Featured speaker Tom Cook will outline reasons for curbside's continued popularity at sixth-annual Convenience Foodservice Exchange.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Curbside pickup, which started at convenience stores as a safety measure during the COVID-19 pandemic, has been embraced by consumers and is now a convenience they have come to expect.
That's why c-stores need to invest long-term in curbside, according to Tom Cook, principal at King-Casey and featured speaker at this year's Convenience Store NewsConvenience Foodservice Exchange event, being held Nov. 9-10 at The Westin Charlotte.
"Customers have become hooked on curbside pickup because of the convenience," said Cook, noting that the trend goes beyond foodservice. "Walmart, Target, Kroger, even specialty retailers like Williams-Sonoma, have conditioned customers to expect curbside pickup as a normal, standard convenience."
Cook sees curbside as part of a range of off-premise delivery options that c-store retailers need to utilize, especially if they want to serve millennials and Gen Zers.
"If you want their business, this is part of their DNA," he said.
Cook's presentation will focus on the state of curbside in the convenience channel, the issues and barriers to entry, and what c-stores must do to be successful with curbside and stay ahead of their convenience store and restaurant competitors.
The theme of this year's Convenience Foodservice Exchange is "Solving the Post-Pandemic Riddle: How Convenience Foodservice Needs to Adapt." Foodservice operations were one of the hardest-hit areas of the store as the nation reeled from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic is likely to have a lasting impact on American consumers' tastes and desires, in how they shop, and in their expectations and comfort level for purchasing food at convenience stores. In short, everything has changed for the nation's convenience foodservice retailers.
The sixth-annual Convenience Foodservice Exchange will explore the ways retailers are reviving their foodservice sales in the new normal. The agenda will tackle such key issues as:
Embracing the New World: Gray Cat Enterprises' John Matthews will address the safety, transactional, marketing, foodservice and store design long-term strategic concerns of c-stores in the new normal.
Optimizing Opportunities in a Challenging Labor Environment: Business Accelerator Team founding partner Kay Segal will moderate a retailer panel discussing real-life logistical challenges in today's market. Featured panelists will include Chris Postlewaite, director of foodservice, Minuteman Food Mart; Ben Lucky, category manager, foodservice, Dash In; and Ed Burcher, Business Accelerator Team.
Why C-store Foodservice Will Have a Record Year: Joyce Baird from FoodserviceIP will present the firm's comprehensive intelligence on c-store foodservice and discuss how retailers and suppliers will revise their go-to-market plans over the next two years.
Food Safety Protocol for Non-Restaurant Operators, Staff and Vendors: A Johnson & Wales professor will discuss the latest techniques and programs for ensuring food safety.
The Hottest Foodservice Trends: Participate in an interactive discussion as a Johnson & Wales professor helps identify real food trends — plant-based foods, sustainability, ghost kitchens, takeout, delivery and more — that have staying power and are appropriate for the convenience channel.
The New Convenience Retailer: A panel of retailer executives will show off and discuss their newest food-forward stores and programs aimed at meeting the needs of the evolving consumer. Featured panelists will include Ryan Krebs, foodservice director, Enmarket; Heather Davis, foodservice director, Parker's Convenience; and Chad White, foodservice category manager, Rutter's.
As in previous years, the 2021 program will also include the presentation of CSNews' annual Foodservice Innovators Awards and one-on-one business development meetings among attendees. This year's award winners are:
Foodservice Innovator of the Year: Rutter's
Prepared Foods Innovator of the Year: The Spinx Co.
Hot Beverages Innovator of the Year: Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc./Circle K
Cold & Frozen Beverages Innovator of the Year: 7-Eleven Inc.
Foodservice Innovator to Watch: Family Express Corp.
In addition, this year's Convenience Foodservice Exchange will feature a guided food and retail tour exploring Charlotte's most delicious and innovative restaurants, food shops and markets. Led by Taste Carolina, guides will introduce attendees to the history and architecture of this beautiful city, too.