AWMA's New Data Forum a Hit With Distributors

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AWMA's New Data Forum a Hit With Distributors

Photo by Bob Gatty

CHICAGO -- More than 100 distributors, retailers and manufacturers received a first-hand look at the most up-to-date, comprehensive sales data for the convenience industry in four key categories, as well as insights into major trends affecting their businesses during the inaugural AWMA C-Metrics Convenience Industry Outlook Forum, held August 1 here.

Industry experts presented and analyzed data in the candy, cigarettes, other tobacco products (OTP) and salty/alternative snacks categories. Presenters included Steve Montgomery, president of b2b Solutions LLC; Greg Jones, consulting partner with b2b Solution; David Bishop, managing partner of Balvor LLC; and Don Longo, editor-in-chief of Convenience Store News.

The conference was sponsored by AWMA and InfoRhythm, a Pittsburgh, Pa.-based research firm which developed the AWMA InfoMetrics program, through which the data is provided. Presented and analyzed were actual 2012 sales by convenience industry distributors to 28,000 c-stores nationwide, and then projected to the full universe of 146,000 stores -- the most complete and current look at convenience industry business activity for this year, with projections through the end of 2012.

The InfoMetrics database is the single largest database of c-store shipments covering all SKUs except direct-store-delivery (DSD) products and beverages. Currently, 58 distributors with 92 warehouses shipping to 90,000 stores each week submit their detailed sales data to InfoRhythm, where it is compiled and analyzed.

"This was a very informative program. We received a lot of good numbers," commented Sherwin Herring, CEO of Southco Distributing Co., a distributor based in Goldsboro, N.C. "It was a terrific beginning and for the future, it would be great if we could cover even more categories. It certainly was well worth our investment of time and money to participate."

Joining Herring at the conference was April Garver, Southco's executive vice president, who said she found the information provided to be of real value, supplementing data provided in their company's recently concluded mid-year meetings with vendors.

A number of distributors invited retailer customers, and Jeff Williams, CEO of Western Oil-Petro Mart in Earth City, Mo., said the data revealed at the Forum and through the AWMA InfoMetrics and C-Metrics programs is an important tool in helping his company effectively manage product mix and inventory.

"Having this data and leveraging it will make us a better retailer, and that will make our wholesaler a better wholesaler. It is a win-win for both of us," added Butch Egan, Western Oil-Petro Mart's chief marketing officer who accompanied Williams to the Forum.

Some of the suppliers participating in the Forum included Altria Group Distribution Co., Cheyenne International, Commonwealth-Altadis Inc., General Mills Inc., Kellogg Co., Kraft Foods, NJOY, Perfetti Van Melle, Procter & Gamble Distributing, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Wrigley, a subsidiary of Mars Inc.

"We are delighted with the results of our first-ever Convenience Industry Outlook Forum," AWMA President and CEO Scott Ramminger said as the conference concluded. "We think our attendees received invaluable information that will help make them stronger, and a real insight into the value of our InfoMetrics program."

Ramminger said the Outlook Forum will be an annual event, and that next year's conference details will be announced as soon as they are finalized.