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Supplier Spotlights: Ansa, Arctic Glacier Premium Ice & Cantaloupe Inc.

GSTV, The Hershey Co., KPS Global, Li'l Drug Stores, Mars Inc., P97 Networks, Premium Food Group and Reynolds American also announced new initiatives and partnerships.

NATIONAL REPORT — While it's important for convenience store retailers to market themselves, new products, services, promotions and other initiatives by c-store suppliers are a major part of capturing consumer interest. Convenience Store News will regularly highlight such efforts in this roundup.

[Read more: Supplier Spotlights: Cantaloupe Inc., D&H United Fueling Solutions & D&S Car Wash Supply]

Here are the latest supplier spotlights:

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Screenshot of Ansa dashboard


Fintech infrastructure platform Ansa raised $14 million in its Series A funding round led by Renegade Partners and with participation from Bain Capital Ventures, B37 Ventures, Box Group and Wischoff Ventures. 

The company will use the funding to broaden the depth of its payment solutions, with a focus on product development and engineering, to empower merchants to better engage their customers.

"Commerce has outpaced payments innovation. The technology paradigms we use for payments are decades old. As our world increasingly digitizes, consumers demand better experiences as businesses continue to innovate," said Sophia Goldberg, Ansa co-founder and CEO. "From marketplaces and microtransactions to convenience stores and quick-serve businesses, modern commerce has changed. At Ansa, we are excited to pioneer solutions that enable merchants to optimize seamless payment strategies, boosting customer engagement, retention and frequency for sustained growth in today's competitive market."

Ansa was recently recognized as one of The Information's Most Promising Startups of 2023. The current investment round received 95.6% of its funding from female investors.

Arctic Glacier Premium Ice

Arctic Glacier Ice tapped Descartes Systems Group to help improve its distribution network efficiency, fleet performance and the customer experience. 

The company plans to use Descartes' strategic route planning solution to optimize ice distribution from more than 100 facilities and 1,000 vehicles to 75,000 customer locations across the United States and Canada.

"To minimize our operating costs, we need to reset our network multiple times annually because of large demand fluctuations and our aggressive, acquisition-driven growth strategy," said Elizabeth DiFazio, director, routing and order scheduling at Arctic Glacier. "The Descartes solution allows us to quickly execute network reroutes, which helps us capture fuel, labor and equipment savings, cost-effectively fold acquisitions into our network and increase delivery productivity in the peak summer season."

Cantaloupe IDW partnership banner

Cantaloupe Inc.

California-based Innovative DisplayWorks (IDW) chose Cantaloupe Inc. to become a preferred original equipment manufacturer for IDW's Cooler Café. 

The collaboration will integrate Cantaloupe's Smart Lock Connect technology and P30 card readers directly into IDW's proprietary built-in lock in order to transform its standard coolers into smart coolers.  

"We are thrilled to partner with IDW, a leader in the cooler industry, to bring our advanced technology and seamless payment solutions to a broader market," said Jeff Dumbrell, chief revenue officer at Cantaloupe. "This collaboration not only expands the availability of Cantaloupe's Smart Lock Connect technology but also leverages IDW as a strategic channel partner for our Cooler Café solution. Together, we are revolutionizing the way consumers interact with coolers, providing convenience and innovation at their fingertips while driving growth through this exciting new channel."

Smart Lock Connect will be utilized in both single and double door coolers and freezers while utilizing an aesthetically pleasing design. This integration should enhance functionality for customers through features such as remote temperature control, the ability to lock or unlock coolers via mobile app or the Cantaloupe Go platform, and providing insights and reporting into cooler and freezer performance.  


Fuel retail video network GSTV entered into a partnership with Big Machine Label Group, a subsidiary of HYBE America, to deliver exclusive musical content to GSTV screens.  

[Read more: GSTV Adds COVID-19 Response Messaging to Forecourt Platform]

Launching with the new "Sound Bites Powered by Big Machine" series, more than 29,000 locations across the country will offer customers behind the scenes looks, new music previews and more than 40 artists including Sheryl Crow, Mötley Crüe, Tim McGraw, Thomas Rhett, Carly Pearce and Jackson Dean. 

"Our audience of drivers inherently loves music, and we're thrilled to partner with Big Machine Label Group, one of Nashville's biggest and best labels, to engage our viewers with beloved artists and encourage discovery of new music while on the road," said Kristina Lutz, executive vice president of marketing at GSTV. "This is great for viewers, for artists and for our retail and brand partners, a true win/win/win."  

The collaboration will also provide brands with the opportunity to work with the label group's artists and music in new ways, such as participating in unique activations like the Big Machine Label Group x CMA Fest 2024, as well as provide opportunities for brand integrations including sponsorship of the Big Machine Label Group 20-second content segments; integration into custom produced Big Machine content; and custom promotions and content with Big Machine artists.  

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Hershey Skinnypop campaign banner

The Hershey Co.

The Hershey Co. launched the "Freedom to Snack" campaign for its SkinnyPop popcorn brand. 

In three ads created by the Preacher agency, the campaign focuses on the idea that SkinnyPop popcorn isn't strictly a better-for-you option but about eating one piece of popcorn after another to keep snackers satisfied. The adverts highlight the brand's original flavor ingredients alongside its taste.

Each ad creates a scene showing how SkinnyPop popcorn manifests as an everyday, everywhere kind of snack. From two crafty roommates "accidentally" painting their entire apartment to a high-powered businesswoman requesting that her assistant physically "hold" her calls, texts and emails, and even a hot air balloon ride gone wrong, each setting is intended to drive home the moment the snackers realize that they can continue snacking to their heart's desire.

All three ads are available on TV, digital, social and streaming platforms.

KPS Innovation Center Ribbon Cutting ceremony

KPS Global

KPS Global opened a new innovation center located near its corporate headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. 

The KPS Global Innovation Center offers customers and employees an opportunity to see the company's broad portfolio in one place, including products such as Fusionframe and Instawall. The new building will also showcase custom enclosures for controlled environments as they would be used in real-world applications, giving customers a hands-on experience that will let them understand all the applications the custom solutions can be used for.

"KPS Global prides itself on its innovative solutions," said Mike Eakins, KPS CEO. "We are very excited to have such an incredible place, close to our corporate office where our customers, employees and vendors can have a hands-on, interactive experience while showcasing our broad product offerings along with our newest, innovative product solutions."

Attendees at the facility's opening ceremony included senior leadership, David Frase, former president of Kysor Panel Systems, and patent-holder Jim Costanza, who helped develop some of the products within the center. 

Li'l Drug Stores Products

Lil' Drug Store Products (LDSP) was named a 2024 US Best Managed company by Deloitte Private and The Wall Street Journal. 

Now in its fifth year, the award recognizes the achievements of U.S. private companies and the successes of their management teams. Honorees are selected by an external panel of judges who evaluate applicants based on strategy, ability to execute, culture, and governance and financial performance. They join an ecosystem of organizations from more than 44 countries.

[Read more: 2023 Category Captain for Health & Beauty Care: Lil’ Drug Store Products]

"Receiving this award is a true honor that reflects the dedication of our entire team and our commitment to consistently addressing the health and wellness needs of our customers in the convenience and travel industries," said Chris DeWolf, LDSP president and CEO. "This accolade underscores our strong company culture and values and celebrates our growth from a simple idea into an industry leader. Receiving this during our 50th anniversary makes it particularly meaningful. We are thrilled to honor the contributions and passion of both our current and former team members and look forward to a bright future at Lil' Drug."

Starburst Different Every Time Card ad

Mars Inc.

Mars Inc. candy brand Starburst debuted "Different Every Time," a brand new campaign inspired by all the different ways a fan can enjoy one pack of 12 original Starburst. 

The "Different Every Time" campaign is intended to celebrate the ability to choose any combination of flavors and fun. Created by Team OMC (DDB and Critical Mass), the campaign is anchored by a new advertisement created with the help of generative AI that delivers different world scenes and styles so viewers can experience different content every time. Made up of more than 300 bespoke assets, the campaign will extend across TV, online, social and more. 

Fans can also engage with the campaign on Snapchat using a different-every-time AR lens inspired by Starburst, and on Spotify with a "chews" your own music adventure that allows fans to find and experience new music based on their flavor-inspired choices. 

P97 Networks Inc.

P97 Networks, a provider of cloud-based mobile commerce solutions for the convenience retail industry, secured a $10 million line of credit from Wells Fargo to help fuel the software firm's growth. 

[Read more: Mobivity & P97 Networks Partner to Bring Fuel Savings to Gamers]

The company plans to use the funds to focus on global expansion, including energy transition, electric vehicle charging, logistics/fleet management, digital marketing/data analytics, and payments/loyalty aggregation. 

"For over 10 years, P97 has been developing an innovative, engaging, and data-driven customer loyalty and payments platform that has been recognized as an industry leader," said Donald Frieden, P97 CEO. "With this new credit facility, P97 will continue to serve and grow market share across the transportation sectors, including fuels marketing, energy transition, fleet, and convenience retail." 

P97's platform enables consumers to use third-party apps to activate the pump, pay for fuel and receive loyalty discounts. According to the company, more than 53% of U.S. gas stations are already connected to their platform. 

PFG Distribution Center exterior

Premium Food Group Co.

Performance Food Group Co. (PFG) partnered with Advanced Energy Machines (AEM), FreeWire Technologies, GridMarket and Volvo Trucks North America to hold an open house event at PFG's Gilroy, Calif., facility to showcase the companies' collaboration to create a sustainable distribution center model of the future.

Through these partnerships, PFG has implemented the use of direct emissions free transportation and refrigeration technologies, and incorporated solar power generation capabilities into its Gilroy facility. 

To help grow its zero-emission fleet, PFG deployed seven zero-tailpipe emission Class 8 Volvo VNR Electric trucks with support from TEC Equipment. PFG's sustainability plan also calls for the food distributor to move away from diesel-powered transport refrigeration units (TRUs), so it called on AEM to replace its diesel-powered TRUs with more than 30 of AEM's zero-emission SolarTechTRUs. 

To support the new vehicles, FreeWire installed 15 boost chargers at PFG's Gilroy site that are capable of simultaneously charging 30 Class 8 tractors and can deliver an ultra-fast charge using an internal battery to increase the speed of the charge without the direct use of grid power.

Finally, PFG installed the infrastructure needed to power the more than 189,000-square-foot facility through a rooftop solar and battery storage project that was initiated through GridMarket's platform.

As of the first quarter of 2024, PFG has been able to reduce its CO2 output by 500 tons over the past three years. 

Reynolds Seal Award winner banner

Reynolds American Inc.

The SEAL Awards named British American Tobacco Group subsidiary Reynolds American Inc. as the recipient of its 2024 SEAL Business Sustainability Award in the Environmental Initiative category. 

The company was recognized for its WaterHubSM project under construction by a Reynolds subsidiary at the Reynolds Operations Center in Tobaccoville, N.C. 

The Environmental Initiative Award evaluated applicants on impact metrics, innovation and uniqueness of the initiative, sharing of insights and best practices, and investment of organizational leadership capital.  

The SEAL Business Sustainability Awards honor leadership, innovation and commitment to sustainable business practices. The recognition complements Reynolds' efforts to manage water sustainably across the manufacturing facilities of its operating companies, with 100% of its operations sites having earned Alliance for Water Stewardship certification.

Simbe Robotics Inc.

Simbe Robotics Inc. entered into a partnership with Plexus Corp. to bring its retail robotics-as-a-service to market quickly and at global scale. 

The partnership will assist Simbe's growing operations and customer base, which spans numerous countries, and enable the company to meet surging interest from prospective retail partners.

Plexus Corp. is an electronics manufacturing services company which designs and manufactures highly complex products. Plexus provides design and development, supply chain, new product introduction, manufacturing, and sustaining services solutions to healthcare/life sciences, industrial, and aerospace and defense companies.

"Throughout our first year of work together, Plexus has proven their commitment to supply chain, capacity, and quality to facilitate global production," said Gary Galensky, chief operating officer of Simbe. "This strategic partnership ensures that Simbe can continue to meet the rising market demand for cutting-edge retail technology and help our customers solve operational inefficiencies, boost revenue, and enhance the overall in-store experience."

The extended collaboration follows a year of growth for Simbe, including the introduction of an intelligence platform for wholesalers, which was launched and deployed for BJ's Wholesale Club; the expansion of its partnership with SpartanNash; and the hiring of several key executives.

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