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Major Trends within Convenience Retail

Shopping wall

With an increasing number of consumers shopping little and often, the world of convenience retail has not only experienced growth but also change. There have been a number of key developments within the convenience store sector including:

  1. Expansion
  2. Food to Go
  3. Click and Collect
  4. Integrated online shopping experience



The growth of convenience has not gone unnoticed by the multiples and this has meant that they have sought to expand within the convenience sector, acquiring sites in order to capitalise on the convenience industry. We have seen this in the UK with Morrison’s MLocal as well as Sainsbury’s Local (amongst others). However, this development is not just limited to the UK.  Multiples such as Reitan and Valora in Europe have also grasped this opportunity. They have expanded through acquisition, with 72.3% and 85.0% year on year uplift in store numbers respectively in the year to June 2012 [Verdict Retail ‘European Convenience Retail].

Food To Go

Increasingly consumers are turning to their convenience stores to grab a quick bite, be it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Convenience stores have come on leaps and bounds within this category, creating stores whose sole purpose is food to go, with express check outs and in-store microwaves. There has also been a shift in competition with some c-stores viewing McDonald’s and Starbucks as the main competitors to their food to go options.

Click and Collect

Many convenience stores have taken advantage of integrating online shopping within their stores. Click and collect offers customers the opportunity to order items online but then to collect them from a locker within a c-store. There is then the possibility for them to stock up on any items they may need at home within the store.

Integrated Shopping Experiences

Further ahead, convenience stores are at looking at enticing customers through shopping walls in areas such as train stations. Customers can then choose items on the wall via an app which they can then pick up at the end of their commute. The walls are also designed to encourage customers to plan their next meal and what they need to buy.


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PayPal Beacon to beam automatic, hands-free mobile payments

PayPal Beacon“PayPal Beacon opens the door to a fundamentally different way to use technology to make shopping more valuable and more personal for consumers and retailers,” said David Marcus, president of PayPal.

So while swiping and tapping cards may have only recently become a norm for most, PayPal is pushing for more – or less, so to speak.

“We challenged ourselves to find a better experience than swiping a credit card. We figured the only better way to pay would be to do nothing,” he said.

“Just walk in a store, and, like magic, when you’re ready to pay, money is transferred securely. No wallet. No card. Nothing to do. Not even touching your phone.”

Hands-free payment

According to PayPal, on the merchants end, Beacon is a simple add-on USB to any Point-of-Sale systems that are compatible with PayPal.

Users will have the option to set which stores they automatically get checked into (as in your usual morning coffee shop), which ones will have automatic payments and which will require approval for payments.

“Consumers will have full control of stores they will want to check in to, those they will want to get prompted to confirm payment for, and stores they will want to enable a complete hands-free experience for,” PayPal said.

PayPal also assures us that customer’s won’t be tracked and unless you check-in, no information will be passed onto PayPal or the merchant.

While all this hands-free shopping sounds very exciting, the Beacon device won’t be ready for merchants until next year.

And of course, there may also be hiccups with wrongful charges or customers walking away without paying, but we’d assume all these will be ironed out by PayPal by next year.


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What’s to be Learned From the Case of Jamie Oliver and 30,000 Missing Napkins?

Jamie Oliver's napkins

Upon discovering that Jamie Oliver loses 30,000 napkins a month to petty-theft, I could not help but feel slightly disappointed. Did no one, for example, have the imagination to pinch all occurrences of the letter ‘S’ from his menus? Or perhaps his well-thumbed edition of ‘The Little Book of Right Pukka Mockney Vocabulary… Guvnor’? It was also dispiriting to learn that someone who strives to model himself on a cross between the Artful Dodger and Pete Beale should so willingly turn grass and start squealing.

Jamie, mistakenly, put this spate of kleptomania down to the recession, but it is nothing new. Back when business was booming and everyone had their pockets stuffed with enough £50 notes not to bother with the napkins, Quaglino’s found their ashtrays proved just as popular amongst London’s light-fingered diners. They estimated to have lost more than 25,000 of the Terence Conran-designed ashtrays which went on to acquire cult status among foodies and aesthetes alike. At the time Quaglino’s turned this misfortune into a PR opportunity, launching an ashtray amnesty in the Evening Standard offering a free glass of bubbly for every ashtray returned. Incidentally few made their way home.

It really isn’t that uncommon. Who can honestly say that, after one too many, they haven’t wandered home with a pint glass, slipped the salt shaker in the pocket of an unsuspecting friend, or disconnected a toilet and worn it home as a hat? Anyone? No, me neither.

It is just one of many behind the scenes costs restaurants incur to which the majority of customers are completely oblivious. We have all felt that pang of outrage when, perusing the wine list you notice a bottle you saw in the supermarket a week earlier at less than half the price. But it’s easy to forget that restaurateurs have to pay for a waiter to recommend and pour the wine, the table you’re sitting at to drink it and the glass you sip it from. In a fortnight’s time that very same glass will wander off in a handbag in the name of hen party high-jinx.

A successful restaurateur has to consider a vast number of differentials and somehow, turn it all into a profit. Factoring in the changing price of ingredients, kitchen equipment wear-and-tear, special offers, staff and the rent on a high-profile location requires careful consideration. If like, Jamie Oliver, you operate restaurants up and down the country and have a number of best-selling cookery books, then you can probably afford to lose the occasional napkin. What’s more the bigger boys normally have complex back-end systems in place that can take on board variables in price and react accordingly. Through the advent of cloud computing, these systems are becoming more widely available throughout the sector and it’s not before time.

Unless smaller restaurants can maintain control of these myriad costs, while simultaneously fending off grasping revellers, hell-bent on relieving them of anything they can fit in their pockets, bags or feasibly pass off as a hat, then they will struggle to stay in business. The demise of small independent restaurants would be a considerable loss and, I believe, the final nail in the High Street’s coffin.

Steven Hope, Co-founder and Director of etc hospitality

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showroomingWhat is showrooming? Simply put it’s when consumers go into a high street shop and browse the products on offer but then go and buy online. 43% of UK consumers are now using showrooming. It’s frustrating for retailers but its here to stay and if you can’t fight it, join it. Here’s a great article providing retailers with some useful tips on how to make the best of showrooming. Tips range from having a digitally enabled store to providing customers with product reviews and ensuring that staff are knowledgeable on the products on offer.

Let us know if you have any tactics which you are using to combat showrooming.

Read the article here:

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Five Tricks for Remembering Names

Remembering NamesFor small and independent retailers a major competitive advantage is the “one-to-one” relationship that can be created with customers.

And the first step to a “one-to-one” relationship is to know someone’s name. It is often said, that the most beautiful and powerful word to any person is their own name. So we found an interesting article to help you remember people’s names both for your retail shop and general social situations.

“1) Don’t psych yourself out.
Most people tend to believe that they have a bad memory for names. If you walk into a new situation convinced that you won’t remember names, the extra stress will ensure that you probably won’t. Instead, go in believing that the room contains at least a couple of people whose names you can and will remember.

2) Slow down and take it easy.
Part of the reason names escape us is because there’s usually a lot of activity going on around us while we’re meeting new people. Loud parties, conferences and restaurants don’t make it easier to remember a blur of names during introductions. Take a moment during introductions to make sure you get a person’s name right. Repeat the names while making eye contact with each person.

3) Ask questions.
Ask a question about the person’s first or last name. Where are they from? Is there a story behind their name? If the name is difficult to pronounce, repeat it slowly and let the person correct you until you get it right. This will help you remember it, but it also serves the purpose of ensuring that someone knows you care enough to get it right. As business becomes more global, this is critically important.

4) Use a person’s name.
During conversation, use the person’s name as often as is comfortable. They will appreciate the attention and saying it out loud will help to solidify the name in your mind, which will make it easier to put a name with a face later.

5) Create an image.
Try to create an image associated with a person’s name. Sometimes it’s simple, like when you meet a Bill Baker and you imagine him in a chef hat holding a tray of chocolate cupcakes with dollar bills folded into the icing. Other times, you need to be creative to find a way to associate an image with a name. No matter how challenging a name may seem, you can break it down into phonetic syllables and create images that get close enough for your brain to remember the association.

For example, say you meet a Rahul Banerjee at a conference. The name Rahul can be translated to the image of “raw wool” freshly sheared from a sheep in your memory. Banerjee can be pictured as a banner with a picture of a “G” or a jeep on it. These images seem weird–but the stranger they are the more your brain will remember them due to the novelty. Remember, these images exist in your mind only and don’t need to be revealed to anyone. They are there only for your benefit.

Note: Chris and James put their memory skills to work to create Memory Layer, which just released a white paper (click here to request a free copy), “Memory and Advertising: Message Clarity, Principles and Tactics to Hack the Hippocampus” for ad agencies and brands. For more memory tips and information, follow @MemoryLayer on Twitter.”

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Silicon Valley startup eliminates paper receipts and helps retailers increase customer loyalty

Proximiant, a provider of tap and go digital receipts, launched today, introducing a private and secure way for retailers and shoppers to track purchases and earn loyalty rewards, cash rebates and coupons without paper receipts, time-consuming signup requirements or membership cards.

Retailers of any size are now able to provide customers immediate access to a variety of programs using a phone-sized USB interface transceiver from Proximiant. The free transceiver easily plugs into a store’s computerized point-of-sale system (POS) and launches within two minutes.

The transceiver’s built-in technology allows it to communicate directly with mobile phones having a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip. When consumers shop at participating stores, they can tap their NFC-enabled phones on the transceiver devices to directly collect a digital copy of their receipt and loyalty rewards.

Much attention in the NFC space has been on mobile payment applications. Proximiant focuses on enhancing the shopping experience by providing itemized receipts for easy tracking of purchases, loyalty programs and coupons, regardless how they pay.

Until the NFC-enabled phones are widely available, Proximiant is offering a bridge solution via a small tag that can be carried in a wallet or put on a key chain to allow shoppers the same tap-and-go capability.

Customers also serve to benefit from this technology through the secure “Digital Receipts” mobile app, which records all their purchases at the time of sale, so they can manage their personal spending, collect loyalty points, cash back as well as the convenience of not having to carry around paper receipts. In addition, they won’t need to provide stores with any personal information, thereby safeguarding their privacy. All loyalty points and offers can be directly redeemed at participating stores using their mobile phones.

Other benefits for consumers include:

  • Rewards, refunds and exchanges without a special loyalty card or paper receipt since images with necessary data and bar codes show up on their app.
  • Ability to quickly access old receipts by inputting the store name or product keywords.
  • Receipts that remain completely private and secure.
  • Access to Proximiant’s Web interface for receipts on their computer when they register their Poximiant account.
  • Help the environment go green by no longer using paper receipts.

“The product is a win-win for both retailers and consumers,” said Proximiant co-founder and CEO Fang Cheng. “Proximiant is the most efficient and secure way for retailers to extend their existing point of sale to an array of mobile loyalty and marketing programs without any IT overhead or customer signup process. For consumers, it makes shopping much more enjoyable and less of a hassle. The device saves companies an overhead investment and it saves customers from the time-consuming and expensive signup process.”

Cheng and co-founders Edwin Evans and Thomas Ahn, both Vice Presidents of Engineering, gave Proximiant its name to transmit the message that merchants and customers are now in much closer proximity to one another.

To date, Proximiant has signed up a dozen stores in the San Francisco area and expects the number to increase as it rolls out more trials later this month and throughout December.

“We’ve gone with a small trial launch to ensure everything is running smoothly,” Cheng said. “We expect to have about 50 retailers by year’s end, mostly in the Bay area. By spring of 2012, we envision the device being in multiple metropolitan areas.”

Consumers can download the “Digital Receipts” app in the Apple iTunes Store or Android Market. Here’s a brief video of how Proximiant works.