Lots of talk about the upcoming “Great American Total Solar Eclipse” on Monday August 21, 2017. People from Oregon to South Carolina are lining up and making plans to place themselves in the “path of totality” for the big event and are hopefully in for an unforgettable experience.
Space.com gives us this reminder: During totality, when the sun’s disk is completely covered by the moon, it is safe to view the eclipse with the naked eye. But sky watchers should NEVER look at a partial solar eclipse without proper eye protection. Looking directly at the sun, even when it is partially covered by the moon, can cause serious eye damage or blindness. See our complete guide to find out how to view the eclipse safely. – Please follow the rules and stay safe. Don’t let a few minutes of sun gazing ruin your life.
As people flock to the “path of totality” gasoline stations are seeing heavy volume as eclipse watchers are making their travel plans and lining up for their perfect spot in the path. NACS reports that some gasoline retailers had ordered 20% more fuel than for their usual busy holiday weekends while others that didn’t plan ahead are now seeing shortages.
For youngsters this may seem like a first time occurrence which would be far from true. The English word eclipsecomes from the Greek ἔκλειψις, ekleípō: disappearance, abandonment. A solar eclipse is the moment in which the sun disappears, abandoning the world. It’s like being forsaken by a god.
The ancient Greeks thought of a solar eclipse as an act of abandonment, a terrible crisis and an existential threat. It meant that the king would fall, that terrible misfortunes would rain down on the world, or that demons had swallowed the sun.
Yet not everyone thought of the eclipse as a horrible threat. For some cultures, the eclipse was an act of creation: The sun and moon were coupling, and would create more stars. For others, it was a random and chaotic act by a trickster or a mischievous boy, causing trouble just for the sake of it.
So wherever you are, seeing full or partial, sporting $.50 paper glasses or a cardboard box, be safe, have fun and listen to a little Eclipse by Pink Floyd while watching the slide show below!
Craft beer also offers great opportunities for c-stores to grow sales and be more local.
“There’s a lot of beer being sold these days and people want to drink what they know and really feel passionate about,” says Van Orden. This idea resonates with convenience retailers who are always looking for new ways to engage with their local communities.
As the C-Store offerings change and products are expanded, backOffice Software™ continues to be the perfect fit for your changing needs. Don’t let price changes bog you down. Our EDI Module makes receiving orders a breeze compared to the long hours of data entry of the past.
“IWSR data finds that global alcohol consumption is declining faster for beer than wine and spirits.” And for this reason, and more, you MUST have a reliable back office system!
NACS Online reports that Global Alcohol consumption is declining. Retailers must stay on top of their margins in order to be successful. Our backOffice™ Softwarewith EDI module allows retailers to easily adjust pricing and make the most profit on special quantity purchases. Read the entire article by clicking here, or simply see below. Cheers!
June 6, 2017
NEW YORK – The latest International Wine and Spirits Record (IWSR) data suggests that the consumption of alcoholic drinks is declining at an increasingly faster rate than has been previously reported.
For 2016, the IWSR reports that the global market for alcoholic drinks shrunk by 1.3%, compared with an average rate of just -0.3% in the previous five years. The reasons for the accelerated downward trend include a faster decline in beer, a reversal of trends for cider and slowing growth for mixed drinks.
Cider declined by 1.5% after years of solid growth. The markets responsible for this reversal of trends were South Africa, which saw decline following a period of growth, and especially the U.S., where volumes collapsed by 15.2% after years of double-digit growth.
The beer category was down 1.8% in 2016, compared with a five-year rate of -0.6%. The global trend reflects developments in three of beer’s largest markets: China, Brazil and Russia, which all saw steeper declines than in previous years, declining at -4.2%, -5.3% and -7.8%, respectively, in 2016.
Global spirits grew by 0.3%, according to IWSR data. Vodka is dragging down overall spirits performance, declining at 4.3% last year. Volumes were boosted by gin (+3.7%), tequila (+5.2%) and whisky (+1.7%).The negative trend in vodka is largely due to steep volume losses in Russia (-9.3%), which nevertheless remains vodka’s largest market by far. Key growth markets for total spirits last year were China, the U.S. and Mexico.
Wine was flat overall (-0.1%), with sparkling wine growing at 1.8% and still wine down by 0.5%. This is roughly in line with the trend of the previous five years.
NACS Online has this great article about the changing look of Gas Stations, aka C-Stores. As the look and operations change, Insight Retail Software and backOffice™ Software changes too. Our state of the art reporting keeps you informed of the health and operation of your business. Inventory Control, EDI, Group Price Changes are made simple with backOffice™. Scan Data services are an added bonus. Our customers love to log onto their Altria and RJ Reynolds account and see $$$$. Call to get your free money too.
Call Chris at: 518-633-4111 x 108
WHAT WILL TOMORROW’S GAS STATIONS LOOK LIKE?
Oil companies experiment with mobile apps, delivery and foodservice as analysts predict a future with declining demand for gasoline.Tags: Trends
May 26, 2017
IRVING, Texas – The world’s largest oil companies are tinkering with what makes a gas station, as mobile apps, fuel delivery, alternative fuels and foodservice become more prominent and consumers look for even more convenience, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Analysts like the firm Wood Mackenzie are forecasting softening demand for gasoline as electric cars become more popular and fuel efficiency improves. Automated cars and vehicle sharing also will likely impact the gasoline station industry.
Over the next year and a half, Royal Dutch Shell will play around with adapting fuel stations to provide hydrogen, electric chargers and liquefied natural gas alongside gasoline. BP already has 50 locations with electric chargers globally, while France’s Total SA will put in 300 charging stations throughout Europe and 400 hydrogen pumps in Germany by 2023. Exxon Mobile is working on a new gasoline aimed at more fuel-efficient cars.
While many of these companies jettisoned retail station ownership recently, now some of them are opening new gas stations or revamping current ones with an eye to the emerging alternative fuel markets. For example, BP will open 200 stations in Mexico and as many as 3,500 in India in the coming years. Many of its U.K. stations have Marks & Spencer food locations too. “Fifteen years ago it was just fuel,” said Alex Jensen, vice president for BP’s retail arm in Europe. Today, half of the company’s U.K. customers stop by for food, not fuel.
Shell has a mobile app that lets consumers pay for gas with their phone and might install lockers for online order pickup. The company is also considering a restaurant concept to bolster its convenience food. Shell also began a pilot fuel-delivery service in the Netherlands, where customers can request a Shell fill up delivered to wherever their car is parked, via a company-developed app.
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.