The Can-Do Attitude of Convenience
ATLANTA — From evolving store concepts and integration of the latest technology, to implementing fresh food programs and delivering memorable customer experiences, it’s hard to find something that the convenience and fuel retailing industry isn’t capable of. That’s why it is fitting that the overarching theme of the 2019 NACS Show will be “We Can.”
Meant to inspire, the theme will help tell the story of what c-stores can do together as an industry, according to Jeff Lenard, vice president of strategic industry initiatives for NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing.
“The NACS Show, the only global event for all things convenience, is the perfect venue to communicate the can-do attitude of our industry and what we can accomplish together, whether sharing ideas and learning from each other, communicating our voice to legislators and the media, or working with our supplier partners to continue to stay ahead of tomorrow’s competition,” he said. “We use the theme to tell different aspirational stories like, ‘We can make convenience the future,’ and ‘We can make convenience mean more.’ After all, our history — documented over the past 50 years in Convenience Store News — shows that we can accomplish great things together.”
Keeping the Offer Fresh
Now in its 46th year, the 2019 NACS Show will take place Oct. 1-4 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. The event will welcome nearly 25,000 attendees, who will have access to an expo floor boasting more than 420,000 square feet full of new products and services that range from start-ups to big brands. The expo floor will span six categories:
- Fuel equipment & services;
- Food equipment & foodservice programs;
- Facility development & store operations;
- Merchandise; and
This year’s show also will offer more than 50 education sessions developed by retailers based on what they want to learn the most, according to Lenard. A series of questions and “segments” have been developed to help guide attendees’ education-session selection based on topic. The segments are: Launchers, Experimenters, Transformers and Influencers.
Considering the challenges and opportunities the c-store and fuel retailing industry currently faces, the NACS Show wants to help attendees prepare for the present and future. Lenard cites two significant changes happening in the industry right now: disruption of traditional retail models — think frictionless payment and redefining points of contact with customers, especially through delivery — and the shift toward healthier fresh-food and beverage offerings.
A third trend that will be examined is cannabidiol, or CBD. The CBD product category is forecasted to be a $50-billion business within the next decade, but there is considerable confusion as to how federal and state regulation affects the sale of CBD products at c-stores. Two specialized education sessions will be held inside a new CBD Pavilion to help attendees understand the complex issue and what it could mean for their business.
Additionally, NACS will introduce two brand-new “super sessions,” which are a bridge between the expo’s smaller education sessions and its larger general sessions. Presenting nationally recognized speakers in a more intimate setting, the key difference between the super sessions and the general sessions is the content. A general session is meant to be inspirational, but not necessarily industry-specific, whereas super sessions are both.
This year’s NACS Show is amping up its networking events, too. The annual Kick-Off Party will be held at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium — the site of the annual SEC Football Championship game and, most recently, Super Bowl LIII — on Tuesday, Oct. 1. The following night, there will be a newly added NACS Show Happy Hour.
Making the Most of the Show
“Our attendee survey results from previous years show that those who pre-plan have a more positive NACS Show experience,” he notes.
To plan ahead before hitting the expo floor and while on it, the My Show Planner — available at nacsshow.com — combines planning and logistics into one easy-to-use tool, allowing attendees to preview and select the education sessions they want to attend and devise a personal plan for the exhibitors they want to visit. Plus, the My Show Planner tool automatically syncs with the official NACS Show mobile app, so everything is available on all devices for easy access.
One other piece of advice Lenard shares is to try to meet people. “[It] can be difficult if you’re an introvert. However, you’ll quickly find that our industry is full of people just like you who are seeking new solutions,” he told Convenience Store News. “Think of a couple icebreakers like ‘What’s your biggest challenge?’ and the conversation can take off from there.”