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:
The DRB Systems technical support team known as the Knowledge Center transitioned to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic. This allows the company to continue to provide support for its point-of-sale and other car wash technology solutions.
"We are using the latest tools, including our cloud-based CRM Salesforce and a phone system that uses softphones to allow agents to receive and make calls just like they were in the office," said Kim Cantrel, vice president of service delivery. "Our regional team leads and supervisors are utilizing online dashboards to maintain visibility of team performance to ensure we are still maintaining the level of service we do inside DRB headquarters."
Team leads and supervisors are also able to access real-time reporting that shows them which agents are speaking with which customers. They are utilizing Microsoft teams to answer technicians' questions and provide them with assistance to resolve issues quickly. They also have a help assistant built into their issue ticketing system to give agents easy access to coaches when needed.
In the last 30 days, the Knowledge Center has received 15,141 calls, about 20 percent lower than normal due to car washes that have closed as a result of the pandemic, Cantrell noted. However, many customers that are closed down are taking advantage of the time to upgrade hardware and prepare for when they will re-open.
The Fry Family Food Co.
The Fry Family Food Co. (Fry's) teamed with The LIVEKINDLY Co. to create a multibrand umbrella company. Fry's brings to the table 30 years of experience, a deep understanding of local and global value chains in plant-based meat alternatives as well as a portfolio of over 60 plant-based products.
"This relationship with The LIVEKINDLY Co. is the Fry's vision continued," said Tammy Fry, Fry's international marketing director. "We are thrilled to be part of this new company that is going to revolutionize the global plant-based food market. The agreement gives Fry's the opportunity to bring to scale quality plant-based food products which means we reach more customers and change more hearts and minds."
Brands under the LIVEKINDLY Co. portfolio offer consumers non-GMO, plant-based meat alternatives and include: The Fry Family Food Co. and LikeMeat as well as LIVEKINDLY Media, a digital media platform.
"Fry's has been a family-run business from day one when we first started making meat alternatives from our kitchen over 30 years ago," said Wally Fry, co-founder of Fry's. "While we've grown over those three decades, moving into global markets and offering multiple product innovations, we've always remained family owned and run. We are all really excited about this venture and we see it as a coming together of like-minded brands to create a movement for change. The family is still very involved in the business and we will continue to create our award-winning products that our consumers know and love."
GetUpside, the digital platform that personalizes brick-and-mortar commerce, announced partnerships with GasBuddy and Checkout 51 to make GetUpside's personalized offers available to their users. More than 25 million monthly users now have access to these offers, making GetUpside one of the largest platforms that connects consumers to fuel, restaurant, and grocery businesses, the company said.
"Merchants and consumers both win with GetUpside's Partner Platform," said Alex Kinnier, GetUpside co-founder and CEO. "For merchants, making GetUpside's offer technology available to other apps and platforms increases reach and profitably drives more consumers to their locations. For consumers, we're meeting them where they want to be — whether that's in the GetUpside app or elsewhere — to increase their purchasing power. These partnerships are just the first of many we'll have in the coming months, from consumer apps to financial services.
GasBuddy debuted its new Deal Alerts feature in February. The new capability includes GetUpside's personalized fuel offers to deliver an innovative fuel-purchasing experience that gives drivers below-advertised gas prices.
GetUpside's Partner Platform is also powering the expansion of Checkout 51 offerings for users. Since February, Checkout 51 users have been able to take advantage of cash back on gas and groceries in 42 states.
"Partnering with GetUpside allows us to provide our community of drivers with even more ways to save money on fuel," said Sarah McCrary, CEO of GasBuddy. "The GetUpside team make it easy to integrate their offers into our platform."
ITW Food Equipment Group
ITW Food Equipment Group announced the first winner of the Save Your Kitchen 2020 campaign sweepstakes in honor of National School Breakfast Week. Lake Central School Corporation in St. John, Ind., won by random selection, the first of four drawings for 2020.
Save Your Kitchen will provide free Traulsen and Hobart kitchen equipment to four winning sweepstake entrants.
"The 2020 Save Your Kitchen Campaign is such a great way for us to give back to schools," said Hailey Elting, sales development manager and K-12 specialist at Traulsen. "Each year we hear from hundreds of schools who desire to upgrade their kitchen with best-in-class equipment to create tasty and nutritious meals for their students. When we partner with these deserving schools to provide new kitchen equipment, everyone wins.
Molson Coors Beverage Co. and VEXO Corp. formed a joint venture to explore opportunities for non-alcohol hemp-derived CBD beverages in Colorado. It will be majority owned by Molson Coors and operate as a standalone entity with its own board of directors, management team, resources and go-to-market strategy.
"CBD beverages are a growing segment within the non-alcohol beverage category and this JV provides us an opportunity to build capabilities in Colorado," said Molson Coors President of Emerging Growth Pete Marino. "We chose Colorado because of its established regulatory framework for CBD and we plan to approach any opportunities in full alignment with our commitment to commercial responsibility, transparency and compliance."
Exploring hemp-derived CBD beverages is part of Molson Coors' strategy to grow beyond the beer aisle with wine and spirits and non-alcohol drinks. Molson Coors and HEXO have another joint venture to produce non-alcohol cannabis-infused beverages for the Canadian market called Truss Beverages that has been preparing for launch, including completion of product formulations, branding and construction of a cannabis beverage production facility in Belleville, Ontario. Truss is expected to launch its first beverages in Canada later this year.
"Molson Coors and HEXO have already built a great partnership in Canada that we believe will produce some of the best adult non-alcohol beverage brands in the Canadian market," added Sebastien St-Louis, CEO and co-founder of HEXO. "I am thrilled with the opportunity to bring those learnings to Colorado, under the leadership of Molson Coors, Powered by HEXO."
All production and distribution for Truss CBD USA will be kept within Colorado state lines since it is one of a few states that has an established regulatory framework for hemp-derived CBD in food and beverages. No hemp-derived CBD products will be produced at Molson Coors facilities.
Mondelēz International Inc. completed its agreement to acquire a significant majority interest in Give & Go, a provider of fully-finished sweet baked goods and owners of the two-bite brand of brownies and the Create-A-Treat brand.
"As we continue to establish foundations in fast-growing snacking adjacencies, this is an important acquisition for our company that supports our ambition to lead the future of snacking," said Glen Walter, executive vice president and president, North America for Mondelēz International. "We look forward to working with the Give & Go management team as they build on their leading position in the large and fast-growing in-store bakery channel."
Mondelēz will operate Give & Go separately in order to nurture its innovative and entrepreneurial spirit, the company said. Give & Go will benefit from access to Mondelēz International's consumer and channel insights, procurement, marketing and sales resources to expand the reach of its famous brands to more consumers. Give & Go's senior leadership team will retain a minority interest in the company and continue to run the business from their existing headquarters.
"This is a unique opportunity for Give & Go to join the Mondelēz International family and benefit from their capabilities to accelerate innovation, consumer engagement and strategic retail partnerships," said Joel Flatt, president and CEO, Give & Go. "We had a very successful partnership with THL and thank them for their support over the last three-and-a-half years."
PDI, global provider of ERP, fuel pricing, logistics and marketing cloud solutions is partnering with P97 Networks, a leader in cloud-based mobile commerce. The PDI Marketing Cloud Platform will integrate P97's PetroZone mobile commerce platform, enabling convenience retailers to create a frictionless customer experience.
PDI will also be a reseller for P97's mobile commerce platform, streamlining the process for implementing, launching and supporting a loyalty program.
PDI and P97, along with their joint customer Shell, are making it easier for drivers to save on fuel and pay with the Fuel Rewards program and the Shell app. At approximately 11,000 U.S. Shell sites, the Shell app provides a mobile payment experience with enhanced security and more ways to save with cents off per gallon fuel discounts at the pump and inside the store.
"We're excited to partner with P97 to provide integrated solutions inclusive of rewards, discounts and digital payments," said Brian Jefferson, senior vice president and general manager of retail, PDI marketing cloud solutions at PDI. "The launch of the Shell app with Shell Pay & Save validates the power of combining loyalty and mobile payments so that customers can easily earn rewards, pay and go."
Standex Refrigerated Solutions Group
Standex Refrigerated Solutions Group reached a definitive agreement to sell its Master-Bilt and Nor-Lake refrigeration businesses to Ten Oaks Group, a family office focused exclusively on corporate divestitures.
The deal was made after Standex assessed its portfolio and determined that the brands no longer align with its long term strategy, the company said. It will remain focused on business as usual, working with customers and channel partners to retain and grow opportunities for Master-Bilt and Nor-Lake, until the sale is completed.
The closing is expected to occur this spring.
Stuzo, a provider of personalized, frictionless commerce solutions for everyday spend categories, was awarded a Top Workplaces 2020 honor by The Philadelphia Inquirer. The award is based solely on employee feedback gathered privately and anonymously through a third-party survey administrator.
The survey measured 15 drivers of engaged cultures that are critical to the success of any organization, including factors such as alignment and execution.
"Our team is our greatest asset and we are thrilled that their words have afforded us the honor of being named a Top Workplace," said Gunter Pfau, founder and CEO, Stuzo. "Our past and continued success is due to the dedication, talent, and hard work of our team. We're beyond proud to have such an amazing group of people at Stuzo and we remain on a constant mission to further improve our culture, team, and business performance as driven by our company values."
Convenience distributor Team Sledd, broker BE Cubed LLC and SAMCO Financial partnered to introduce a new check casher machine to retailers across the country. The check cashing technology is aimed at serving a new and growing generation of consumers who need and desire an alternative to traditional banks for their check cashing needs.
The machine guarantees the ID of the consumer and the validity of the check in a few simple steps. Every check cashed is guaranteed to be good or SAMCO reimburses the c-store.
"This machine is more relevant right now than ever," said BE Cubed President Mitch McGovern. "With the combination of the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic and the U.S. government issuing checks, both un-banked consumers and banked consumers want a solution to access their money quickly, safely and without standing in lines at grocery and check cashing stores."