Supplier Spotlights: Lula Convenience, Mars Wrigley, Relationshop & Swiftly

Other companies announcing initiatives and partnerships are AiFi, C-StoreMaster, Hunt Brothers Pizza, Kellogg Co. and Old Trapper.
Amanda Koprowski
Associate Editor
Amanda Koprowski profile picture

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 Retail Technology Innovation Hub (RTIH) named AiFi the winner of its 2022 Innovation Award in the Payments Innovation category.

The winning project was a Compass Group United Kingdom and Ireland store that implemented the retail artificial intelligence (AI) platform's autonomous computer vision technology. As the first completely frictionless store in the U.K. and across the entire food services sector in Europe, the AiFi store allows shoppers to purchase items without having to wait in line or stop to scan or pay.

"Our partnership with Compass Group … has changed the game for food services in the U.K.," said Steve Carlin, CEO of AiFi. "We're honored to be recognized by an industry leader in retail technology for our AI-powered solution."

AiFi has launched more than 100 stores around the world, including the deployment of more than half of its network with Poland's largest convenience store chain, Żabka. The company also works with other notable brands, such as ALDI, Carrefour, Choice Market, Sodexo and Live Nation.

In its fourth year, RTIH's Innovation Award celebrates global tech innovation in a fast-moving omnichannel world. The awards' winners and highly recommended companies were announced across 14 categories during a sold-out event in central London in December.

C-StoreMaster Warehouse Opening


Convenience store products distributor C-StoreMaster opened a 130,000-square-foot automated warehouse in Huntsville, Ala., with a celebration attended by leaders from both the convenience store industry and the local community.

C-StoreMaster partnered with Geek+ to incorporate three automation technologies in the new warehouse, improving picking accuracy to 99.99 percent. The robotic solutions include Geek+'s flagship P800 goods-to-person picking robots as well as its Roboshuttle.

The new warehouse design also kept employees top of mind in the creation of 30 new jobs. The robotic solutions eliminate the need to walk long distances or lift heavy goods for order fulfillment. Additionally, the warehouse includes sections that foster a healthy work environment, such as a workout area, pool table, air hockey, walking track and a bean-to-cup coffee offering, according to the company.

"To bring the first multilevel shuttle system of its kind in the country to Huntsville is a great accomplishment for our team," Sharan Kalva, C-StoreMaster president. "Innovation has always been at the forefront of our business and with this new warehouse, C-StoreMaster is set up for success for years to come."

To honor the warehouse opening and C-StoreMaster's dedication to advancing technology in Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey proclaimed Dec. 8 Technology Innovation Day

Hunt Bros. Buffalo Pizza

Hunt Brothers Pizza

Hunt Brothers Pizza brought back Buffalo Chicken Pizza, its most popular limited time offering, for participating store partners starting Jan. 23.

Since its introduction in 2009, the pizza's combination of buffalo wing sauce, ranch dressing and chicken has amassed a large following.

"We're so grateful to all of our store partners and their customers who express their excitement about the return of the fan-favorite Buffalo Chicken Pizza," said Dee Cleveland, Hunt Brothers Pizza director of marketing. "We hear from pizza lovers year-round about how much they enjoy this combination of flavors, and we're excited to bring it back for its 15th offering."

The Buffalo Chicken Pizza features Hunt Brothers Pizza's original crust topped with a combination of ranch dressing and buffalo wing sauce, a blend of 100 percent natural part-skim mozzarella and Monterey jack cheeses and diced chicken, all topped by a dash of Hunt Brothers Pizza's Just Rite Spice.

The pizza is available as either a whole 12-inch pie or a Hunk A Pizza (one-fourth of a pie) while supplies last.

Kellogg Co.

Kellogg's Cheez-It brand inked its first-ever name, image and likeness (NIL) deals with four college football athletes. The contract gave the players the opportunity to wake up in exclusive Cheez-It "Feelin' the Cheeziest" rooms at official team hotels ahead of the Cheez-It Bowl and Cheez-It Citrus Bowl held earlier this month.

The lineup of athletes in the deal were Mycah Pittman, wide receiver for Florida State University; Michael Turk, punter for the University of Oklahoma; Garrett Nussmeier, quarterback for Louisiana State University; and Tyrone Tracy Jr., wide receiver for Purdue University,

Contract perks for the signed athletes included the rooms decked out in floor-to-ceiling Cheez-It-inspired items, like an "I woke up 'Feelin' the Cheeziest, Coach!" alarm clock, inspirational Cheez-It-inspired artwork, Cheez-It rugs, and red and yellow bedding.

"As a brand who has continuously offered fans show-stopping experiences, we're excited to bring the action directly to four extremely talented college football athletes," said Erin Storm, brand senior director for Cheez-It. "We [couldn't] wait for Pittman, Turk, Nussmeier and Tracy Jr. to experience the magic of our 'Feelin' the Cheeziest' Hotel Rooms."

In addition to college athletes, Cheez-It has also been encouraging fans to experience their "Feeling the Cheeziest" rooms for themselves. Bowl pep rallies featured on-field room replicas, and in November 2022, the brand ran a contest giving participants an opportunity to stay in one of the suites at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.

Lula New Logo

Lula Convenience

Lula Delivery, an e-commerce platform for convenience stores that do not have a secondary sales channel, changed its name to Lula Convenience as a way to better communicate its mission statement and focus. It also introduced a new logo and new website domain to coincide with the change.

Over the past two years, Lula has provided last-mile delivery solutions for stores across the country, expanded to all 50 states and sold more than 1 million items through the Lula Store Platform. The new name is intended to emphasize the company's focus on the convenience industry as a whole, rather than just delivery

"Our mission is and always has been to empower convenience retail stores with an all-encompassing platform that connects the world to them, allowing them to delight their customers locally and beyond," the company said. "But as our vision for the future continued to expand, we too had to evolve our identity to adapt to this growth."

Lula also laid the groundwork for further initiatives throughout 2023, starting with the $5.5 million it raised in seed funding last year. It plans to expand its partnerships with convenience wholesalers to a national level and to partner with global brands and manufacturers to provide new ways for those brands to promote products and engage with e-commerce shoppers. Further core priorities include maximizing inventory and order efficiency in Lula Stores while reducing missed orders and cancellations through strategic partnerships with point-of-sale technology providers.

M&M's All Women Packaging

Mars Wrigley

In January, M&M's brand released its first-ever packs spotlighting female M&M's characters. The limited-edition products feature Purple, Brown and Green on inspirational packaging and are the first united representation of the female trio of spokescandies. The packs come as the next chapter for Mars' newest M&'M's character, Purple, featuring her not only on the exterior, but inside the packaging as well, alongside green and brown candies.

"The M&M's brand is on a mission to use the power of fun to create purposeful connections, as we work to create a world where everyone feels they belong," said Gabrielle Wesley, chief marketing officer at Mars Wrigley North America. "Women all over the world are flipping how they define success and happiness while challenging the status quo, so we're thrilled to be able to recognize and celebrate them — and who better to help us on that mission than our own powerhouse spokescandies Green, Brown and Purple?"

In celebration of the limited-edition packs, M&M's will support organizations that are committed to uplifting and empowering women. One dollar from every pack sold (totaling $500,000) will go towards supporting women via strategic partnerships with She is the Music and We are Moving the Needle. Outside of the limited-edition packs, additional donations (totaling $300,000) will be made to the Female Founder Collective, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and others working to flip the status quo.

Additionally, M&M's is promoting individual women who are pushing boundaries in creative spaces, teaming up with creators to design original content inspired by each of the candy's female characters. Those artists include hip-hop musicians Aint Afraid, streetwear designer Ashlee Muhammad, creative director Barbiana Liu, graffiti artist Ledania and cake sculptor Liz Marek.

Mars later announced a pause in the use of spokescandies as actress Maya Rudolph steps in as the newly created role "Chief of Fun." Rudolph will use her comedic talents and personality to help M&M's build on its mission to create a world where everyone feels they belong, according to the company. Her first appearance with the brand will be in M&M's upcoming Super Bowl LVII campaign.

Old Trapper

Beef jerky manufacturer Old Trapper renewed its partnership with CBS Sports Network for the 2022-2023 college basketball season. As part of the contract, Old Trapper will be the presenting sponsor of live college basketball coverage one night per week on CBS Sports Network, surrounding some of the top matchups of the season.

"This is our sixth consecutive year as a key sponsor of college basketball on CBS Sports Network. Partnering with CBS … and cheering on the teams is always one of our favorite times of year," said Robert Leary, chief marketing officer at Old Trapper. "We look forward to keeping athletes and fans fueled up with our delicious beef jerky as the teams battle it out on the courts throughout the 2023 season."

Old Trapper beef jerky will also be spotlighted in Player of the Game features during live college basketball games and "Inside College Basketball" studio coverage. These features will run throughout both the regular season and bracket week.


Relationshop, a digital engagement platform for retail chains, acquired, an e-commerce solution for regional grocers. The purchase will create a unified i-commerce platform, combining operations with data analytics and omnichannel engagement capabilities to increase transactions, enhance loyalty and grow sales.

The new entity will be called, a Relationshop company. was founded in Israel in 2014 and provides solutions for some of the top grocery chains in Israel. Today, the company has over 100 grocery customers in the United States and more than 200 customers globally.

Relationshop's digital experience platform offers grocers omnichannel engagement and personalization tools for health and nutrition, rewards programs, email marketing, digital circulars, and data analytics for both online and offline customers. The platform is deployed in 11 regional grocery brands across the U.S., including chains such as Albertsons, United Supermarkets and Big Y Foods.

"This acquisition gives retailers the ability to advance beyond e-commerce to i-commerce," said Galen Waters, CEO of Relationshop. "We believe that for regional retailers to compete with Walmart, Instacart, Kroger [or] Amazon, they need a unified technology platform [to drive] all commerce. By merging the Relationshop shopper engagement and personalization suite with the e-commerce and fulfillment platform of, our clients will be able to provide a frictionless digital shopping experience to their customers."

Post-closing, Waters will serve as CEO of A 50-year veteran of the retail industry, he established Relationshop in 2007 under the name Go Think!. Mendel Gniwisch, former CEO of, will serve as president and member of the board and will focus his attention on further merger-and-acquisition opportunities and international operations.


Retail technology company Swiftly released its new SMB platform, democratizing access for more than 15,000 small-to-medium sized brick-and-mortar retailers (SMBs). The launch brings Swiftly's network of retailers to more than 25,000 stores nationwide, representing over 12 percent of the grocery and convenience store locations in the U.S.

Swiftly worked in conjunction with two launch partners, Alliance Retail Group (ARG) and Skupos. The stores received a portfolio of retail tools and solutions to own their digital customer relationship with an enterprise grade platform, while offering advertisers potential access to the largest network of stores in the country.

Though many retailers understand the need for digital solutions to compete against big box stores, they have historically been limited by a lack of financial and engineering resources, according to the company. The new low-cost platform aims to not only address those challenges but create solutions for SMBs in the wake of looming consolidations like that of Kroger and Albertsons, which is expected to bring nearly 5,000 stores together under one company umbrella.

"Competition and technical complexity make it harder than ever for brick-and-mortar retailers to stand out to consumers," said Henry Kim, co-founder and CEO of Swiftly. "The launch of our platform, and the subsequent partnerships with ARG and Skupos, are reinforcing our mission to democratize retail technology for … stores across the country."

By giving SMBs access to the technology and tools they need to drive new revenue streams with faster speed to market and little to no upfront cost, Swiftly believes the scales will tip more evenly in favor of smaller retailers.

"We are putting our independent grocers on a level playing field with companies like Walmart, so that they can own their digital customer relationships and capture valuable digital advertising revenue streams," said Mike Bokarae, chief development officer at ARG. "With industry consolidation on the horizon, time is of the essence. Our independent grocers can now leverage their advantages in speed and nimbleness and the power of the network that Swiftly and ARG represent to outmaneuver the competition."

About the Author

Amanda Koprowski
Amanda Koprowski is the associate editor at Convenience Store News. She is a new member of the team, having joined the company in December of 2022. Read More