Following a successful first day of the C&I Expo, day two saw more than 700 attendees through the door, visiting more than 120 exhibitors.
The day kicked off with the C&I Retailers Breakfast which included presentations from Dion Taylor, owner of Last Stop Convenience; Bob Little, owner of SPAR Maclean; Eddy Nader, MD of Nader Petroleum Group and Urbanista; Kevin Azzopardi, business manager, UCB and eView Group’s Jim Findikakis.
Mr Taylor, who owns Last Stop Convenience in Bundaberg NSW, shared his seven tips for success, while SPAR Maclean’s Bob Little gave insight into the challenges he and his team faced transforming Australia’s longest running grocery store into a modern retail environment.
Taking a fresh approach
Eddy Nader, MD of the Nader Petroleum Group, spoke of his store concept, Urbanista, that flips the traditional convenience model on its head with fresh food and barista coffee.
“Retailers need to put pride in their offer and I think that’s where as an industry we’re lacking and we need to change. We need to start putting pride in our service stations and convenience stores,” Mr Nader said.
“[Urbanista Smeaton Grange] sells more than 250 coffees a day and we’re not cheap either. We’re the most expensive [in the area] but everyone still comes back for it.”
The final speaker of the C&I Retailers Breakfast, UCB’s Kevin Azzopardi looked at the perceptions of food within the convenience channel and the c-store’s changing role.
“As an industry we keep doing the same thing but customers are searching for better. Who knows what the industry will look like in 10 years, with technology changing at such a fast pace with things like electric cars and drone deliveries. Everything is at the customer’s fingertips and the need for convenience stores in 10 years time might be very different to what they are today,” Mr Azzopardi said.
Mr Azzopardi told delegates “food can’t be a cookie cutter approach” and retailers need to understand what it is each store’s market and demographic is after.
“We have to treat every store different,” he said.
“You have to understand what is it your customer wants. What is it that you want to go to market with? What do you want to be famous for? And more importantly, how do you get the back of house operating efficiently?
“Are all customers after fresh? What about [food] that’s indulgent, decadent…‘Instagrammable’ – are these types of things customers are also after? And why can’t food within P&C also be like this?
“We have proved as an industry that we can sell $1 coffees. But on the flip side, we’ve also proved as an industry that we can sell $4 doughnuts. What end of the value chain do you want be operating at? It’s all about the delivery, execution…and getting the whole offer correct.”
Future of convenience
Presenters at the Convention Sessions included Lou Jardin, MD of SPAR Australia; Gary Mortimer, Queensland University of Technology (QUT); Oliver Sargent, PwC and Jeff Griffiths, MD of Endeavour Petroleum.
“The convenience sector is a growing part of the market and it’s outstripping traditional grocery at the moment, so it’s certainly the place to be,” Mr Jardin said.
Gary Mortimer, Queensland University of Technology, said convenience and impulse retailers are well placed to differentiate themselves from the majors despite the supermarkets’ growing presence in the channel both locally and internationally.
“[The major supermarkets] will play in the space, but they won’t dominate. But [convenience retailers] can’t put their heads in the sand. We need to start thinking about how we can differentiate from the big guys,” Dr Mortimer said.
In addition to offering local ranges, services and fresh food, Dr Mortimer suggests retailers think about personalisation in creative ways.
“Prices doesn’t drive loyalty. Think about loyalty in your store but think about it in a creative way like near field communication and beacon technology.
“Customers also really enjoy taking control of the transactions – let them help themselves. In the US and UK there’s a lot of self service technology making its way into convenience stores. Get your staff out from behind the counters and get them engaging with customers as they walk through the door. Self service is the future of service.”