“C” Is for Convenience & Compete
The definition of "convenience" isn’t the same as it was even just yesterday.
Today’s brick-and-mortar retailers are offering convenience across multiple platforms, including the ever-growing dollar store segment; smaller-format concepts like Walmart’s pilot of its version of a c-store; and technology-driven experiences like Amazon Go.
That’s why it’s fitting that the overarching theme of the 2018 NACS Show, being held Oct. 7-10 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, is "Compete." Through education and general sessions that address hot-button topics, to the latest industry insights and new solutions, the NACS Show aims to help c-store operators not only compete against everyone who is offering convenience today, but also compete for attention in the minds of shoppers.
"Getting and keeping attention is the single most important objective for businesses today, especially with disruption to existing business models that previously existed for years or even decades," Jeff Lenard, vice president of strategic industry initiatives, for NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, told Convenience Store News.
"When we compete as an industry, everyone grows and everyone profits. Competition also fuels continuous improvement in the convenience industry. It gives us the edge and fuels the momentum we need to continue to deliver on the convenience promise," he added.
Now in its 45th year, the 2018 NACS Show welcomes nearly 25,000 attendees who have access to an expo floor boasting 400,000 square feet, where they can find thousands of the newest products and services that c-stores sell and use every day, spanning six categories:
- Fuel equipment & services;
- Food equipment & foodservice programs;
- Facility development & store operations;
- Merchandise; and
Lenard noted that while there are always new products, services, ideas and connections to find at the show, there are several convenient ways for attendees to enhance their experience this year:
New Exhibitor Area: Featuring the more than 200 first-time exhibitors expected at this year’s show, the New Exhibitor Area is the perfect opportunity for retailers to "see it first and stock it first," according to Lenard. "This is a great opportunity to see emerging trends from companies that may not be regularly associated with our industry."
Cool New Products Preview Room: A show favorite for more than a decade, the Cool New Products Preview Room allows attendees to discover the latest, hottest and most cutting-edge products introduced in the past year. For this year’s show, NACS has enhanced the layout of the room, arranging it around the same six categories on the expo floor.
Cool New Ideas: Special presentations will be made every day that share learnings from retail leaders who walked the expo floor and are reporting back with insights about the trends and specific hot ideas they spotted.
Strategy & Execution
The 2018 NACS Show lineup also includes more than 60 education sessions that cover every aspect of the highly competitive, multibillion-dollar convenience store industry, such as foodservice, technology and leadership operations.
In addition, keynotes on this year’s agenda include presentations from marketing executive Bonin Bough; Un-Marketing President Scott Stratten; NACS President and CEO Henry Armour; and Mike Rowe, host of the hit television series "Dirty Jobs."
Whether it’s someone’s first NACS Show or their 20th, there is a lot to see and do during the event, not to mention after-hours networking.
Lenard has three solid pieces of advice for all attendees:
- Comfortable shoes are a must.
- Keep a phone charger handy.
- Plenty of business cards are useful.
Un-Marketing President Scott Stratten assists organizations in seeing their business through a new lens with his unconventional "un-marketing" views and a vanguard approach to building and maintaining real customer relationships. According to Stratten, how a c-store treats its customers is the only branding that matters. Named a top-five social media power influencer by Forbes.com, Stratten puts the focus on what matters most to current and potential buyers, including values, authenticity, relationships and service.
NACS President and CEO Henry Armour will talk about how retail disruption is giving new meaning and opportunities to how the industry delivers time and convenience. His presentation will be followed by the 2018 NACS Ideas 2 Go program, which annually showcases the best practices and emerging concepts that redefine convenience, and provides quick takeaways for retailers to implement at their own stores.
Executive producer and TV show host Mike Rowe will close out the 2018 NACS Show. Best known as the "dirtiest man on TV" from his hit series "Dirty Jobs," Rowe is also founder of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, dedicated to reinvigorating the skilled trades and advocating for closing the widening skills gap by addressing the aging workforce, high unemployment rate and the millions of unfilled jobs. Rowe can currently be found on Facebook’s groundbreaking series "Returning the Favor," where he searches for remarkable people making a difference in their communities, or on his podcast, "The Way I Heard It," a five-minute podcast for those with a curious mind but a short attention span.