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:
Financial Information Technologies LLC (Fintech) renewed its strategic partnership with the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA). Since 2014, Fintech added nearly 150 NBWA members to its beverage alcohol management program and rebated hundreds of thousands of dollars to NBWA and its members. Fintech has also worked closely with NBWA Chief Economist Lester Jones to bring insights into beer industry data through Fintech's InfoSource, presenting the information through partnered content.
"For the last seven years Fintech has been an outstanding partner to NBWA, and I'm excited to see that relationship continue," said NBWA President and CEO Craig Purser. "Fintech has been providing tremendous value to NBWA members for years, but that value was never more evident than during this past year. Their ability to help distributors execute safe, contactless commerce throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been a huge help in keeping the supply chain moving forward."
In addition to continued joint marketing efforts and participation in the NBWA Annual Convention, the new three-year agreement affords NBWA members a discount on annual Fintech support and maintenance fees. The new contract also doubles the existing growth rebate for eligible distributors as they grow their retailer network through Fintech.
"We are honored to renew our partnership with NBWA. They're a great organization, and they truly mirror our passion for providing cutting-edge resources to the beer industry," said Tad Phelps, CEO of Fintech. "This relationship affords both Fintech and NBWA the opportunity to grow our networks and help distributors nationwide improve operational efficiencies and data insights."
THE HERSHEY CO.
Hershey's Cadbury brand launched the third annual Cadbury Bunny Tryouts. Entries closed March 1 and voting is taking place March 10-17 leading up to the reveal of the winner on March 23. The new Cadbury Bunny will grace screens across America later this year as the new star of the iconic Cadbury Clucking Bunny commercial. The winner will also receive a $5,000 cash prize.
"Coming off a year of ample quality pet time, and a record year for animals joining new families, we are anxious to see what the competition brings," said Trevor Jakubek, senior associate brand manager, Cadbury Brand team. "We plan to make 2021 the biggest and best Cadbury Bunny Tryouts yet."
To give back to the animals that brought people joy over the past year, Cadbury is continuing its work with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) for the third year. The brand will donate $15,000 to the ASPCA to further its mission of protecting and caring for animals.
"Each year, the Cadbury Bunny Tryouts showcases adorable pets from around the country, demonstrating the loving bonds between people and their pets," said Rebecca Frommer, director, Cause Partnerships & Events, ASPCA. "We are grateful for the generous support we've received from Cadbury over the past three years, which has helped us continue our lifesaving work to rescue and protect animals in need."
Invenco, a provider of self-service payment technology and secure customer engagement solutions, agreed to cooperate with Verifone on interoperability of Invenco’s G6 and G7 Outdoor Payment Terminals with certain versions of Verifone's Commander point-of-sale software. This will enable retail fuel sites that use both Invenco and Verifone products to receive ongoing support for the interoperability of their Invenco terminals when used with Verifone's Commander software.
The Invenco and Verifone products each follow the Conexxus forecourt payment terminal protocol for pay-at-pump and inside store system communication.
“We are improving accessibility to the Invenco-i2 program at a critical time," said Invenco CEO John Scott. "With over 60 percent of the U.S. market not yet converted to outdoor EMV compliance, retailers can be confident their Invenco and Verifone systems are enabled to solve for EMV now, while growing together with aligned versions and support services moving forward.”
The Invenco-i2 program offers a low-cost terminal to meet outdoor EMV compliance while upgrading the forecourt experience, according to the company. The fixed-rate monthly fee includes rental of the G6 outdoor payment terminal plus all additional equipment, services and compliance management needed for outdoor payments.
MacFarms, in conjunction with its Royal Hawaiian Orchards macadamia nut brand, announced that it made several strides in 2020 despite the pandemic and has plans to grow its plant-based mission in 2021. As a part of its strategy to expand in the plant-based superfood space, its' parent company Health & Plant Protein Group Ltd. (HPP) has co-invested in LAVVA nut milks and yogurts.
LAVVA uses the pili nut and other real food ingredients to create delicious, functional foods. Since its founding, it has grown quickly and is now distributed through several major U.S. retail networks.
"We worked really hard last year to achieve broader company goals, and we are really proud of the co-investment in LAVVA and its nut-based products. It is an ideal addition to the HPP portfolio and is a great complement to our plant driven focus," said K.C. Blinn, general manager of sales and marketing. "This, along with our record sales and a clear vision for growth through 2021, is what will continue to drive our efforts toward advancing plant-based solutions for a growing health-conscious world."
ParTech added XPR to its Brink point-of-sale (POS) integration ecosystem as a partner specializing in self-serve kiosks, contactless food ordering, KDS and content management services. ParTech is a wholly owned subsidiary of PAR Technology Corp.
XPR delivers innovative solutions to the hospitality industry, including fast casual, table service and quick-service restaurant locations, through cloud-based and artificial intelligence-supported methods. The company's integration with Brink POS will enable PAR's customers to add XPR's contactless ordering and self-ordering kiosks to their operations while still maintaining existing backend infrastructure. Using its multi-touchpoint ecosystem, XPR's solutions provide guests with a fast, interactive, and engaging ordering experience while cutting labor costs, according to the company.
"Adding XPR to the company's growing integration partner ecosystem opens up new possibilities for Brink POS customers hoping to take advantage of innovative ordering methods," said Stephen Lee, PAR's director of strategic partnerships. "With XPR, we're now offering our customers a chance to explore new ways of bolstering their bottom lines. This has been a difficult year for the restaurant industry, so anytime our customers have a chance to improve operational efficiency and cut down on labor costs while still providing guests with a special one-of-a-kind experience, we want to make it happen."
PepsiCo announced 10 finalists from around the world in the fifth annual Greenhouse Accelerator, a mentor-guided program that supports the acceleration of the latest innovators who seek to transform the ways consumers eat, drink and live their lives. Each of the participating companies will receive $20,000 in grant funding and begin a six-month business program designed to accelerate their growth through personalized mentorship.
"We're excited to evolve our Greenhouse Accelerator program to new areas including cutting-edge science and technology," said Daniel Grubbs, managing director, PepsiCo Ventures Group. "We have a lot to learn from this group and look forward to collaborating closely with these 10 innovators who are changing the game through personalization, emerging technologies, and unique services and ingredients."
The 10 innovators will receive personalized mentorship from experts at PepsiCo across functions including research and development (R&D), supply chain and design. Mentors will collaborate with the companies to solve a range of business challenges, including business model development, scaling technology and go-to-market strategy. In June, one company will be awarded an additional $100,000 in funding to continue its growth.
"There's no question that COVID-19 has renewed consumer interest in taking control of their personal health and wellness, and we continue to explore how this evolves in the food and beverage space," said Antonio Tataranni, senior vice president, R&D, and chief medical officer, PepsiCo. "Our [R&D] team continues to look for emerging and disruptive solutions that address consumer needs, such as creative innovations in personalized nutrition, functional foods and supplements, and new technologies that enable vitality."
The 10 finalists are:
LifeNome - Ask Sophie
Prairie Farms Dairy announced that it closed 2020 with significant volume growth in nearly all dairy categories at grocery stores and other retail outlets. This was partially driven by the sizable change in eating-at-home vs. away-from-home habits consumers developed during the pandemic.
Products in the baking/cooking category, such as butter, half & half and cream cheese, increased by 60 percent during the early pandemic months, with a year-over-year gain of nearly 40 percent. In the frozen category, Prairie Farms ice cream and North Star frozen treats saw an average gain of 40 percent in the early pandemic months.
"As the COVID-19 crisis unfolded, consumers turned to trusted and familiar brands to meet their needs. When pantry stocking began in March, we did our part to keep our retail partners' dairy cases filled without interruption. In turn, consumers rewarded our brand by stocking up on Prairie Farms' products," said Rebecca Leinenbach, vice president of marketing and communications for Prairie Farms. "Many behaviors adopted during the pandemic will likely continue in 2021, and we will build on the upward momentum by adding new products to our portfolio."
siffron and Mobile Tech Inc. (MTI) are leveraging their combined 100 years of retail industry experience and product portfolios to bring retail innovation and intelligent solutions to their customers. The partnership will enhance each brand's business with integrated products and a full suite of solutions to improve the customer experience, according to the announcement.
"siffron is laser-focused on innovation and providing total retail solutions," said Brent Ewing, siffron vice president of Product Development and Strategic Partnerships. "This partnership with MTI will provide retailers with smart solutions that provide the insights and tools they need to grow their businesses."
The partnership combines intelligent security hardware with cloud-based software to create real-time visibility into merchandised product performance. These solutions empower employees to service customers while reducing product shrinkage.
"MTI's partnership with siffron creates a richer experience for retailers and their customers by drawing upon our collective deep retail expertise and complementary products and services," said Mary Jesse, CEO of MTI. "Our teams are completely aligned and enthusiastic about the opportunities we have to delight our customers together."
Stuzo named Kount, a provider of fraud protection solutions, as a preferred fraud protection partner for Stuzo's Open Commerce product suite and for custom commerce, loyalty, and mobile storefront software built by Stuzo's enterprise Managed Software Services team.
"Kount is a leader in helping retailers protect the entire customer journey – from account creation and login to payments and disputes," said Jake Kiser, chief customer officer at Stuzo. "With Kount integrated into our Open Commerce product suite, our retail partners will benefit from reduced chargebacks, manual reviews, and false positives which will in turn increase approval rates and revenue."
The partnership ensures that retail customers have direct access to capabilities for mitigating fraud and establishing identity trust in real time, with AI-driven protection. According to Kount research, 58 percent of businesses are investing in improving the customer experience, but only 34 percent are anticipating emerging fraud. The new partnership helps retailers scale their digital innovations while protecting them from fraud.
"Stuzo is a leader in contactless commerce and customer activation technology in the fuel and convenience retail industry," said Tom War, chief sales officer, Kount. "We are confident that our combined offering built around both organizations' unique strengths and differentiated product capabilities will help Stuzo's retail partners automate decision making and increase operational efficiencies, by delivering secure, frictionless user experiences."