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Clarkston Consulting Senior Manager Shares Insights for the Convenience Store Retail Industry

July 10, 2024  | Clarkston’s Blake Weber, senior manager and retail technology industry expert, shared insights with Convenience Store News on the convenience store retail industry and how trust and transparency with distributors and suppliers are key as the marketplace changes. Read a few quotes from him below, and the full article here

Small Operators Stay Competitive With Strong Partnerships

The pandemic accelerated the need for greater access to real-time data to inform decision-making amid supply chain disruptions, labor shortages and decreases in consumer spending.

“While these challenges may have added tensions to some existing retailer/supplier relationships, overall we are seeing that they have actually driven collaboration and trust in the partnerships, large and small, as both sides have worked together to navigate these issues.”

Weber cited that exchanging inventory and forecast data is now providing advanced visibility to avoid retail stock-outs; outsourcing inventory management to suppliers and distributors is removing friction in the retail ordering process and ensuring shelves are quickly replenished; and collaborating on managing promotions and leveraging historical sales data is driving promotion efficiency and execution.

“As smaller c-store operators adjusted to industrywide changes, they have been exploring ways to lean into the supplier and distributor partnerships to achieve efficiencies in resourcing and costs,” he added. “Rather than selecting suppliers based on costs and margins, c-store operators are evaluating relationships more holistically through the lens of creating long-term, mutually beneficial — and profitable — partnerships that will ultimately provide the best experiences for their customers.”

The way Clarkston Consulting’s Weber sees it, the c-store industry is shifting away from being fuel-focused to being a destination for customers to buy fresh food and beverages, household items and quick-service meals.

“Retailers and suppliers can strengthen their relationships by embracing this change. Leveraging each of their data, they can collaborate on tailoring the assortment to bring new and innovative products to their local customer base and look for opportunities to innovate together across categories,” he advised.

Relationships between retailers of all sizes and their suppliers can also benefit from the adoption of new technologies that help drive operational efficiencies. Ultimately, Weber believes technology can simplify and/ or automate many of the back-and-forth exchanges in the future, driving down costs and improving profitability for both parties.