The city’s board of supervisors approved the legislation unanimously. The ban will take effect in April 2018.
June 23, 2017
SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a bill that forbids the sale of flavored tobacco products in retail stores, the San Francisco Examiner reports. The ban encompasses flavored chewing tobacco, flavored liquids containing nicotine for e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes.
“We want to enhance our prevention strategies,” Supervisor Maila Cohen, who introduced the legislation, said. “The goal of this ordinance is to keep people from smoking in the first place.
The ban, which will go into effect April 2018, will impact more than 700 local retailers, mostly convenience stores and gas stations, that sell tobacco products. To counter the lost revenue, Cohen supports more city funding under the Healthy Food Retail program to assist small stores during the transition.
The California Retailers Association opposed the ban because it failed to take into consideration how it would affect businesses and the decrease in the amount of sales tax the city collects. “This ordinance also ignores the fact that there are comprehensive state and local laws, that anti-tobacco advocates support as a means to curb youth access to tobacco, that are currently enforced,” wrote Angie Manetti, director of government relations for the association in a June 8 letter to the board.
The ordinance would not prohibit the use of flavored tobacco in the city. The City Controller’s Office of Economic Analysis estimated that 35% of cigarettes sold in the city are menthols, which will translate into lost sales of around $50 million yearly.
The Minneapolis City Council is also considering a ban on the sale of menthol cigarettes, having already prohibited the same of flavored tobacco products two years ago.
Over the past few years, many merchants – regardless of what kind of businesses they operate or how big their companies are – have come to reconsider their previous ways of handling purchases. Many decided to buy point-of-sale devices for the first time, while others were led to think about the ways modern payment technologies may be able to help their businesses take a big leap forward when it comes to security and customer engagement.
To that end, it’s worth thinking about the most common reasons businesses – and smaller ones in particular – may want to adopt or change their POS options these days, as a means of keeping up with changing preferences and security standards. The better they can keep up with industry-recommended best practices for point of sale security and adoption, the better off they’re likely to be going forward.
1) Staying on Top of the Latest Trends
While many managers have at least thought about making the switch to a point-of-sale device that can handle EMV or mobile purchases, some may still be on the fence, according to Digital Transactions. But the fact is, these new purchase types are the way the whole payments ecosystem is now heading, and merchants may need to consider such a move for themselves.
The vast majority of businesses nationwide now accept EMV, and most consumers also have at least one EMV card in their wallets these days. As a consequence, simply having the ability to accept such transactions can be a boon for any business, in addition to providing themselves and their customers with greater security.
2) Navigating Affordability
Many businesses may shy away from payment card processing of all kinds simply because of the cost involved, according to Shopify. For this reason, it may be wise for companies to look at their options for finding POS resellers who can meet their needs both in terms of technology and ongoing costs. This is especially true for first-timers who may not have as much operational knowledge when it comes to dealing with these issues.
In general, when resellers can explain what they do for merchants – and why it costs what it does – in plain language, that can provide a big boost for those getting on board with modern payment processing.
3) They Want to Branch Out
For many smaller businesses that want to find a new revenue stream, the ease of modern e-commerce provides a crucial option, according to Business News Daily. The good news is that modern POS can meet both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar needs for just about any business, and all it may take is working with a reseller to determine the best path forward. Having the ability to handle both real-world and online transactions through the same POS can go a long way for any small business.
4) Getting Better Data
Another key benefit of modern POS is that it comes with more tertiary features than ever before, which give merchants the power to collect and harness more information than ever from a single source, Business News Daily added. Now, POS platforms collect all kinds of data on every transaction to help merchants identify areas where they can potentially improve their operations, from managing the supply chain to better catering to evolving consumer preferences in real time. That kind of knowledge can really empower better decision-making for years to come.
5) Saving Time and Impressing Customers Simultaneously
Another big innovation in point-of-sale technology in the past few years has come for restaurants specifically, according to PointofSale.com. Tableside POS devices are all the rage among chain restaurants, which favor the devices for their ease of use and help in increasing the efficiency of any operation. Now, smaller restaurants are taking the same step because of both that ease of efficiency and people are coming to expect this kind of ease in ordering.
6) Keeping Up with Consumer Expectations
Indeed, the idea that larger merchants are taking steps to innovate on POS – often because they have the budget to do so somewhat freely – is something that should give reluctant small business owners pause, according to Payments Source. As consumers become more accustomed to ubiquitous next-generation POS technology at the big stores where they shop frequently, it’s vital for smaller competitors to do what they can to keep up. After all, if consumers already expect to be able to pay with EMV – which is a technology that’s still relatively new to them – just about anywhere, the need to keep up with those trends quickly becomes self-evident.
7) Being Ready for What Comes Next
Upgrading to modern POS isn’t just a good idea for the present, but also for the future, according to Silicon NYC. Having the ability to upgrade now allows merchants to familiarize themselves with the latest and greatest options in payment processing before the next generation of options arrives. “Skipping” a generation isn’t likely to be a wise move, because merchants could find themselves in the dark about where they should turn, and how best to take that next step.
Focusing on smaller steps to meet ever-evolving needs will be crucial for any merchant as they try to navigate the POS environment today. After all, if the goal is to simultaneously make owners’ lives easier and provide more options for their customers, the wide variety of options now available is just waiting to meet those needs.
Article from Sterling Payment Technologies June 2017 Newsletter “The Edge”
The state Department of Agriculture is working on a program to train convenience store personnel on how to spot skimmers at gas pumps.
June 9, 2017
RALEIGH, N.C. – Skimmers at the gas pump is a problem that isn’t going away, and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture is taking steps to ensure those devices are spotted quickly and removed, WNCN-TV reports. Recently, one North Carolina gas station discovered skimmers installed at the pump four different times in one month.
During its routine inspections of gas pumps, the agency looks for skimmers as part of its checklist. “[Skimming] certainly is a growing problem,” said Stephen Benjamin, director of the N.C. Agriculture Department Standards Division. “It’s a routine part of our inspections now to look for those skimmers.”
But with those inspections only happening annually, the department decided to ramp up efforts to combat skimming in other ways. To do that, the agency has been developing a training program for convenience store employees on how to spot skimmers or suspicious activity around the gas pump. The program will have online photos and reference material for gas station workers.
Obvious signs of tampering include broken security tape or ill-fitting card readers. Benjamin said the training program will teach some of the basic security measures employees can take to combat skimming.
“If they walk around [the pumps] a couple of times a day and inspect [them], that’s an opportunity to take a glance,” and ensure the pumps haven’t been tampered with, he said.
From new Starburst and Snickers to M&M’s and Skittles, iconic candies are getting flavor extensions.
May 24, 2017
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
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Last week we attended “The Really Big Expo” in Myrtle Beach, SC where there was much discussion about the growing and changing food service options in C-Stores. We attended NACS “Ideas 2 Go” program discussion which showcased emerging concepts that redefine convenience stores. Another huge topic of conversation is how the millennials are changing the way people eat and shop. Gone are the days of a dried hot dog spinning on a warmer as your only option. C-Stores are ‘destination spots’ – not just a place to fill your tank. Bigger selections and healthier options are becoming the norm.
If you’ve seen the 2013 NACS Ideas 2 Go program, then you’ll recognize many of the retailers the NY Times visited: Thai Pan, Flory’s and Seoul Food D.C. Each establishment was part of a segment on some of the best gourmet ethnic food found at a single-store operation, and the retailers behind these businesses that deliver exceptional food and innovative new ideas.
“Encouraged by the changing tastes of consumers and the potential for profit, a metamorphosis has taken place in at least 1,500 locations nationwide: at independent gas stations as well as those owned by oil giants like Shell and Exxon and convenience store chains like 7-Eleven,” writes the NY Times, adding that “fresh produce, elaborate sandwiches and even grilled tilapia and Korean bibimbap” are becoming more ubiquitous at the local convenience store.
These locations “are now cool to discover and tell others about,” Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president for strategic initiatives, told the news source. In fact, the industry has come a long way from food offers that merely served up punchlines for movies such as “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” where Chevy Chase laments, “I’m so hungry I could eat a sandwich from a gas station.”
“We definitely see, year after year, convenience stores presenting a competitive threat to quick-service outlets like McDonald’s,” Donna Hood Crecca, associate principal at Technomic, told the news source. Citing NACS State of the Industry data (newly released numbers will be presented next month at the State of the Industry Summit), in 2015, about 34% of in-store profits at convenience stores came from foodservice, up from 22% in 2010.
Larger convenience store chains, such as Sheetz, are adding drive-thrus and touchscreen ordering kiosks to accommodate their growing foodservice operations. The NY Times writes that there’s also “an increasing number of roving food trucks” at c-stores, such as Andrae’s Kitchen, in Walla Walla, Washington (hot dogs, hamburgers and sandwiches), and the Brew Pump, in Asheville, North Carolina (eight beers on tap, beer garden and sandwiches).
“Food industry analysts now consider convenience markets competition for some of the most powerful names in the restaurant industry,” writes the NY Times, adding that an estimated 10% of the 154,000-plus convenience stores across the country—a $575 billion industry—“could be described as food-forward.”
LEESBURG, Va. — Last summer, when two women were looking for a restaurant space in this Northern Virginia town of 48,000, one of the options held multiple enticements: It was affordable, it had a good location, the kitchen was fit for Asian cooking and it was in a gas station.
They signed on the dotted line and retained the name of the previous business, Thai Pan. Now, while the brick exterior is connected to a Liberty gas station and resembles a well-fortified bunker, the authentic Thai fare served in a charming dining room is drawing locals and adventuresome foodies from throughout the region.
“People come in here and say, ‘Wow, I never expected something like this,’” said Wilaivan Kammoongkun, one of the women behind the new Thai Pan.
The restaurant is part of a wave of gas stations and convenience stores capitalizing on a growing demand for fresh, healthful and convenient road food. Encouraged by the changing tastes of consumers and the potential for profit, a metamorphosis has taken place in at least 1,500 locations nationwide: at independent gas stations as well as those owned by oil giants like Shell and Exxon and convenience store chains like 7-Eleven.
As a result, roller-grilled hot dogs and little packaged cakes of indefinite shelf life are, in many places, giving way to fresh produce, elaborate sandwiches and even grilled tilapia and Korean bibimbap. Popular food trucks and food carts are adding to the variety, many setting up shop just feet from gas pumps to take advantage of a steady stream of customers.
The locations “are now cool to discover and tell others about,” said Jeff Lenard, vice president for strategic initiatives at the National Association of Convenience Stores.
It certainly hasn’t always been this way. In fact, convenience store food regularly stood in as a joke. In the 1983 film “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” a hapless dad behind the wheel of a station wagon, played by Chevy Chase, laments, “I’m so hungry I could eat a sandwich from a gas station.”
Major oil companies still tend to shy away from the complicated and risky food business. But in the early 2000s, when a long-term decline in revenue from food, gas, cigarettes and other products approached troublesome levels, many gas station and convenience store owners started to rethink their business models.
Now, an estimated 10 percent of the 154,000 convenience stores across the country — a $31 billion industry — could be described as food-forward, the National Association of Convenience Stores says.
The largest chain, 7-Eleven, with 10,900 stores in North America, has been polishing its game for more than a decade. Nearly all of its fresh food, heavy on fruits and vegetables, is prepared in regional commissaries.
The service station strategy appears to be working: In 2015, about 34 percent of in-store profits at convenience markets came from food and beverage service, up from 22 percent in 2010, according to the trade organization. Food industry analysts now consider convenience markets competition for some of the most powerful names in the restaurant industry.
“We definitely see, year after year, convenience stores presenting a competitive threat to quick-service outlets like McDonald’s,” said Donna Hood Crecca, associate principal at Technomic, a research company that follows the food industry.
Upgraded convenience stores are found across the country, especially on the East Coast and in the Midwest. Greater Dallas and the area around Harrisburg, Pa., are two hubs. The Tigris and Euphrates of the genre, though, might be the region in and around Washington. Here, one can feast on a variety of treats, including house-cured corned beef, Thai specialties, regional Mexican fare, homemade pizza, fried chicken and barbecue.
In 2012, Jon Rossler had the opportunity to permanently park a corned beef food truck at an Exxon station in Olney, Md., north of Washington.
The following year he moved inside, opening a spiffy 20-seat restaurant with faux brick walls, granite counters and large computer screen menus. Today, Corned Beef King goes through 150 pounds of corned beef and pastrami weekly, and 100 pounds of brisket. The business started with two employees; today there are 16.
“It’s wild,” Mr. Rossler said. “I think I may have gotten too big.”
Occupying part of an Exxon station in suburban Silver Spring, Md., is Seoul Food D.C., a cheerful, three-year-old art-festooned cafe serving gorgeous Korean dishes like bibimbap (sticky rice with vegetables, greens, a sunny-side-up egg and choice of protein) and the super bowl (rice, caramelized kimchi, spicy relish, two cheeses and Korean red sauce).
The experimentation also extends to the Hudson Valley town of Fishkill, N.Y., and the family enterprise Flory’s, which has four locations.
At first glance, especially at night, one of its stores — sleek and modern and large at 1,900 square feet — resembles a small casino with 14 gas pumps.
All food is made in-house: sandwiches, salads, soups and prepared meals. There is also a healthy fare section and make-your-own-milkshake machines. Two cooks toil in a small open kitchen preparing specialties like chili, lasagna, quesadillas, fried chicken and stuffed sole. Breakfast begins — with 16 types of coffee — at 4 a.m.
Jamy Flory, a co-owner and vice president of the enterprise, said the concept had succeeded beyond his most sanguine expectations. When he first opened, he said, the meat and cheese purveyor Boar’s Head was reluctant to be associated with a gas station. Flory’s is now a regular customer.
“We were apprehensive about doing this because we were not sure about customers wanting to eat in a convenience store,” Mr. Flory said.
Taking cues from fast-food restaurants, many convenience stores are also providing drive-through windows and ordering kiosks. Sheetz, a chain of 541 gas stations based in Pennsylvania, has a store near Harrisburg that welcomes customers to relax outside at umbrella-shaded tables that afford the exhilarating view of automobiles being topped off.
There is also an increasing number of roving food trucks at service stations, among them Andrae’s Kitchen, in Walla Walla, Wash., (hot dogs, hamburgers and sandwiches), and the Brew Pump, in Asheville, N.C. (eight beers on tap, beer garden and sandwiches).
“We want to be about good food but also about some fun,” said Mr. Flory, proudly showing a customer his arctic-themed “beer cave” with a giant simulated polar bear on top. (It’s where beer inventory is kept.) “People get a kick out of it, so why not?”
Since the October 2015 liability shift, EMV remains frustrating for retailers and confusing for consumers—not a good proposition leading up to the next liability shift in October 2017.
October 3, 2016
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – One year after the October 2015 liability shift took effect for retailers to accept Europay MasterCard Visa (EMV) chip cards inside the store, thousands of chip readers have yet to be activated. To make matters more frustrating, the next liability shift—for fuels dispensers—is one year away.
Convenience retailer investments in EMV are not preventing fraud because chip cards in the U.S. are not enabled for PIN authentication, which is the most effective way to combat fraud, ensuring the customer using the card is the owner of that card. In the United States, the convenience store industry processes 160 million transactions each day and invests billions to reduce fraud at the point of sale. For example, many retailers pay to use customers’ ZIP codes to verify a transaction to protect their customers and their business. Retailers have real incentives to eliminate payment card fraud because they, according to the Kansas City Federal Reserve, absorb 80% to 90% of all fraud losses on credit and debit card transactions.
Convenience retailers will spend more than $7 billion on EMV—or just under 70% of industry pre-tax income for 2015—to upgrade and replace software and equipment to accept chip cards, but the card companies prevent retailers from requiring the use of PINs to verify the cardholder and protect against fraud. Without the protection of a PIN number on transactions, consumers and retailers are vulnerable to fraud.
Leading up to the October 2015 deadline, the card networks were late providing the necessary software specifications to accept EMV transactions. Retailers then needed certification from each card network before they could activate EMV. There were bottlenecks for both, compounded by the fact that the card networks set a liability shift timeframe without regard to the ability of equipment manufacturers and software providers to actually meet the deadline—a problem that will undoubtedly turn out to be even worse at fuel dispensers.
Nearly a year ago, NACS Board member Jared Scheeler, managing director of The Hub Convenience Stores Inc., testified before Congress that his chain of four North Dakota convenience stores had spent roughly $134,500 to install POS and pump card readers that accept EMV chip transactions. At that time, NACS estimated that the average transition cost would be more than $26,000 per store, compared with an average profit of $47,000 per year.
Since the October 2015 EMV liability shift, many retailers have also been experiencing an outrageous increase in chargebacks, mostly erroneous. Counterfeit chargeback liability is unknown, and has not been divulged by Visa and MasterCard, despite industry efforts for clarification.
Last week the Merchant Advisory Group (MAG) sent a letter to Visa and MasterCard regarding ongoing challenges with the EMV transition for in-store deployments, and highlighted concerns regarding the feasibility of the payments industry being ready for the October 1, 2017, liability shift for fuel dispensers.
“Compounding the financial burden for small merchants is the liability shift already in place for in-store EMV transactions under which chargebacks have far exceeded expectations. And for larger retailers with many stores and multiple pumps at each location, the expense is staggering,” MAG wrote in the letter.
The NACS Show is just two weeks away, so if you want to learn everything you can about EMV, its hurdles and how to prepare for the next October 2017 liability shift, do not miss out on the education, guidance and discussions that will take place during the event.
Here’s how you can maximize your time at the NACS Show learning more about EMV:
Talk to NACS government relations staff and general counsel in the NACSPAC Lounge.
On Capitol Hill, most of the efforts have so far focused on the aftermath of a data breach and notification requirements. NACS is urging policymakers to consider not only what happens after a data breach occurs, but also how to prevent breaches and fraud from happening in the first place. Protecting against fraud should be a top priority for all forms of payment, including mobile payments, and the best way to authenticate transactions is through a PIN or more advanced means.
NACS is advocating that retailers should have the option to require PIN on credit and debit card transactions and those that occur on a mobile device—the same protection banks require at ATMs.
PIN is the most secure authentication technology currently available and can be implemented now. All EMV chip-card readers are PIN-enabled with encryption security. When PIN is required, whether a card number or the card itself is stolen, a PIN protects consumers against fraud.