Many challenges come with working in the convenience store industry, among them a lack of time, a shortage of space and ensuring the store has the correct inventory.
Order replenishment is one of the most challenging undertakings at c-stores, with managers needing to tread a fine line between ensuring out-of-stocks are minimized, while at the same time keeping inventory low to keep a cap on both expenditures and product taking up valuable space.
Robert Perkins, spokesperson for Rutter’s Farm Stores in York, Pa., says “using sales history, days-of-supply and just-in-time deliveries make ordering much more concise and accurate.” He says Rutter’s stores also work closely with their supplier Core-Mark to ensure products are in stock and stores receive the correct orders.
And it’s not just the ordering process that can be daunting. The assortment of products a store carries is essential. Top selling products should be always available in every category and correctly placed in the store. Additionally, promotional items must be highly visible and timely, bringing savings to the customer and a sales boost to the store.
How technology can help
These days, technology rules many parts of our lives, and it’s no different within c-stores. Data from sales can inform what types of products are selling best, and many retailers use apps and other technology to help run their stores at maximum functionality and eliminate or mitigate challenges.
For instance, there are apps designed to help c-stores with ordering, such as Core-Mark’s DroidPAD (for the Android platform) and OrderPRO (for iOS), which launched last year. These were designed with the goal of helping alleviate challenges surrounding stock and product assortment. And this may be cutting edge technology, but it’s constantly evolving as technology develops, and both apps are compatible for upgrades.
These apps make shelf replenishment easy and more accurate. They identify unique product groupings, often using hashtags—product groupings include better-for-you products, top sellers (the top 350 items every c-store should carry) and more. Retailers can also filter items down by category for additional accuracy.
“We work with Core-Mark to develop a ‘Must Not Run Out’ list of top sellers and must-have [items] at the store level,” Perkins says.
Specialized app features help solve c-store difficulties
Specialized features that are designed to help with retailer challenges work with planograms to order either a full inventory or just key missing items. With one click, retailers can have a birds-eye view of all their products and see what needs replenishing. Some apps also use algorithms that pull national data to identify best-selling items, which retailers can use to replenish and update their stocks from.
The final piece of the c-store ordering puzzle is delivery check-ins, a labor-intensive and time consuming activity. Technology can cut this time in half. Instead of checking deliveries manually, retailers can use an app’s feature on their personal device to scan products or case labels, which rapidly reconciles the invoice and tells them of any variances. This is more accurate than reconciling with a pen and paper, too.
“Core-Mark has provided efficiencies for my business that didn’t exist before,” says Dave Narga of Muzzy Oil, a c-store in Oldtown, Idaho.
C-store challenges aren’t unlike challenges at other retail locations, but with specific, targeted technology to mitigate and help ease those challenges, retailers can save time and boost customer satisfaction.
“It’s important that stores are in stock with what consumers need,” says Sandra D’Asaro, Vice President, Sales Development, Analytics and Technology with Core-Mark. “It’s essential to manage the inventory appropriately. It’s a delicate balance of having the right amount of product and making sure you’re not out of stock while also not loading up your shelves and tying up precious cash flow.”
This post is sponsored by Core-Mark