Beverages

Category Managers From OnCue, MAPCO, Circle K Share Cold Vault Tips

Leaders share what their convenience stores are doing when it comes to shelving, technology, more
Cold Vault panel
Photograph by CSP Staff

While every convenience retailer’s cold vault and alcohol sections may look different, category managers can learn from each other to improve their sets.

At CSP’s Cold Vault Forum, held in May in Schaumburg, Illinois, three leaders shared their insights: Seth Carter, category manager, beer, wine and packaged beverages at OnCue, Stillwater, Oklahoma; Summer Daniels, category manager, packaged and alcoholic beverages, MAPCO, Franklin, Tennessee; and Gretchen Monroe, category manager, packaged beverages, southeast business unit, Circle K, Charlotte, North Carolina.

Here’s what these three category managers are doing in their stores.

  • Alimentation Couche-Tard, which owns Circle K, is No. 2 on CSP’s 2024 Top 40 Updateto the 2023 Top 202ranking of U.S. c-store chains by store count. Watch for the full 2024 Top 202 ranking in the June issue of CSP magazine and in CSP Daily News. Majors Management, which owns MAPCO, is No. 30

Making More Space

Monroe said Circle K is implementing the FlexRoller system in its cold vaults.

“It’s a heavy investment,” she said. “Total Circle K is doing that investment now. My [business unit] will probably be total FlexRoller by the end of July.”

The FlexRoller system has adjustable dividers, and lane widths can accommodate new packaging designs and resets to ensure consistent planogram compliance, FlexRoller maker Bruegmann said on its website.

The system allows a typical soda shelf to expand from nine drinks wide to 10, Monroe said. On children’s drink’s shelves, where the bottles are skinnier than adult drinks, the FlexRoller allows it to fit 11 or 12 drinks across.

“Our normal nine-door set gets an average of 30 more SKUs added,” she said.

 

More Cold Vault Forum Coverage:

Leaning Into Technology

OnCue is taking advantage of technologies like self-checkout machines and electronic shelf tags to better manage their employee’s time. The goal with adding these was to keep the amount of labor OnCue currently has, Carter said, but relieve store clerks of some of the more tedious tasks like counting product, printing new tags and adjusting the new tags—huge time commitments.

“With the immediate price-change capabilities of electronic tags, it’s taking a lot of those hours off their plate,” he said.

The self-checkouts allow customers to feel like their shopping experience is convenient and efficient, Carter said.

“Our hope with all of that was the clerks can spend more time doing the things that are required to run a good store nowadays: maintaining cleanliness,  spending time in the coolers… interacting with customers, rather than behind-the-scenes tedious tasks,” he said.

Creating Value

Consumers are looking at not only what beverages can do for them health-wise, but also how the beverage reflects them as a person, Daniels, of MAPCO, said.

“People are trying to shop that value, so they just don’t want a soda that’s just cherry flavored, is it going to make my brain work faster? Or [make] me lose weight more? All these different factors that you can pump into drinks, but also the social aspect,” she said.

Brands like Prime, a hydration drink from Logan Paul, and Liquid Death canned water are building lifestyles within these beverages, Daniels said, and consumers are considering, “What does that product mean to me as a person?”

Daniels said at a retailer she used to work for in Florida, she’d bring in products that showed how the retailer was helping the community, and brought in products that matched their outlook.

“Being on the beach, it was very important to us that we brought in products that kind of reflected that we want to keep our beach beautiful,” she said, adding that they’d look at products that supported Earth Day or helped with plastic pollution.

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