Blog - Convenience Store


Wal-Mart is in the Game

Posted Fri, May 9, 2014

Last month, Wal-Mart opened its first convenience store. The new Arkansas store is stocked full of convenience items from packaged groceries and non-food items to fresh sandwiches, pizzas, fruit and a walk-in beer cooler. A unique canopy covers the site's six fuel dispensers, extending from the pumps to the store entrance.

Wal-Mart dominates the supercenters with a 25 percent market share of the $585 billion industry. But they have also seen recent success with the smaller store, quick trip concepts like Wal-Mart Neighborhood market and Wal-Mart Express. Currently Wal-Mart holds 10 percent of the $415 billion quick trip market share, a percentage they are aggressively working to increase. Wal-Mart plans to nearly double the small store rollout within the year, representing 320 percent growth between fiscal years 2011 to 2015.*

Wal-Mart How can an independent c-store owner compete with prices as low as Wal-Mart's? How will independents remain viable and relevant to customers in this ever-evolving retail environment? It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that large chains are doing something right. So how do they do it?

Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon says it plainly, "Customers' shopping habits are changing more rapidly than ever before. We must be more nimble and flexible as we operate our business to adapt to these changes...We have much to achieve this year, and this will inevitably include change."

In order to remain competitive, change is not a luxury€ it is a necessity. What do you need to change in the way you operate your business? Are you getting the best prices possible from all of your vendors? Or are you too comfortable, apprehensive or unwilling to go through the hassle of change?

It is time to evaluate your operating efficiencies, cut costs and maximize profits. When you have an opportunity to save money, you need to take it. If you don't, someone else will.

*Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT), Raymond James 35th Annual Institutional Investors Conference

Posted in : Industry News |  No Comments >>
Tags : Wal-Mart , convenience store , change , competition , independent operator , c-store

The Importance of a Walk-through

Posted Tue, September 24, 2013

What is the first thing you do when you pull up to your store in the morning? Unlock it - flip over the “Open” sign, maybe grab a cup of coffee and start counting cash?

Here’s a little tip for your morning routine that might take you five minutes, but will make you new and returning customers. And what do returning customers mean for you? MONEY. Lots of money. Cleanliness is the easiest, most inexpensive way to gain and retain customers.

So here’s the tip: take a daily morning walk-through as if you were the customer.

The walk-through allows you to see your store through the eyes of your current and prospective customers. And their decision to shop at your store begins before they even pull into your lot.

Here are some key areas to quickly survey first-thing each morning (Remember, this is from a customer’s perspective!):

Is the grass mowed? Is trash blowing around the parking lot? Are there oil stains and old gum on the parking lot and sidewalks? Are parking spaces identified with yellow lines? Are the doors and windows cluttered with advertisements so I can’t see inside?

Is there graffiti, grease, or grime on the pumps/nozzles? Are the pumps bagged off? Are the trash receptacles overflowing?

Are they clean? Are there adequate paper towels and toilet paper? Is the mirror clean and free of cracks? Are light bulbs burnt out or flickering? Is the odor foul or pleasing?
For the love of all living things…We want clean restrooms!

Are the floors mopped and swept? Is the store layout fluid and easy to navigate (i.e. are cardboard promotional shippers crowding my way)? Are the shelves dusted? Have the walk-in shelves been stocked? Are the fountain/coffee areas clean, inviting, and organized?

Are the cashiers friendly? Do they look approachable? Are they wearing uniforms? Are the uniforms clean? Are they counting change back to customers? Do they greet customers and thank them for their business?

If, after reading this, you are slightly overwhelmed with the amount of progress to be made, let me offer you some solace: the purpose of the morning walk-through is not to fix everything right then and there. It is to acknowledge that there is room for improvement. Carry a small notepad in your pocket and make note of the issues. Then try to mark a few things off every day.

And here’s another idea. Bring your employees in on the fun as well. Once you have set the bar higher on your expectations of cleanliness and organization for your store, have them survey the store too. Give them the opportunity to find areas of improvement and work to resolve those issues. You will find that your employees will take pride in your store’s presentation, which will also lead to greater job satisfaction.

Do any of you practice the morning walk-through? Comment on this post and share your success stories with us!

Posted By:
Ben Bowman
CSA Regional C-store Consultant
South Central Region

Posted in : CSA Best Practices |  No Comments >>
Tags : walk-through , tips , best practice , c-store , convenience store , appearance , cleanliness , employees

Markup V. Margin

Posted Wed, July 17, 2013

A common mistake by retailers is to confuse markup and margin. This confusion can result in lower-than-expected profits. Here are some tips on how to keep them straight, and a little advice on which to use.

To start, it's important to know that "margin" is frequently referred to as "GP%" or "Gross Profit Percentage." Your vendors probably use GP% on your invoices instead of margin. I use the term "margin" here, but know that GP% and margin mean the same thing.

The mistake I see most often is a retailer calculating a markup, but thinking he or she is calculating margin. The mistake might look something like this:

An item has a $1.00 cost and the retailer wants a 30% margin. He or she quickly calculates:
$1.00 X 30% = $.30, and assigns a retail of $1.30 ($1.00 + $.30).

But that's a 30% markup. It's NOT a 30% margin. The margin in this case is actually 23%...A BIG difference. Below are a few formulas to help you calculate retails so you get what you expect.

If you know your cost and desired margin, here's how to calculate your retail:
Cost ÷ (1 - Desired margin %) = Retail

Example with $2.00 cost and a 30% desired margin: $2.00 ÷ (1 - .30) = $2.86 retail
You might round $2.86 to $2.89 for a more natural price point (and a few extra pennies of profit).

If you know your cost and your retail, here's how to calculate your margin:
(Retail - Cost) ÷ Retail = Margin

Example with $2.79 retail and a $1.50 cost: ($2.79 - $1.50)  ÷ $2.79 = 46% Margin

If you know your cost and desired markup, here's how to calculate your retail:
(Cost X Desired markup %) + Cost = Retail

Example with $1.00 cost and 30% desired markup: ($1.00 X .30) + $1.00 = $1.30

Margin vs. Markup for calculating retails
In my opinion, it is better to use margin than markup. When reviewing financials at the end of a period, most retailers look at their margin as they evaluate performance. You're more likely to hit the right margin at the end of the period if you use margin to calculate your retails day to day.

A final word
Setting retails based solely on a desired margin is usually a mistake. Take some time to understand your competition's retails and the customers who shop (and might shop) your store before you make pricing decisions. More on this and techniques for raising your store's overall margin and profits in an upcoming blog.

Posted By:
Eric Johnson
CSA Regional C-store Consultant
Pacific Northwest Region

Posted in : CSA Best Practices |  No Comments >>
Tags : margin , markup , markup v margin , convenience store alliance , industry best practices , CSA best practices

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