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Convenience spreading to the forecourt

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Convenience spreading to the forecourt

Last week our Vice President Marketing and Innovation Jo Stephenson and Rajesh Tandon, New Business Development Manager, attended the NACS conference on the Future of International Convenience 2013.
Jo and Rajesh met a lot of interesting people from a wide range of sectors but one meeting got us thinking about how the nature of convenience shopping was changing.
While exhibiting the LINPAC Freshware range Jo got chatting with the management team from FreshStop, a South African chain. These guys are mostly forecourt retailers but what we learned is that petrol as a category is essentially in decline due to more efficient cars and the move to diesel globally and therefore they’re moving from being petrol retailers to convenience retailers who happen to have petrol as a category.
In context Shell has 45,000 forecourts globally and are now looking at how to become effective retailers competing with the usual players – and we’re sure everyone has noticed how big the food offering is at the petrol forecourt with the likes of Spar and others expanding into this crucial retail space.
During NACS, FreshStop was named International Convenience Retailer of the Year 2013 for its innovation on the forecourt in South Africa.
As well as selling fuel FreshStop also offers a full range of hot foods, a deli, rotisserie chicken and full scratch bakery. The store has a large seating area with plasma screens where customers can catch up on the latest international news or relax with a cup of coffee.
This very much fits in with LINPAC Packaging thinking about the convenience food sector and the growing demand for Food On The Go – and what better place to grab a meal than at your roadside garage.
FreshStop offers a modern layout and the signage portrays a fresh and youthful image. For business people, there is free Wi-Fi, boardroom and meeting room facilities for hire plus a car wash and valet services to help them make the most efficient use of their time.
Own label is also to the fore in grocery products and managers are encouraged to source local produce. Pricing is competitive since FreshStop benefits form the large purchasing power of its holding company, Fruit and Veg City.
Marketing is strategically designed to appeal to a wide customer base. Advertisements, leaflets and POS are created on a monthly basis and customised to the local audience.
Technology is to the fore too. FreshStop has invested in mobile marketing campaigns and in-store digital signage, which integrates menu boards with location-based feeds. Social media is also deployed to inform customers about news and special events.
According to FreshStop, there is an opportunity for convenience stores in South Africa as hypermarkets and supermarkets are in decline. The prize is even greater for those offering a wide range of fresh foods and FreshStop’s basket size has benefited from this trend.
What do you think? Is this a trend we will see spreading across Europe?

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