ALEXANDRIA, Va. — No two convenience store dayparts are alike. As traditional daypart hours and product bestsellers constantly evolve alongside the needs of consumers, retailers should be prepared to introduce fresh ideas into their foodservice programs and target customers outside the customary dayparts.
During the "Understanding Dayparts & Optimizing Each Hour of the Day" education session held as part of the NACS Crack the Code Experience, Jiffy Trip Chief Operating Officer Alex Williams discussed how the Cherokee, Okla.-based chain of 28 c-stores across northern Oklahoma embraced outside-the-box thinking and identified opportunities and new ideas for testing or implementation in its foodservice business.
Last summer, Jiffy Trip opened its largest store to date in Enid, Okla. At 8,000 square feet, the store features a modern look and offers a myriad of amenities to fit every need imaginable.
For starters, the retailer offers two kinds of walk-in cooler concepts. One is a beer cave, which is new to the state of Oklahoma. The state legalized the sale of high-point beer in 2018, so Jiffy Trip built this amenity as a volume builder. The other is an H2O Cave, which is a more customized offering and can be stocked with cases of bottled water, 2-liter bottles, 12-packs and other larger multipacks.
"Our research showed that blue-collar workers like multipacks, and this cooler helps with labor costs," Williams pointed out. "The H2O Cave offers a little bit of everything by taking what a shopper might find in a dollar store or grocery store."
Three years ago, Jiffy Trip decided to make an investment in foodservice. The retailer looked at best-in-class restaurants to see what their programs offered. With that, the JT's concept was born. Today, this proprietary fresh foodservice program encompasses:
Jiffy Trip hadn't previously offered the traditional c-store staple; now, the chain utilizes a value-driven self-serve program.
Checkout Food Destinations
The checkout area is built around its fresh food offers, such as its extra-large pizzas and pastries, that are kept in clear cases to entice consumers on their way out.
Jiffy Trip installed a frozen dispensed beverage station boasting 15 flavors. According to Williams, the program drives a tremendous amount of traffic from families and kids, especially during afterschool hours.
"The program can be cost-controlled and offers flexibility. If you don't have something frozen, you're missing an opportunity," he emphasized.
Fresh To Go
If retailers can't support a made-to-order program, large open coolers should provide fresh salads, sandwiches and better-for-you offers that can be easily consumed on the go, according to Williams.
If retailers do have the accessibility for an open-kitchen concept and the labor to support it, Williams suggests self-service kiosks for made-to-order items. However, he encourages retailers to partake in SKU rationalization along the way to take out low-performing products and introduce new items.
Taking consumers out of the c-store mindset and into more of a restaurant mindset, a dining area can mean a little less flexibility, but it welcomes shoppers to consume products on-site.
During his presentation, Williams also pointed to three key drivers of profitability that c-store retailers should consider if they haven't already: drive-thrus, self-checkout and mobile apps.
If a retailer finds that one of these three drivers isn't doable for their business, then the Jiffy Trip exec offered up these areas of opportunity to offset any lost foodservice sales or margins:
Promotional endcaps — Customers want fresh offers, so try to introduce new promotions every two to four weeks.
Add seasonal apparel — These products can help combat declines in tobacco or other segments of the store by adding something new.
Sell local — Jiffy Trip offers a "Made in Oklahoma" section that allows customers to purchase local items like barbecue sauce, jerky and chocolate.
The NACS Crack the Code Experience was a five-week digital event that brought together convenience store industry retailers and suppliers virtually in lieu of an in-person NACS Show this year. The event concluded Dec. 4.