Convenience Stores: How To Sell Your New Product To C-Store Retailers and Distributors
Selling your new beverage or unique product to convenience stores is extremely lucrative when you understand the amount of consumers that shop in c-stores...
There are over 152,000 C-stores in the US... with the majority being independent-store owned operators.
The convenience store industry continues to be dominated by single-store operators, which account for 62.9 percent of all convenience stores (93,819 stores in total), with a growth rate of 0.7 percent matching the industry's growth.
Understanding that the majority of c-stores in the US are not corporate owned means you have an easier route to market.
C-stores are known to carry the newest and most innovative beverages which make them a destination for consumers that are seeking out new beverages.
If you have a new beverage or convenient product, starting out in the c-store channel is not only easier, faster and cost effective, but you are showcasing your beverage in front of millions of consumers on a daily basis.
Why Do C-Stores and Beverages make such a good match?
Beverages are considered one of the fastest selling items in a convenience store accounting for over one third of overall c-store sales because they are known as a beverage destination.
The majority of new beverages are initially sampled in c-stores because they can be purchased cold and in single serve packaging and the pricing is sometimes lower than other channels.
Convenience Stores are Everywhere!
The U.S. convenience store count increased to a record 149,220 stores as of December 31, 2012, a 0.7% increase (1,094 stores) from the year prior, according to the latest NACS/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store Count...the number now is over 152,000.
An average store selling fuel has around 1,100 customers per day, which equates to more than 400,000 per year.
Just imagine the amount of volume you can move if your product is in-front of 1,100 customers per day in just one location.
Cumulatively, the U.S. convenience store industry alone serves nearly 160 million customers per day, and 58 billion customers every year.
Convenience stores continue to grow as more and more c-stores add food-service offerings to attract new consumers.
How To Sell Your Product to a C-Store
Selling your new product to a c-store requires you to present your new product to a retail buyer or store owner.
There are multiple ways of presenting your new product to a retail buyer or store owner.
One of the best ways is by selling your product to a wholesale distributor or beverage distributor that has relationships with thousands of c-store accounts.
Attending a c-store tradeshow or calling them is a way to get in contact with them.
You can also Advertise your product in Trade magazines such as Bevnet, Cstore Decisions or CSP. Retail owners and distributors read these trade magazines to find new products and ideas to grow their business.
A method that I used to sell millions of units in the first year to thousands of c-stores was by picking up the phone and calling the retail buyers directly.
Click here if you would like to sell your new product to thousands of c-stores at a Tradeshow
How to Go To Market and Sell Your Product To C-Stores
The fastest way to sell your product to thousands of c-stores, is to use an established wholesaler, distributor or buying group.
You need to leverage their relationships to place your product in the retail accounts they are currently servicing.
There are broad line distributors such as Mclanes and Core-Mark that specialize in delivering various products to c-stores.
DSD beverage distributors are considered the best distributors to go to market when you have a new beverage product because a new beverage needs to be properly merchandised in a retail account.
When you are competing with hundreds of established beverage brands, you will need a dedicated person to make sure that your product gets in the cooler and stays in the cooler.
There's nothing worst than having a competitor remove your product, marketing material or reduce your facings because you are not monitoring your product.
Beer Distributors are experts at delivering beverages to c-stores and their in-store merchandising is top of the line.
Working With Beverage Distributors and Wholesalers
If you have a new beverage, it's critical that you use a distributor that specializes in distributing beverages.
Knowing that you have to compete against so many large beverage companies that have sales reps that don't want your new beverage taking up shelf space, means you need to have a distributor that can service and merchandise your beverage.
If you have a difficult time getting a beverage distributor to carry your product, then you may have to distribute the product yourself or use a wholesaler that typically distributes non beverage products.
You can also use a food-service distributor that sells food and snack items to c-stores.
At the end of the day, you have to use the right distributor to distribute your product, sell your product to their accounts and ultimately get consumers to purchase your new beverage.
P.S. Just because you get a distributor to distribute your product, does not mean you get instant account distribution because it is ultimately your job to sell your product to their accounts.
Distributors not only want suppliers to sell their product to their existing account base but a lot of distributors won't take on your product until you are already in the majority of their accounts.
C-Stores are the battle ground for all New Beverages
When I worked for Pepsi Bottling Group, I competed everyday against the Coke and Dr. Pepper Rep. It was important for me to be the best in the retail account because the more beverages I sold, the more money I made.
I also knew that I couldn't rely on just taking orders for my existing products, I needed to merchandise them properly to boost my sales.
95% of new beverages don't just fail because they don't have enough marketing dollars, they fail because of in-store execution... feet on the street or aggressive sales people like myself making sure they are in the best position.
If you don't know how to properly merchandise your product in a c-store, you aren't going to optimize your sales.
Knowing where to place your product in a cooler or on display will determine how successful your product is going to be.
It doesn't matter how great your new beverage taste or how great your marketing plan is if you don't have people in the stores selling your deals and fighting for shelf space.
Gaining displays and great shelf positioning will only be achieved when you have great reps that understand in-store marketing and also know how to build a great relationship with the retail staff.
Selling a product to a convenience store isn't rocket science, but optimizing your sales is an art that can only be learned by experience and working for major companies such as(Pepsi, Coors and Miller Brewing Co.)
If you have a new product that you want to place into thousands of c-stores and be wildly successful, then I highly suggest you contact me.
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Convenience stores in the United States:
• Convenience Stores: 149,341
• Supermarkets: 36,149
• Drug Stores: 37,409
• Mass Merchandiser/Dollar Stores: 28,326
• Superettes: 13,142
Top 10 States for Convenience Stores (as of 12/31/10)
• Texas: 14,466 stores
• California: 10,581
• Florida: 9,348
• New York: 7,729
• Georgia: 6,434
• North Carolina: 6,196
• Ohio: 5,278
• Michigan: 4,828
• Illinois: 4,533
• Virginia: 4,509
Top 15 Convenience Stores
1. 7-Eleven Inc
2. BP North America
3. Shell Oil Products US
4. Exxon Mobil Corp
5. ChevronTexaco Corp
6. Alimentation Couche-Tard
7. Speedway SuperAmerica LLC,
9. Sunoco Inc
10. The Pantry Inc
11. Valero Energy Corp
12. Casey's General Stores Inc
13. ConocoPhillips Inc
14. Hess Corp
15. Kroger Co
Top 15 Convenience Store Wholesalers
1. McLane Co.
2. Core-Mark Holding Co. Inc.
3. Eby-Brown Co.
4. H.T. Hackney Co.
5. GSC Enterprises Inc.
6. S. Abraham & Sons Inc.
7. Amcon Distributing Co.
8. Harold Levinson Associates Inc.
9. Chambers & Owen Inc.
10. Imperial/Harrison Super Regional
11. Garber Bros. Inc.
12. J.T. Davenport & Sons Inc.
13. Consumer Product Dist. Inc.
14. Liberty USA Inc.
15. Stephenson Wholesale Co. Inc.
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