Convenience stores already know the importance of offering great coffee, but many now find pairing fresh, higher-quality baked goods drives traffic and sales even more.
“Many people prefer their favorite pre-packaged baked goods, which is great, but having fresh baked goods opens up a whole new buyer to the convenience store,” says Heather Garcia, co-owner of Chiriaco Summit Chevron in Chiriaco, Calif. For Garcia, “That buyer usually is not so much the commercial traveler or truck driver, but usually someone traveling for leisure or with family, and they might not be a regular convenience store customer, but they see the bakery case as a place to get something wholesome and fresh.”
Since introducing a fresh bakery case late last year, Garcia says she has already seen sales dramatically increase, not only for the new foodservice, but also for coffee and other beverages. Chiriaco offers fresh-brewed drip coffee as well as signature beverages through a self-service cappuccino machine.
As a supplier of fresh baked goods, bakery cases and related merchandising, “we are very conscious of helping c-stores lure that convenience customer who would stop to fuel up, but who wouldn’t normally make an in-store visit,” says Richard Hunt, Corporate Director of Fresh and Foodservice at Core-Mark. “The convenience industry has the ability to offer these products, so it’s really the operator’s commitment to offer a quality program to create more of a coffee experience, rather than a coffee destination alone.” “At Core-Mark, we realize that the cornerstone of a great Food Service program is anchored with Coffee, so we worked closely with our Coffee Supplier to create a program that connects with the wants and needs of today’s varied consumer” noted Hunt.
Here are some top considerations when implementing a fresh bakery program with a top-quality coffee offering.
Focus on the Physical Display
A clean, prominent and well-lit bakery case with bags or boxes for carry-out sets the fresh bakery program up for success, Hunt says. From there, it’s important to maintain a good variety of product to cater to different customers, and make sure the case stays well-stocked and all items have individual prices. “No one wants the last doughnut in the case,” he says.
Proximity to the coffee and prominent positioning in the store is also vital for boosting fresh bakery sales. Garcia has set her case near the checkout and at the end of the coffee island, so customers are tempted to grab a bakery item with their brew. With such great positioning, Garcia has found she needs little advertising elsewhere in the store, although suppliers like Core-Mark offer window clings, ceiling danglers, banners and other signage to support her programs.
Philip Dardaine is the owner of La Provence, a high-quality bakery in southern California. “We find that store operators dedicated to a quality offering and good pastry presentation are more likely to attract the coffee consumer who might otherwise travel to a local coffee shop or QSR after a fill-up.” Dardaine adds, “No matter the time of day, pastry is a natural accompaniment to a great cup of coffee”.
Consider Different Dayparts
While most baked goods sell best in the morning with hot coffee, other products can sell just as well in the afternoon when customers come in for a p.m. pick-me-up. For breakfast, in addition to the usual doughnuts, muffins and Danish, Garcia has surprisingly seen the apple fritters become her No. 1 seller, so she makes sure to have enough product and set at eye-level. Cinnamon rolls are a close second.
Just before the afternoon shift, staff re-stocks the case with cookies, cakes and brownies, completing one more rotation during the night shift. By tracking sales, she’s become a better purchaser—by the end of the day, Garcia has sold through her stash with little waste.
Don’t Deny Any Demographic
C-stores in specific markets fare best when they offer products catering to particular demographics. While research firm Technomic has said the majority of millennials and other younger consumers prefer a wide variety of fresh product in general, consider offering specific Hispanic products if many customers fall into that category.
Garcia offers a variety of such products from Core-Mark, including vanilla and chocolate conchas, which are large, shell-like cookies popular in Mexico as snacks that she positions just next to the self-service cappuccino machine. Other Latino products available for c-stores are galletas (smaller, biscuit-like cookies) and polvorones de canele, a classic cinnamon cookie, all of which are very popular with, and help create loyalty with the Hispanic consumer.
Hunt noted that Core-Mark has spent many hours with several of it’s Artisan quality Bakery suppliers tasting, and modifying product formulations to achieve great tasting products that perform well in a C-Store environment, offering the end consumer a high quality great tasting product just like they might expect in a Coffee house.
As with other types of fresh foodservice programs, pairing a fresh bakery program with delicious coffee can boost in-store sales, not only in the morning, but also during other dayparts and among different demographics—when executed right.
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