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.
Here are the latest supplier spotlights:
In partnership with Parley for the Oceans, Corona is piloting plastic-free six-pack rings in select markets in an effort to lead the industry with eco-friendly packaging. The partnership began with a commitment to protect 100 islands by 2020 and expands to include the pursuit of scalable innovation that can change the status quo.
"The beach is an important part of Corona's DNA and we have been working with Parley to address the issue on the frontlines where plastic is physically accumulating," said Corona Better World Director Evan Ellman. "We also recognize the influence a global brand like Corona can have on the industry, and with the support of Parley, are pursuing scalable solutions like plastic-free six pack rings that can become a new standard to avoid plastic for good."
While Corona is primarily packaged in glass and fiberboard, the brand sees an opportunity to help redesign a common source of plastic in the category: six pack rings. The plastic-free rings being tested are made from plant-based biodegradable fibers, with a mix of by-product waste and compostable materials. If left in the environment, they break down into organic material that is not harmful to wildlife.
"Our oceans are under attack. We are taking their life in rapid speed, destroying the chemistry that allows us to be here. Therefore we are bidding on the few who take the lead in true change. The ones who are shaping the future with us," said Cyrill Gutsch, founder and CEO, Parley for the Oceans. "Corona is such an Ocean Champion, a powerful ally in our war against marine plastic pollution — and in building the material revolution that will lead us beyond it. We share the goal of phasing plastic out for good, because we simply can't afford its toxic impact anymore."
Chester's Chicken partnered with Love's Travel Stops to celebrate National Fried Pie Day a day early. On Nov. 30, Chester's gave away a free fried pie with the purchase of any Chester's menu item to the first 100 guests at more than 100 participating Love's locations nationwide.
National Fried Pie Day is an appetizing and festive way to welcome the holidays and cooler weather," said Joe Cotton, director of restaurant services for Love's. "By partnering with Chester's Chicken, we're able to treat our Customers and thank them for another wonderful year. This one-day offer is too great to pass up!"
The promotion followed the launch of Chester's new Strawberry Cream Cheese Fried Pie, which debuted Nov. 1 at participating Love's locations.
"Chester's is thrilled to partner with Love's to introduce our new Strawberry Cream Cheese Fried Pie," said William Culpepper, vice president of marketing at Chester's International. "It is a delicious dessert that perfectly complements our fresh fried chicken and gives our Customers a portable snacking option for today's on-the-go lifestyle."
Franke Foodservice Systems
Global equipment and supplies solutions provider Franke Foodservice Systems acquired Chain Link Services LP, a specialty distributor focused on national foodservice and convenience retail chain customers. The move deepens Franke's focus on providing highly tailored systems for large customers that are typically comprised of supply chain, logistics and project management services.
Chain Link's two principal business activities are Turnkey Resources, a comprehensive services package enabling highly efficient and cost-effective store openings and upgrades to large c-store chains, and Step Foodservice, which helps leading restaurant brands with ground-up development, remodels or system upgrades.
"Both of our business units are laser-focused on process improvements in procurement, logistics and project management so that our customers can maximize both cost and operational efficiencies," said Harold Gernsbacher, Chain Link founder.
Chain Link's current management team, headed by President Kevin Garsek, will remain in place.
"We greatly admire the organization and customer base that Harold has built over many years, and we look forward to carrying on that legacy," said Thomas Campion, CEO of Franke's global Foodservice Systems business. "Kevin and his team are a perfect fit because their goals are the same as ours. We build deep knowledge of our customers' business, and then leverage extensive assets and decades of chain experience to help them grow in a way that lowers costs to franchisees while protecting their brands."
GasBuddy is teaming with the ParkWhiz Arrive Network to offer drivers more ways to save money and make fueling and parking more convenient through a single interface. GasBuddy users can now find, book and pay for parking at thousands of lots and garages nationwide within the GasBuddy app, as well as earn GasBack rebates in the form of free gasoline, when they use the service.
"GasBuddy is about providing drivers with the biggest everyday savings on gas anywhere, even when you're looking for a parking spot," said Michael DiLorenzo, chief marketing officer at GasBuddy. "By partnering with ParkWhiz, we are widening opportunities for our users to live their lives and get free gas when they do."
Users will have access to the ParkWhiz Arrive Network, which enables drivers, fleets and connected vehicles to reserve a space in advance or by driving up and gaining friction-free access to thousands of participating parking lots and garages without pulling a ticket or taking out a credit card.
Koupon Media, a mobile offer platform and promotion network in convenience, and ZipLine, a provider of payment-powered loyalty, are partnering to bring a combined rewards and payment solution to convenience retailers. The partnership creates the first fully-integrated mobile loyalty experience featuring consumer packaged goods (CPG)-funded offers, rewards, and payment in a single app.
ZipLine's mobile platform features a frictionless check-out experience, integrated with smart rewards that target specific consumer preferences. Through a direct integration with Koupon Media, fully funded CPG offers from top national and regional brands will be available to consumers. Offers will be distributed directly to consumers through retailers' own mobile apps.
"ZipLine's expertise and success in private label payment programs, paired with Koupon- sourced and personalized mobile offers, will create compelling consumer loyalty," said Brad VanOtterloo, president of Koupon Media. "The retail industry is highly competitive, and both ZipLine and Koupon Media are on a mission to help c-store marketers drive increased sales and loyalty through innovative technology."
NCR Corp. is acquiring JetPay, a provider of end-to-end payment processing and human capital management solutions, for approximately $184 million. This acquisition will enable NCR to integrate a cloud-based payments platform into its enterprise point of sale (POS) solutions for retail and hospitality industries. It also accelerates NCR's strategy of increasing recurring revenue growth and expanding margins by enhancing its mix of software and services.
"The acquisition of JetPay is a key, strategic initiative that will enable NCR to create a full, end-to-end integrated payments offering for its enterprise-wide POS customers," said NCR President and CEO Michael D. Hayford. "Enabling payments as part of our transactions is part of our long-term strategy to create integrated value for our clients."
The transaction is anticipated to close by year-end, subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions. The companies anticipate a smooth transition for customers, channel partners and employees.
NCR also acquired StopLift Checkout Vision Systems to combat theft in the retail industry. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
The transaction reinforces NCR's strategic focus on self-checkout solutions that provide the best possible shopper experience and return on the investment for retailers, the company said. NCR will integrate StopLift's Artificial Intelligence capabilities that detect unusual and possibly fraudulent behavior into its retail store transformation solutions.
StopLift's loss prevention management features will help NCR address retailers' concerns over shrink. NCR is the global leader in self-checkout technology with more than 250,000 installations worldwide.
"This acquisition will help NCR accelerate growth in our market-leading self-checkout and store transformation solutions," Hayford said. "In addition to creating new value for our retail customers around the world, StopLift's fraud detection technology will be a key enabler of our frictionless commerce product strategy."
PepsiCo Inc. completed its acquisition of SodaStream International Ltd. The deal is a step in PepsiCo's Performance with Purpose journey, supporting health and wellness through environmentally friendly, cost-effective and fun-to-use beverage solutions, and the company's Beyond the Bottle strategy to form a more sustainable beverage ecosystem.
"I couldn't be prouder or more excited to welcome SodaStream to the PepsiCo family," said Ramon Laguarta, CEO of PepsiCo. "With its customizable options, SodaStream empowers consumers to personalize their preferred beverage in an environmentally friendly way and provides PepsiCo with a significant presence in the at-home marketplace. Together with SodaStream, I'm confident we can accelerate progress on our shared goal of curbing plastic waste and building a more sustainable future."
PepsiCo's strong research and development capabilities, global reach, design and marketing expertise, combined with SodaStream's differentiated and unique product range position SodaStream for further expansion and breakthrough innovation, the company said.
"We are thrilled to become part of PepsiCo and join its diverse and talented team. SodaStream was founded to bring healthy, convenient and environmentally friendly beverage options to consumers around the world — and PepsiCo will help us deliver and expand on this mission. With some of the world's leading marketing and R&D teams, and access to new markets and channels, we are excited to grow hand-in-hand with PepsiCo in the months and years to come," said Daniel Birnbaum, SodaStream CEO and director.
PepsiCo Also acquired Health Warrior Inc., a nutrition-forward company that makes plant-based products, including nutrition bars and on-trend offerings. The transaction will further expand the company's nutrition portfolio to offer consumers additional options in an exciting growth category.
"We're thrilled to welcome the innovative Health Warrior brand to the PepsiCo family," said Al Carey, CEO of PepsiCo North America. "We continue to position ourselves at the forefront of changing consumer preferences and trends. This acquisition helps us increase our presence in the nutrition bar category, which is an attractive growth space."
Health Warrior products are made from nutrient-dense, non-GMO and gluten-free ingredients. Its current offerings include nutrition bars made with chia and pumpkin seeds, and other plant-based protein offerings like mug muffins and protein powder.
PDI acquired Outsite Networks, a loyalty company with more than 18 years of experience in the U.S. convenience retail sector and more than six billion recorded transaction. The acquisition is meant to enhance PDI's capabilities to uniquely serve customers with a complete solution portfolio and give Outsite Networks' customers access to PDI's suite of ERP, business intelligence and customer marketing solutions.
"Outsite Networks is a loyalty company that has been serving c-stores for nearly two decades, and we're excited to add their industry expertise and customers to the PDI family," said Jimmy Frangis, CEO at PDI. "This acquisition reinforces PDI's commitment to provide customers with transformative solutions and business services that optimize their operations, increase efficiencies and drive topline revenues."
By combining PDI's ERP, and Excentus loyalty solutions with Outsite Networks, the company will launch the convenience retail industry's first marketing cloud solution, PDI Marketing Cloud, which will help convenience retailers and petroleum wholesalers bring together data from their entire enterprise — operational, product and customer — to grow revenues across all aspects of their business, the company said.
S&D Coffee & Tea
Five coffee professionals were selected to receive the Specialty Coffee Association's (SCA) new Leadership Equity and Diversity (LEAD) Scholarship, made possible by the support of of S&D Coffee & Tea. The scholarship is aimed at increasing leadership diversity within the global coffee community by allowing access to professional development resources to people from underrepresented or marginalized communities.
"We are proud to work with SCA to develop a program that provides members of the coffee community that typically don't have access, with the tools they need to further their career," said Helen Griffith, vice president, marketing, S&D Coffee & Tea. "These scholars have the opportunity to create real change in the industry and we want to make sure they get off to an excellent start."
To kick off the program, scholars attended a two-day immersion program at S&D's headquarters in Concord, N.C. It included an in-depth overview of S&D and a tour of the roasting and manufacturing facilities. Attendees were able to discuss their professional development goals and take part in coffee and tea cupping, a Charlotte coffee crawl and one-on-one time with select members of S&D's management team.
Throughout the program, scholars will focus on their education and career goals, personal and professional development opportunities and team building. Each members will complete their choice of a Coffee Skills Program (CSP) course or AST Certification. Each scholar is paired with an instructor to complete their CSP, a mentor to support their goals and a SCA senior staff member.
Shikatani Lacroix Design
Strategic design agency Shikatani Lacroix Design (SLD) is uniting with its sister company SLDNXT and unveiling a new corporate identity that will further establish it as a global leader in retail design, the company said. The partnership will combine SLD's Think Blink process with the pioneering technology and insights of SLDNXT.
"The rebranding of Shikatani Lacroix and addition of SLDNXT brings clarity and focus to our organization," says President Jean-Pierre Lacroix. "As a company that is dedicated to making retail relevant and engaging, this announcement reinforces the essential role that digital and retail play in building stronger customer experiences."
The new corporate identity includes a new square shaped logo that symbolizes SLD's commitment to breaking out of the box, and also represents the inclusivity that defines the company, according to SLD.
Stuzo is teaming with Hatch Loyalty to standardize Hatch's loyalty infrastructure and point-of-sale (POS) connections on Stuzo's Open Commerce Platform. The partnership combines Stuzo's expertise in enterprise retail middleware and POS systems with Hatch's leading customer activation engine, creating a powerful turnkey commerce and loyalty solution.
"We are excited to add Hatch to Open Commerce's growing roster of digital service provider integrations," said Gunter Pfau, Stuzo CEO. "This partnership and integration advances our mission to meet retailers requirement of being an open platform with integrations to best-in-class digital service providers. The addition of Hatch amplifies the value and vision of Open Commerce by leveraging Hatch's consumer relationship management capabilities."
Hatch + Open Commerce enables seamless integration of mobile payments and loyalty with POS hardware to create a unified digital and physical consumer experience. This helps retailers personalize the consumer experience, generate deeper consumer insights, and build one-to-one consumer relationships, according to the company.
Australian chocolate brand Yowie Chocolate, which has a mission to preserve the natural world, celebrated Wildlife Conservation Day by partnering with 7-Eleven Inc. and the renowned Dallas Zoo to deliver sweet treats to both animals and visitor.
On Dec. 4, Yowie delivered enrichment items, which encourage the animals' natural curiosity and increase engagement in their environment, for several of the Zoo's animals along with serving as entertainment for zoo visitors. Additionally, visitors to the zoo on Dec. 1 had the opportunity to receive a free Yowie premium nut-free chocolate with a limited edition wild animal figurine inside.
Each Yowie chocolate also includes a leaflet that profiles the animal, its habitat, food sources and threats to the animal and its environment.