Technology/Services

C-StoreTEC Advisory Board Identifies 5 Areas of Focus

Committees will look at digital customer experience, data-driven engagement, information technology, foodservice enablement and creating a unified experience
C-StoreTEC Advisory Board
Photograph courtesy of W. Scott Mitchell

CSP’s C-StoreTEC initiative is “bigger than just one conference,” said Art Sebastian, CEO of NexChapter Inc. and chairman of the C-StoreTEC advisory board.

The takeaways and calls to action that the October conference will highlight will be an educational continuation of the board’s year-long research, discussions and resolution building. The board aims to improve industry standards, identify emerging trends and affect the industry’s focus on technology while developing roadmaps that address these needs.

“For me personally, and for TXB, I want to have influence on some of the decision-making for our industry and hopefully establish some key benchmarks and standards as it relates to loyalty and digital marketing in general,” said Ben Hoffmeyer, vice president of marketing and merchandising at Spicewood, Texas-based TXB. “I feel like our c-store industry doesn't have a lot of benchmarks and KPIs [key performance indicators] or processes that relate to digital marketing relative to other industries. I think being part of this board will not only help with that education journey, but also just help me professionally and smaller companies like TXB really get a seat at the table to make decisions that will impact all size chains and their digital journey.”

The board met before CSP’s Convenience Retailing University conference in February to discuss several broad challenges the convenience-store industry faces.

Board members were organized into five committees, each devoted to learning about, solving and, later on, educating attendees at the conference. The committees include:

  • Digital customer experience: a focus on app engagement, loyalty programs and websites.
  • Data-driven engagement: a focus on the growing amount/complexity/importance of customer data and digital marketing.
  • Information technology: a focus on all the core IT elements including but not limited to infrastructure, cyber security, and employee app experiences.
  • Foodservice enablement: a focus on kitchen technology to enable c-stores to compete with quick-service restaurants (QSRs), production planners, display systems, printers and more.
  • Unified experience: a focus on point-of-sale (POS) transactions (pump, in-store, app), ways to check out, delivery partners, curbside pickup and more.

“I’ve been realizing that consumers are used to a certain technology because restaurants are way more advanced than c-stores,” said Rachel Puepke, vice president of marketing and merchandising at CEFCO. “In order for us to be successful and competitive and not only drive quality of perception, because that's a big hurdle, the technology is also going to give a little bit more credibility in the space because that's what consumers are used to on the restaurant side. But c-stores don't necessarily think about that. It's really important for operators to take this seriously and really understand that there's technology needs and even technology that's outdated.”

Puepke, who is on the foodservice enablement committee, said that to sit in a room with retailers from chains bigger than CEFCO and hear that they had similar issues with technology was eye-opening. It’s a big opportunity, she said, to learn and educate others about the complexities of the tech world.

The C-StoreTEC Advisory Board is made up of a dynamic and experienced group of industry leaders and technology experts. The board will provide strategic guidance, insights and recommendations to tackle the biggest technology needs within the industry.

“In an era defined by technological evolution, the convenience retail industry stands at the cusp of unprecedented transformation,” said Sebastian. “As chairman, my vision is to harness the collective expertise of our esteemed board members to drive technological advancements that will not only meet but exceed the industry's evolving needs. Together, we aspire to redefine possibilities and inspire a wave of innovation that will propel convenience retail into a dynamic and prosperous future.”

The 20-member board is made up of retailers that specialize in not only information technology, but also talent acquisition, foodservice, loyalty, marketing, guest experience, merchandising, e-commerce, operational systems, advertising, fuels and more. Six of the retailers are from the top 20 of CSP’s Top 202 List and 10 are from chains in the top 140, representing a wide scale of sizes.

Three board members are from supplier and tech companies, adding an outside frame of reference.

“I'm really appreciative and thankful to have the opportunity to be able to learn in a safe environment,” Hoffmeyer said. “We had our first [committee] meeting yesterday and it was it was good to hear other people share some of the pain or frustrations they have in their own tech journeys and [know] you're not alone.”

The full list of appointed C-StoreTEC Advisory Board includes…

  1. Art Sebastian, CEO, NexChapter Inc.
  2. Kieran Carr, director of talent acquisition, EG America
  3. Richard Guidry, senior vice president of food service, GPM
  4. David Jackson, director of loyalty and digital marketing, Kwik Trip
  5. Jamie Miller, executive director of marketing, RaceTrac
  6. Lisa Ham, director of merchandising and space planning, Yesway
  7. Kristin Sword, manager of e-commerce and loyalty, Jacksons
  8. Justin Mitchell, vice president of information technology, Refuel
  9. Rachel Puepke, vice president of marketing and merchandising, CEFCO
  10. Fidaa Mohrez, director of operational systems, H&S
  11. Chris Hartman, vice president of advertising, fuels and development, Rutter’s
  12. Abigail Cerra, manager of loyalty and marketing, Chestnut Markets
  13. Scott Smith, senior director of information technology, Parker’s
  14. Nick Triantafellou, director of merchandising and marketing, Weigel’s
  15. Chris Thomsen, chief information officer, Dash In/The Wills Group
  16. Blackie Wills, president and CEO, Dash In/The Wills Group
  17. Ben Hoffmeyer, vice president of marketing and merchandising, TXB
  18. Jake Kiser, general manager, PAR Suzo
  19. Diana Luk, senior director, trade enablement, Altria

C-StoreTEC’s Advisory Board, year-round print and digital programs and its flagship conference will enable the industry to unlock immense growth potential, ensuring every operator can thrive in an increasingly tech-driven landscape while delivering exceptional customer experiences at every touchpoint.

Retailers looking for more information can contact Mitch Morrison, vice president of retailer relations, at mitch.morrison@informa.com. Technology solution providers looking for more information can contact Jeanie Hornung, vice president of enterprise sales, at jeanie.hornung@informa.com. Visit cstoreTEC.com for more information.

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