): Yeah, they have bonus points that you buy like, say you buy a Red Bull, you get a hundred more extra points or something like that [at Speedway].
David ($100,000 or more): You buy three pieces of pizza instead of two, you get a bunch of extra points …
Convenience Store Products: So do they “get you” on that?
David: Oh yeah, I’m a sucker for that.
Liz: When I go to get scratch-offs, I always go to the CITGO in Glenwood, Ill., because they have all the machines right next to each other. They also have an area where you can sit down and scratch them off. It’s much better than other places.
Q: What are you purchasing when you go to the convenience store?
Lorraine ($25,000-$39,000): When I go to a c-store … I might get some feminine products. I don’t want to necessarily go through the hassle of going to Wal-Mart, standing in line, going to search for it. The convenience store has got your drinks over here, you got your other stuff over here, you go, “OK, let me just grab it real quick and go.” The big stores, you have to deal with people, the crowd, and you got to really search. You ain’t got time for that.
Catherine ($100,000 or more): I usually just go there for drinks, like AriZona tea, or just a bag of chips and then go.
David ($100,000 or more): Beer, lottery tickets, scratch-offs—that’s probably it for that.
Mobile payment, souped-up loyalty programs, at-pump ordering, connected cooking equipment and more can greatly affect your foodservice program. According to an NCR study from earlier this year, 67% of restaurant owners and managers said that technology has a direct effect on increased revenue, and 35% are more dependent on tech tools than they were a year ago. Just remember to do your due diligence. Don’t invest in something your customers won’t use.
> New-Product Strategy <
Q: How often do you go into the convenience store vs. just staying out at the pumps for gas?
Liz (Household income <$25,000): Most of the time I go inside.
Peter ($25,000-$39,000): I always go inside. When I’m not getting gas at Costco because it’s cheaper, whenever I stop at one of those stations, I always go inside. If I stop at one of those stations to get gas, it’s because I’m almost empty.
Jane ($40,000-$74,999): If I’m at the pump, and it’s at a convenience store, I always go in. Not that I need to go in. I don’t know why. I want to look at something. And I don’t pay at the pump.
Anne ($40,000-$74,999): Even with your credit card. Just go in. You just got to go in.
Convenience Store Products: You say you don’t ever pay at the pump?
Peter: I don’t because of security reasons. … I’ve heard so many things. I always go inside and pay, even if I want to swipe my card—I just don’t swipe it at the pump.
The amount of gas customers who also go inside the store —2015 NACS Consumer Fuels Survey
Q: What piques your interest when you walk in a store? What will catch your eye?
Peter: Sometimes a display. What’s in front of your face—sometimes it’s a new product.
Anne: You know when you were a kid in a candy store, you see something at that display and you think, “Let’s go check that out.”
Peter: New Gatorade just came out. New flavors. Oh, that looks good. I’ll just take it.
Q: What makes convenience stores unique from other kinds of stores?
Catherine ($100,000 or more): No lines.
David ($100,000 or more): In and out—it’s quick.
Lorraine ($25,000-$39,000): Everything is conveniently placed, so it’s not a whole search through a maze. Most of the aisles are open, so that when you’re walking through diagonally, you can see most of the things as you’re going. The setup is more open than a regular store.
Tom ($100,000 or more): Everything is accessible—easy to find.
“I’ll be out at lunch, and I don’t want to be at work, so I’ll find the gas station, go in there, look around, take my time, find something to snack on, then go back to work.” —Liz (<$25,000)
New products matter! Work on developing your new-product strategy, but first strengthen Your core offer. Implement the proper analytics to measure your core products before investing in too many new-product tests. Of course, consistency could be the key—your customers are coming to you to find new products and will go to the same area or merchandiser to find them each time. Develop a plan and stick to it.
> Store Atmosphere <
Q: How do you choose one store over the other?
Amanda (Household income $40,000-$74,999): I judge it on the size of the gas station. If I’m driving around or on a road trip, I’m going to hit the gas station that’s the biggest if I’m looking for snacks. I’m not going to go into, like, a little square shop …
Convenience Store Products: Why wouldn’t you go into the little place?
Amanda: Because then I feel like there’s less selection. If I’m going there specifically for food or whatever, I’m going to look for the biggest one. Even for a bathroom, I look for the biggest one because it means it won’t be outside.
Q: What do you buy at convenience stores?
Jenna: I remember when those Cheetos things came out, with all like the weird balls and everything, and I was like, oh my God, that’s going to be amazing. I was looking for them and I figured the gas stations would have it, so that’s when I was just knocking down the door. I finally found them.
The amount of convenience stores (127,588 total) that sell motor fuels —NACSonline.com
Q: What does the size of the store mean to you?
Peter ($25,000-$39,000): The small ones—it’s too cramped in there. There’s too many people in there. And it’s not just the inside, but the outside also. When you’re pulling up to this huge place, where there’s 10, 12 pumps and a big parking lot … with good lights.
Jane ($40,000-$74,999): Yes, you want the good lighting. It would be a safety issue.
Jack ($100,000 or more): A cramped place doesn’t feel as safe.
Jane: I will bypass those [small stores]. I’ll go to a bigger one. I would definitely go there before I’d go to a smaller one—it’s just safer.
Patty ($40,000-$74,999): What they need is oatmeal. Everyone else has oatmeal. I want oatmeal. It would be perfect for a convenience store—definitely.
Surprisingly, both demographics differentiated between “gas stations” and “convenience stores.” To explain, Liz said, “I feel like the size is what distinguishes it. If it’s a really small building, then we feel like it’s just a gas station, nothing special. If it’s a bigger-size building and there’s more square footage, then it’s more of a convenience store.” Installing brighter lights and decluttering could go a long way toward attracting that new customer, boomers and millennials alike.
> Foodservice <
Q: What’s your favorite food to buy at convenience stores?
Lorraine (Household income $25,000-$39,000): Pizza. You’re not expecting to get a supreme pizza—like, it’s going to be your most basic pepperoni, sausage or cheese.
David ($100,000 or more): I’m one of the least pickiest eaters out there, so it’s like I’ll get a Speedy Dog, and just load it up with all the ingredients, and I’ll go to town and I will love it. I’ll get their pizza and I’ll love it. That’s just me.
3 in 4
The number of shoppers who say it’s important to feel good about the foods and beverages they consume —Technomic’s Consumer Trend Report
Q: Which foods belong in convenience stores, and which do not?
Convenience Store Products: OK, so you’ve indicated that these items don’t fit at all: deli salads; chicken, either fried, roasted or grilled; soup, chili, dispensed ice cream or frozen yogurt.
Jenna (<$25,000): Where are you cooking the chicken?
Convenience Store Products: What about ice cream, soup or chili?
Amanda ($40,000-$74,999): I haven’t seen those.
David: Yeah, me neither.
Catherine ($100,000 or more): I think it’d be hard to keep the frozen-yogurt machine clean, but I’d totally get it.
Q: How have your perceptions of convenience-store food changed?
David: Before, I always just assumed that it wasn’t good, that it wouldn’t taste good—I don’t know. … Once it became convenient to where I was working, and it was easy, convenient to get food there, I tried it. I said, “What the heck? Let’s do it.” And it tastes good. Let’s do it again.
Amanda ($40,000-$74,999): I feel exactly the same. I always thought it was just disgusting, and people might sneeze on it or something, but then it’s like, my guy would have me go pick up a pizza or something. Okay. And then I’m like, “Oh, it’s not that bad.” Then I ended up getting a few things for myself after that.
Tom ($100,000 or more): I felt like coffee was really bad at convenience stores, but I actually found out that at 7-Eleven, their coffee is much better than I thought.
“A large Slurpee from 7-Eleven—at 2 a.m., every time I was studying … we’d all go. It was awesome. And they go great with those little taquito things.” —Jenna
These customers have changed their view of the food in your stores. Believe it or not, as much as perception of c-store fare has improved, there are still opportunities to be had. And freshness is the key. According to Technomic, 76% of consumers say positive terms such as “natural flavors” are perceived as resulting in enhanced flavors. And shoppers are demanding more transparency in their food. Non-GMO-fed, verified fresh eggs, chicken, pork and even sausages from brands such as Fork in the Road will be worth watching. Try it. They might like it!