At the root of Aramark’s small-format strategy is a store concept called Provisions on Demand, or P.O.D. “[The brand] was initially launched in 2008 and continues to be the primary identity of our convenience solutions,” says Mark Walker, associate vice president of convenience retailing for Aramark. Walker has spent almost two decades with the company, first focusing on specialty retail for Aramark’s higher education division before taking over the convenience-retailing side nearly two years ago.
“The name truly communicates our inherent brand promise as we provide consumers the products and services they desire in a quick, convenient manner,” Walker says.
Depending on the size and footprint, Aramark’s c-stores typically fall into one of two P.O.D. formats.
The P.O.D. Market is a full c-store solution that combines the functionality of a corner store with the style of a modern market. At least 1,000 square feet, the P.O.D. Market features grab-and-go dining options for breakfast, lunch and snacking occasions, including freshly prepared breakfast sandwiches, burritos, wraps, sushi and salads, as well as fresh produce, bakery and coffee selections, all rounded out by traditional c-store essentials.
P.O.D. Express, meanwhile, is a solution for places where space is limited or traffic counts are lower. These locations offer a variety of snacks, fresh food, hot and cold beverages and everyday c-store SKUs.
The stores are designed to give consumers an easy shopping experience, with open layouts that reflect a “less-is-more” merchandising strategy. Aramark uses materials that evoke a modern, fresh, clean feeling. Wood floors are accompanied by earthy green walls and ceilings, while simulated stone panels adorn the entrance and checkout area. Produce is presented in wooden merchandisers. The result is more hip market than sterile store.
Like the store’s logo itself, simple, descriptive signage throughout P.O.D. stores is presented in easy-to-read block capital letters. The beverage area sports Recharge signage with hot and cold designations as accents. The coffee bar offers McLane’s JCX coffee brand and the fountain features Coca-Cola products.
Fruits and vegetables are displayed under Fresh & Green and Au Natural signage, while frozen foods and beverages bear a Chillin’ sign. Snacks and candy are sold under the category’s flavor profiles of Sweet & Salty.
Pictured: P.O.D. Express is a scaled-down version of P.O.D. Market for places where space is limited.