Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Look at the Credit Card Swipe Fee Reform: What Will be the Impact?

What Do Swipe Fee Reforms Mean for the Convenience Store Owner?

What will be the lasting impression left by the swipe fee reforms on credit & debit card transactions? The answer remains to be seen. Rest assured, however, that there will be many more twists & turns throughout this reform process. For those not familiar with the situation, let’s take a step back to look at it from the vantage point of a typical convenience store purchase with a payment card. When a customer pulls out their card and swipes it through the machine to make peyment, the operator is charged an interchange (or swipe) fee that typically ranges from 1 – 3% but can scale as high as 5% for some merchants. This comes out to an average of 44 cents per card transaction, and in 2008 operators nationwide spent just under $48 billion in interchange fees.

Following early reform proceedings, many industry experts anticipated a substantial reduction in costs shouldered by the retailers. But there has been push-back & pressure from major bank lobbyists, and changes to the initial reform bill have already been made. When the bill was first laid out, the proposed ceiling on interchange fees was 12 cents. This past June, however, after intense lobbying on behalf of the big banks, the maximum interchange fee was set at 21 cents. This modification goes into effect on October 1st, 2011.
As this article on NACS Online summarizes, there is still a lot to learn regarding the benefits and pitfalls of the swipe fee reforms. Allen Brothers echoes the considerations from NACS in encouraging retailers to take caution in regards to pricing until the full impact of the swipe fee reform becomes more comprehendible. Feel free to contact Allen Brothers if you’d like more information on the swipe fee reform movement, and as always, happy selling!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Norton's Notes - A Merchandiser's Perspective (Part 4)

Today’s posting is the fourth of a multi-part series on a feature that we have incorporated into our blog on a regular basis called Norton’s Notes. We will be periodically adding insight from our distinguished merchandising specialist, Jim Norton. The format of the articles will be in question and answer, and we encourage you all to keep the questions coming to our inbox at the Allen Brothers Inbox.

BEFORE: A Look at a Retailer Rack Prior to Receiving the Allen Brothers Advantage. Take notice of the uneven spacing and inconsistency of product placement.

AFTER: A Look at a Retailer Rack Following the Allen Brothers Advantage Upgrade. A much more unified display designed to enhance the aesthetics and maximize the amount of products.
Question 1.) When you're setting a store, is there a place that you start every time? Maybe in the grocery aisle or candy?

Answer 1.) I usually start in the candy aisle, which is what I would recommend for someone looking to do a little merchandising of their own. It is the easiest section to setup or reset in the least amount of time. It's also arguably the most essential area in a convenience store, so why not be your sharpest, right? The hanging snack and candy sections take more time as you try to set the proper spacing. I end with the grocery, pet and HBC sections, but each person has their own preferences and a lot depends on how you envision the store.

Question 2.) What's the proper amount of spacing that you recommend in an aisle? Is there an industry minimum size requirement?
Answer 2.) No big surprise here, but your customers need to be able to move around the store easily. As a convenience store or grocery market operator, it's a delicate balance between trying to fit the maximum amount of product while not overwhelming your customer's personal space. There are times when, as a store owner or operator, you need to look at the inventory you're carrying and determine if it fits what your customer is shopping you for. Here's a quick example of a spacing problem and a creative solution. Supermarkets used to feature a lot of aisle displays, transforming their customer's walk through the snack lane into a mini obstacle course. This made it not only difficult to navigate, but also burdensome and overwhelming. Now more use is made of end-caps and front end displays, making a huge difference in customer satisfaction.

Continue to check in regularly for continuous convenience coverage from Allen Brothers Wholesale Distribution.  Happy selling!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cigarette Manufacturers Raise Prices

New Round of Cigarette Price Hikes

Cigarette manufacturers industry-wide are raising prices once again . Lorillard Tobacco Company led the charge in price increases, followed shortly, by Phillip Morris, Natural American Spirit, and R.J. Reynolds. Visit the website of the Winston Salem Journal for more information.

Changes in price are effective immediately. Be sure to consult your invoice for updated pricing, and adjust your pricing accordingly.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cigarette Labels Going Gory

Graphic Cigarette Labels that will appear on Cigarette Packs in September 2012
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has chosen the final nine health warnings which will appear on every cigarette pack and advertisement by September 2012. Allen Brothers encourages you to view the full story published in last week's New York Times.

As you can imagine, reactions have been mixed. There are some significant questions regarding the constitutionality of the Tobacco Control Act, especially in regard to the tobacco companies’ constitutional rights to free speech . So far, however, cigarette manufacturers are reserving comment. Allen Brothers will keep you updated of any updates on this story.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Follow-Up on the 2011 DOT Food Show: Foodservice Fuels C-Store Success

Hot Dog Roller Grills Remain Core C-Store Item

Following a three-day trip in St. Louis for the 2011 DOT Food Show, there's just one thing on my mind: Foodservice! Did you know Foodservice ranks third in convenience store sales behind just fuel and tobacco? With the ever-increasing restrictions on tobacco and the fluctuating state of oil throughout the world, the best way to protect margins in today's market is to look outside the box and inside the bun! Hot dog roller grill programs, pizza on-the-go, coffee and cappuccino, and slushie units are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the wide array of products and programs that are becoming increasingly available to convenience store operators on a daily basis.

The DOT Food Show was an eye-opening experience. Through seminars and interaction with industry leaders like Allen Brothers, the marketing and buying team observed the capabilities of the manufacturers, distributors, and retail owners to combine ingenuity and opportunity to create successful and lucrative sales. At Allen Brothers, we are committed to staying ahead of the curve. We are currently putting together a comprehensive Foodservice program that will empower our customers to take full advantage of this major profit driving division. The Allen Brothers Marketing Team has been posting pictures from the show of potential products on their Allen Brothers Facebook Page. We encourage all of our customers to visit our Facebook page and let us know what products you like best!

If you have any questions regarding foodservice or ways that Allen Brothers can help you grow your business, contact AB Today!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Today’s installment of “Norton’s Notes, A Merchandiser’s Perspective,” sets its sights on point of purchase sales and owner/manager involvement in the store setup. Our merchandising and marketing department are happy to answer any and all of your questions. For feedback or to have your question answered, email the Allen Brothers Inbox today at mailto:jwinning@abdelivers.com.

Question 1) How many items should a store owner carry at the counter-top?

Answer 1) The maximum that your space allows. There’s always apprehension about overloading a counter, and it’s a legitimate concern. But your customers can’t buy what they can’t see. The type of products at checkout have to be hot impulse items, this is no place for a slow-seller. Novelty candy, gum, mints, toys, this should be the focus. If an item has been on the counter for more than two weeks with minimal turnover, it’s time to shuffle product. But it’s never recommended to stack different types of products on top of one another. Give each item the opportunity to stand out to maximize your point of purchase sales, as shown below.

Question 2) Do you find that most store owners want to be involved in the process of merchandising and setting their store, or prefer to leave it up to you? And which scenario do you recommend?

Answer 2) Some owners are more hands on than others. They sometimes have specific plans for their store. Others will give me the freedom to setup their store as I see fit. Setting an appointment to plan the procedure is always a good idea so you’re not going in blind. Both scenarios have their ups and downs. But the more engaged a store owner is in the setup of a store, the more committed they likely will be to maintaining the allure of the store’s appearance.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Allen Brothers Wholesale Distribution: Technology is Everything - Retail Merchandiser

Allen Brothers Wholesale Distribution: Technology is Everything - Retail Merchandiser - Redcoat Publishing

Follow the link to check out another great article on Allen Brothers Wholesale Distribution featuring, among many other things, valuable insight from Allen Brothers Executive Officer and Principal Joe Shott (pictured in story) on the ever-changing face of the convenience retail industry.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Candy Price Increase Follow-Up: Now What? (Part-2)

By now, there should be an overall awareness that prices are on the rise. We can blame it on inflation, gas prices, economic woes, or any other of the numerous options at our disposal. Unfortunately, it's a way of life in this business. But let's not sulk about it. Instead we’ll discover solutions together.

If somehow you haven't taken notice of the hikes or adjusted your pricing, I encourage you to do so... today! Raising prices is never a desirable option; it’s the dirty secret that people in business simply don’t speak of. But the key is to take an aggressive approach and be ahead of the curve. When I say aggressive, I don’t mean go overboard and radically impose major price increases. Instead, be as organized as possible with special consideration taken to easing your customers into the changes.

With inflation on the rise and the price of gas and raw materials fluctuating daily, prices aren’t about to go back down anytime soon. It’s time now to begin the aggressive approach by incorporating frequent price increases at smaller percentages. You’ll find the transition will go more smoothly if, rather than increasing pricing by 20% to your customers in a single day, you take a strategic approach with 5% increases weekly over the course of a month to get to that final number. When all the other store owners increased by 20% overnight, you’ll still be 15% less expensive (even if just for a week) then all the other game in town. Sure, you will catch up to the total price in a relatively short period of time, but the transition for your customer will be less dramatic. Customers are more willing to accept smaller-sized, incremental price increases than they are to swallow the entire jump all at once.

We’ll revisit this topic again in an upcoming blog. Happy selling!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Candy Price Increase Follow-Up: Now What?

Information is power. The first step to addressing the candy price increase is informing you about the change. But what good is telling you about a problem without providing potential solutions. That's what today's post is all about. We'll address some potential ways to address the price changes in the upcoming posts, starting today!

Incorporate Loss-Leader Sales
In case you aren't familiar with the term loss-leader, this business keyword refers to a product sold at a low price (at cost or below cost) to stimulate other more profitable sales. With the rise in the cost of candy, the convenience store industry will need to become even more price conscious in daily operations. Incorporating a loss-leader sales promotion is a great way to disguise price increases in other areas. Pick an item whose cost is relatively stable, perhaps a beverage like a water bottle. Put it on sale at a knock-out low price to get your customers to buy that item with the other items that may have recently absorbed a price increase.

I don't know about you, but when I'm shopping a C-Store, the main price I pay attention to is the total. If you can hide a price increase with a popular promotion, you will keep your customers happy by being conscious of their needs. But remember, you need a wholesale distributor who WILL help you keep your customers happy. If you're looking for a great deal you can turn into a loss-leader promotion, check out the great deal featured below and in this month's Allen Brothers Flyer!

$2.95 for Crystal Geyser 24 Count Water, less than $0.13 per bottle!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Candy Price Increase

The cost of both chocolate and non-chocolate confectionary has been increased. Disruption in supply of raw materials like cocoa beans, sugar, and flour have forced major suppliers like Hershey, Nestle, MARS, and others to announce price increases anywhere between 8% to 13% respectively. Customers are asked to pay special attention to the increase in pricing on their invoices and adjust their retail accordingly.

For more information, please visit Allen Brothers Website and tour the News Room for more details.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Norton’s Notes – A Merchandiser’s Perspective (Part Two)

Today’s posting is the second of a multi-part series on a feature that we will be incorporating into our blog on a regular basis called Norton’s Notes. We will be periodically adding insight from our distinguished merchandising specialist, Jim Norton. The format of the articles will be in question and answer, and we encourage any questions or comments.

Question 1.) You've merchandised a variety of stores. What's the hardest type of store to setup, a large convenience outlet or a smaller mom-and-pop?

Answer 1.) Each type of store presents its own challenges. A large store can carry more variety. This allows a merchandiser to take liberties allocating items, and have more room for displays and secondary merchandising locations. The smaller store will only carry the top selling items as space dictates. This means you must take into consideration the demographics of the area you’re in. In convenience, just as in real-estate, it’s all about location!
Stay ahead of the game with Allen Brothers Wholesale Distribution
Pictured Above: Beautiful store set out of the candy aisle, it almost sells itself!

Question 2.) What are the must-have items for the upcoming months that you're putting in every store you set?

Answer 2.) It’s good to have a seasonal section in your store. With the summer months coming up you want to stock insect repellent, sauces and condiments, fire logs for outdoor use, picnic supplies, toys, etc. For the winter section you want firewood, ice scrapers, snow shovels, rock salt, etc. The key is knowing what your customers will want before they do. You don’t ever want to lose a sale because you didn’t have a seasonal item during that period.

To get immediate feedback or assistance, email Allen Brothers Wholesale Distribution directly at info@abdelivers.com, or visit the Allen Brothers Website.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pizza Pushing Profits

We've discussed hot dogs and their importance to the food service sector, today we look at pizza. 18% of adults in the United States reported eating pizza at least once a week. What's driving these heightened numbers for pizza consumption? Surprisingly, it's not delivery pizza that's driving the boost in sales, it's c-store sales and take home pies. Good news for all of us in the convenience store industry, since we specialize in both! 43% of those that reported eating pizza at least once per week also reported that the majority of their purchases are made in convenience stores and supermarkets. With inexpensive pricing and the ability to purchase take-home pizza pies, the growth becomes more logical since the c-store and superettes are thriving with today's shoppers heightened propensity for good pricing and convenience.

Grow your pizza business with Allen Brothers Wholesale Distribution
Let Allen Brothers help you grow your pizza business today!
Store operated food service options are a progressive push in today's convenience store industry. Many of the elite performers in the business are embracing the wave of product diversification. If you're not offering food service in your store today, take the progressive step to ensure you have it in your store tomorrow and contact Allen Brothers at info@abdelivers.com to get the ball rolling! You have a great opportunity to grow your business, and we can help. Check out the Allen Brothers Monthly Special's back cover for knock-out deals on pizza products today!

Allen Brothers Helps You Drive Pizza Profits
Let Allen Brothers help you grow your pizza profits!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Norton's Note -- The man behind the merchandising

Since our last edition of Norton's Notes, some of our website visitors were curious about our head of merchandising, Jim Norton, and his background in the convenience store business. I'd like to take a quick break from the industry info. & advice and peel back the curtain to reveal one of Allen Brothers' biggest assets, Merchandising Manager Jim Norton.

A recent example of a store set by Merchandising Manager Jim Norton
Pictured above, a recent store set performed by Merchandising Manager Jim Norton

Jim has enjoyed an extensive career in the convenience retail industry, but for the sake of reading, I'll try to keep it brief. Norton's emergence into the retail side of business started in grocery in 1986. During his first few years in the business, Jim worked for a food broker in the mid-Atlantic region successfully calling on some of the most prominent grocery chains in his territory. During his time working strictly on grocery categories, Norton was responsible for placement of new items and was an instrumental part of a high-ranking reset team at the company.

Following a four year stint in the grocery sector, Norton then went to work for Wakefern Food Corporation as a sales and merchandising representative. It was during this stint that he realized his true passion for working with store sets and assisting customers in maximizing their store's potential. Mainly working with ShopRites throughout the Delaware Valley, Norton played a crucial role in successfully implementing new products and programs that were customized to the needs of each store. He was renowned for his expert product knowledge. Norton held this position for six years before tackling his next career move at Gourmet Award Foods from 1996 to 1999.

It was not until his move in late 1999 to Heritage's Wholesale that Jim Norton became immersed in convenience retail. With nearly 40 convenience stores to look over in Southern New Jersey, Norton discovered a renewed enthusiasm for convenience store merchandising. Working in tighter confines, Norton's creativity came to the forefront. He developed entire layouts for stores to optimize sales volume. In addition, he developed a program for designating certain "high-sell" areas for maximum product profitability based on category.

Following a ten year stay with Heritage, Norton made the switch from the convenience retail side of the business to convenience wholesale. Since January 2009, Jim has been an integral part of Allen Brother's sales and merchandising team. His past experience in the field as a sales representative and merchandising coordinator made him a perfect fit for Allen Brothers Wholesale Distribution. Since joining Allen Brothers, Norton has successfully incorporated his core philosophy of a fresh and well-kept store set being a key ingredient for a store's overall success.

To find out more about what Allen Brothers' can do for your business, contact the merchandising department at info@abdelivers.com, or call 1-800-207-2553 today!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Deal of the Week

Effective Monday, April 4th, 2011, the new Allen Brothers Grocery and Monthly Flyers go into effect. A ton of great deals on these flyers, but here are a few that stand out to me.
Heinz EZ Squeeze, 20 OZ Bottle
Item #: 838426
Available for $1.59 Each

Cloud 9 White Grape Palma, 25 Count Upright
Item #: 200207
Available for $12.77

Breyers 16 OZ Ice Cream Tubs
Strawberry (Item #927478), Butter Pecan (Item #927484), Vanilla (Item #927473),
& Chocolate (Item #927470)
All for a crazy low price of $1.34 to Allen Brothers customers!

Smart Buying and Happy Selling Everyone! Have a great weekend.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Norton's Notes -- A Merchandiser's Perspective

Today's posting is a new feature that we will be incorporating into our blog on a regular basis called Norton's Notes, a look inside the convenience store world from a merchandiser's perspective. We will be periodically adding insight from our distinguished merchandising specialist, Jim Norton. The format of the articles will be in question and answer, and we encourage any questions or comments.

To get immediate feedback or assistance, email Allen Brothers Wholesale Distribution directly at info@abdelivers.com, or visit the Allen Brothers Website.

To further assist you in your merchandising efforts, we will begin uploading photos of store sets from our past projects on our facebook page, www.facebook.com/abdelivers. Please take a tour of our Facebook Page for a flash back to our past with pictures and articles from our 101 year history. Don't forget to Like Us!

Like Allen Brothers on Facebook Today
Like Allen Brothers on Facebook Today!
Let's get started.

Ask the Merchandiser

Question 1.) How do you assist a customer in best managing their space?

Answer 1.) I ensure that the top selling items are on the shelves. I solicit feedback from store owners on their customers because it's essential to know your demographics. What sells in one store may not sell in another. Secondary locations are important to the overall store profit too. I encourage store owners to use point of sales to promote certain items. I also suggest ordering single units as not to overload your inventory, another great feature of using Allen Brothers Wholesale Distribution. You can't sell it if it's in your backroom!

Question 2.) What are some of the best in-store fixtures available?

Answer 2.) With the hectic lifestyles, more and more people are eating on the run. The customer can get breakfast, lunch & dinner from their local supermarket or convenience stores. Fast food modules are in many stores. I've also noticed more secondary item fixtures at the coffee station. In addition, many stores are using a candy rack to supplement the regular candy section. This should be close to the checkout for impulse sales.

Question 3.) Do you recommend switching your store set every few years or trying to remain consistent?

Answer 3.) I recommend switching your store set, but every few years is a stretch. I recommend some stores do resets at least twice a year. You have to keep a fresh look throughout your store. Items are constantly being discontinued, but just as many new items are being introduced. The reset is essential for rotating out the old stock and launching new items to optimize sales.

Be sure to check in regularly for continuous convenience coverage. Happy selling!

Monday, March 21, 2011

10 Tips for Running Successful Convenience Stores

Whether you're operating one or one-hundred stores, there are hard & fast rules that you as a store owner simply can't ignore. Anyone who's inside the business knows there are more than 10 guidelines for maximizing your ownership experience in terms of sales, but too often we all get so busy in our daily duties inside our four walls that we forget the need for continuous improvement. It’s not easy to improve, progress is a slow process, but with a commitment to perfection you can reach excellence.

The tips that we offer are logical and cost effective. Rest assured, you don’t need to be a billionaire to succeed with the business plans we lay out. At Allen Brothers’ we have enjoyed great success thanks to a corporate philosophy set in stone by President Jeff Allen. The mindset at Allen Brothers is even as our business continues to grow in size, we remain true to our roots as a customer-intimate company. With that in mind, in today’s blog we’ll take a small business approach to today’s tips in this week’s discussion.

1.) Always, or as much as possible given your finances, be open to testing new products: Sure, there will be certain products that just won’t work for your consumer base. But how will you know if you never tried? There are those overnight sensations that spring out of nowhere, and the beauty of a convenience store industry is that it’s intimate enough that your customers will recognize new products. Anyone in the industry of convenience retail knows the Big 3 that drive sales: Lottery, Tobacco, and Beverage. If you can hit a homerun outside that holy trio with a hot new candy item, a food service favorite, or an eye-catching floor display, think about how much further your profit margins can go.

2.) Keep it clean: A common theme, just keep it clean. We’ve discussed this topic before, but if you want women shoppers returning to your store, it better be clean! Don’t overlook this, organization and cleanliness are key components to your success.

3.) Control the Checkout Experience: When you overload the checkout space with too much product, you’re inadvertently taxing the sensory system of your customer. Every display in your store does not need to be filtered to the front checkout area. Instead, investigate which areas of your store are most popular beyond the checkout lane and consider display placements that can capitalize on some of that space. The front checkout should be reserved for the items that most conform to the impulse purchase, those small items we call “throw it in the bag” products. Once you figure out what those items are, take in the display from the customer’s perspective and confirm you’re creating a compelling presentation. For more feedback, reach out to your Allen Brothers Merchandising Specialist Jim Norton. To schedule a time to meet with Jim, contact Allen Brothers online at info@abdelivers.com.

4.) Solicit Feedback: OK, you need thick skin for this one everybody! But soliciting some outside feedback into ways to improve your store is a great way to get invaluable information for free. Who better knows how to improve the experience of shopping in your store than the customer themselves? You might be surprised to find out what it is customers are saying. Maybe you’ll get an idea for a new product that will prevent your customer from splitting his business with you and the local grocery store. That’s more business for you at no price thanks to consulting with your client base. It might seem insignificant, but what a great way to show your customer’s that you care.

5.) Avoid being Out-Inventoried: If I go into a store and I need 5 bottles of soda but there’s only 3 available, that automatically leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It’s not my fault that I want to give you more sales, you want those sales! Be sure to plan ahead by looking at inventory daily, bi-daily at the least, to make sure you have what your customer’s need. Sure, the seasons bring in and out different buying patterns, but with a little in-house research you can be ahead of the trends. Work with your sales representative to analyze inventory fluctuations and determine what’s the best way to control supply to amplify your earnings.

6.) Solicit Your Services: In case you live in a box, America has evolved into a service-oriented society. What type of services do you offer your customer for their in-store shopping experience? Have you ever considered implementing a fax or internet service, a copier option, or maybe even an in-store computer that customers can use at a reasonable fee? Or, how about incorporating other businesses into your store front? Perhaps you could run a money-order operation, a great way to bring people into your store. In owning a store, you have the option to create a brand of business entirely your own. Don’t limit yourself and never look past any opportunity to grow.

7.) Invest in your store: Human beings are sensory –oriented creatures, we are attracted to aesthetically pleasing settings. Keep this in mind when it comes to your stores design and upkeep. Work hard daily to make your store a preferable place to shop. Ensure that your aisles are kept organized and are wide enough for each of your customers to fit through comfortably. Spacing is so important, and you’ll need to be consistent in the appearance of your store so that a customer is comfortable knowing what to expect and where to find their preferred products when they walk into your store.

8.) Consider your Community: Sales in any industry are almost entirely tied to the community that the business is located in. No form of business adheres to this rule more prevalently than the convenience store industry. Always keep in mind who you’re selling to and what their preferences and needs are. If you live in an area with low socio-economics, price points are imperative. You’ll need to base a large part of your business on volume of sale, and you’ll also need to be resourceful in what type of products you’re bringing in. Your customers want the same things that people in more high-economic areas are looking for, but they are more conscious of the cost. As a store owner in that environment, you need to have those same thoughts in mind.

9.) Stay ahead of the industry: Reach out to your sales representative and find out what type of industry magazines they are reading to stay up-to-date on industry news. The only way to really succeed in the convenience store industry is to stay ahead of the curve, and magazines and newspapers are a great way to stay informed. There are so many resources available at your fingertips on a daily basis, including this blog!

10.) Customers Love Convenience: Remember you main purpose, and that is to be a convenient source of items such as candy, beverage, tobacco, and the like. Every convenience store has its strength and weaknesses, but every store should have a focus on helping the customer get in and out with ease. Think seriously on how to streamline all processes to help your customers get what they want most: Fast Service. This can seem daunting if it requires increasing your manpower, but I encourage you to consider the return on investment. Another option is to integrate new technology and navigation tools and signage that will increase the efficiency of the process from start to finish. The team at Allen Brothers Wholesale Distribution is renowned for the technological advancements, reach out today to find out how we can help you maximize productivity in your store by calling at 215-739-1083 or via email at info@abdelivers.com.

This is a small sampling of some of the essential elements to running a successful Convenience Store. There are obviously things we missed, so fill us in! Post below some of the ways you’ve succeeded in the convenience store business and some of your core principals that have helped you develop a successful business.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Smokeless Tobacco Use Sees Upward Trend

For today's convenience store owner, there's no mistaking the fact that cigarette sales are on the decline. But the convenience store business is healthier than ever. Were you aware that convenience store commerce forms nearly 12 percent of the U.S. retail industry? The statistics supporting a trend in the growth of the convenience business are staggering. I encourage you to visit CSNEWS and read more. But in case you're like me and prefer having all your information in one place, I'll lay it out for you. According to recently released statistics, "Growth in the convenience store industry will continue through 2013 at a CAGR of approximately 7.6 percent, market research consultant RNCOS reported. The convenience store industry, which currently forms nearly 12 percent of the U.S. retail industry, has seen several years of growth, with the number of individual convenience stores expected to increase as well," (CSNEWS).

It's easy to fret about lost units in certain categories, but rather than offer complaints our industry has found solutions! At Allen Brothers, we've seen first-hand how store owners, vendors, manufacturers, and distributors have become more creative & resourceful in finding new ways to generate revenues.

To that point, I came across an article regarding smokeless tobacco and wanted to share. The publishing syndicate Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner reports that the unit sales of smokeless tobacco products are offsetting declines in other areas of the tobacco industry. In fact, in a recent study it was found that 30% of the recent decline in cigarette sales is being offset by the robust sale of small cigars, snuff and roll-your-own products.

Smokeless tobacco products are certainly one way that the convenience world has adapted to declines in other areas. But it's not all snuff. The emphasis on ready-to-eat foods at convenience stores is a growing trend, and many stores are stepping up their ready-to-eat food offerings to make up for declining cigarette sales. I'd like to open up the discussion to find out what other ways the convenience industry has not only survived, but excelled in today's market. Post your thoughts and partake in today's AB Poll below. Happy selling everyone!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Food Service Announcement

Exciting developments being made by Allen Brothers Wholesale in their food service department. Food Service is exploding in the world of convenience store retail, and Allen Brothers has been and will remain to be in front of this wave. In the April sales flyer, you will notice a specialized "Food For All" section with specials relating solely to food service items. To find the best sale prices on your everyday convenience store needs, visit the Allen Brothers Hot Buys page at http://www.abdelivers.com/.

Allen Brothers March Hot Buys
A Snapshot of the Savings

All the talks going on in the offices at Allen Brothers about food service got me thinking about the ruler of the roller grill, the hot dog. Is it just me, or do grilled hot dogs taste way better than those dogs that are boiled? You may be wondering why, right? Well, as we get closer and closer to the Spring, the one device you'll begin seeing more and more is the hot dog roller grill. Arguably one of the greatest convenience store contraptions ever developed, the roller grill brought convenience store owners into the world of food service with a bang. I don't care who you are, there's no question that a roller grill hot dog tastes better than a boiled one.

This is my tip for the Spring to any store owner in the Mid-Atlantic region: Grab yourself a roller grill if you don't already have one. Baseball season is right around the corner, and nothing compliments a day at the ballpark like a dog in the bun. They can be a fantastic source of earnings for convenience store owners and help get your reputation as a food service retailer in your geographic footprint. Don't let the opportunity slip by, send Allen Brothers an email at info@abdelivers.com to find out how we can get you hooked up with hot dogs.

TRIVIA OF THE WEEK: How many bites does it take the typical eater to consume a roller grill hot dog?
~ I'll give you a list of the 3 options, but no cheating!!

A.) 4.7
B.) 6.1
C.) 7.2

Post your answers below, and don't forget to subscribe to our blog on the right side toolbar. Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter for breaking news in convenience distribution.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Merchandising Notes: Racks, Inventory, and Sales


Went searching the web this weekend, and came across a great website on racks and shelving for a store. The name of the article says it all, How to Choose the Best Wire Candy Racks for your Store.

There are so many different options in racking out there, but the point of the article is broken down into three major points:

As a store owner or merchandiser, you need to think about...

1.) Your Store's Environment

2.) Your Candy Products

3.) Your Usual Customers

I may be a little biased, but the merchandising team at Allen Brothers is one of the best in the business. If you'd like to arrange for a store consultation, reach out with an email to sales support at info@abdelivers.com. We'd love to take that boring rack in your store (see above) and make it come alive (see below)...


Friday, February 11, 2011

Followup on Jeff Allen at NBC10 -- Networking, the Name of the Game


As published yesterday, Jeff Allen, President of Allen Brothers Wholesale Distribution in Philadelphia, took part in a series of interviews at NBC10 Philadelphia.

In addition to a sitdown with Tracy Davidson of NBC10, Jeff is also featured on a new and exciting multi-media forum, CEO Intronet. During Jeff's sit-down with Davidson (see picture below), the two discussed the opportunities in today's market and advice for aspiring job-seekers and future CEO's. The taped appearance for Survive and Thrive will be appearing on an upcoming NBC10 news program on February 16th or 23rd.

Check out Jeff's one-on-one interview with Patty Owens, and don't miss the opportunity to hear from a CEO Roundtable of successful business owners in the Delaware Valley! Read below on a few thoughts I took away from the day and some ideas in terms of growing your business network...

President Jeff Allen with NBC 10's evening news host Tracy Davidson

What an eye-opening experience. As a marketing enthusiast, it was incredible to hear the stories from other industry leaders throughout the day, turning their ideas & dreams into successful enterprises. And what a great opportunity for business networking, the name of the game for any aspiring entrepreneur.

When you hear the word networking, what's the first thought that comes to your mind? A shuffling of hand shakes and business cards? Maybe a friendly discussion at the counter of your convenience store or out in the aisles? Think more detailed about successful and worthwhile business marketing, and you should come up with a definition similar to the one I've started applying more and more in my daily interactions. Business Marketing is defined as the process of establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with other business people and potential clients and/or customers. Notice I point out and highlight the mutually beneficial relationship, no mistake made there!! The focal point of the message is to seek out like-minded individuals who will benefit comparably and be more likely to work together with you in the future. It seems so simple! But how often in your daily interactions do you waste your time (pardon the blunt phrasing) with people or opportunities that can't meet the expectations of you or the person you're working with.

In the convenience store business, this thought can apply to each and every store owner or manager. During your day-to-day operations, how often do you engage in your own business marketing? Are you building relationships with your customers and the distributors and vendors? Some questions to consider:

Do you reach out to a customer and thank them for their business?

Customers will visit your store for quick service and an in-and-out experience. But that doesn't mean you can't greet those customers by name and enquire about what's going on in their lives. That type of interaction will keep them coming back to you because YOU STAND OUT!! That customer is more likely to refer you to a friend because you're not doing the same thing everyone else is doing in your line of business.

What do you do to make that customer feel like you have their interest in mind?

Have you successfully emphasized to your employees to put a name to the face of those regular customers who come in even as little as once a week. If not, do so today. But more than that, make a customer feel like you're looking out for them as well. Price yourself competitively. Even if your profit margins are lower at first, you should be able to make up for that in volume if word gets out about your great pricing. Due to today's economy, everyone is price sensitive, and having a reputation for the lowest price in your geographic footprint will go a long way.

It might sound so insignificant, but in an industry where personal interaction is so critically essential, how much or little do you emphasize your business networking. Reward a customer's loyalty, maybe a cup of coffee on the house!! Remember, you need to spend money to make money and always go that extra mile to keep your customer satisfied!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

CEO & President Jeff Allen Featured on NBC10


Jeff Allen, CEO & President of Allen Brothers Wholesale Distribution in Philadelphia, set to appear on NBC-10 & CEO IntroNet TV

Philadelphia, PA, February 10th 2011… Jeff Allen, President & CEO of Allen Brothers Wholesale Distribution, has been invited to the NBC10 studios in Bala Cynwyd, PA, to partake in a three-part interview for the NBC10 news series “Survive and Thrive” and CEO Intronet.

The interviews will be broken into three sections: a video profile of Allen Brothers Wholesale Distribution, a CEO Roundtable with Allen and other industry leaders, and finally a piece with NBC10 personality Tracy Davidson for broadcast on NBC’s Wednesday special, “Survive and Thrive.” The NBC10 programming will air either Wednesday, February 16th or February 23rd, 2011 between 5:00 PM and 6:00 PM. The video profile and roundtable will be available Friday, February 11, at www.ceointronet.com/ceointronet-tv/. Media outlet Convenience Store News has also linked to the story.

The video profile will cover a wide variety of subjects. Included in the topics covered will be Allen Brother’s 100 Year Anniversary and company history, a background of Jeff Allen, and a look forward at the company’s future highlighted by the first public announcement of Allen Brother’s new interactive website, http://www.abdelivers.com/.

Following the video profile, Jeff Allen will sit down with CEO’s from a wide spectrum of businesses to discuss what it takes to lead a company in today’s economy. The conversation will focus on overcoming the current state of the economy from an array of angles. The CEO Roundtable will also delve into the qualities required to land a spot in the much-desired corner office.

The final segment, Survive and Thrive with Tracy Davidson, will air either Wednesday, February 16th or Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011 between 5:00 PM and 6:00 PM on NBC10. The half-hour special focuses on career advice from the experts who best know how to capitalize on their professional opportunities. Jeff Allen will discuss, among other things, the keys to his success, advice for aspiring business owners, and his recommendations for job seekers in today’s challenging market.

Following the tapings, the interviews will be available publically beginning Friday, February 11th, 2011 at www.ceointronet.com/ceointronet-tv/ and www.ceointronet.com/video/. The taped appearance for “Survive and Thrive” will be appearing on an upcoming NBC10 news program on February 16th or 23rd.

About Allen Brothers Wholesale Distribution

Allen Brothers Wholesale Distribution, a leading distributor for convenience stores and beverage outlets in the Mid-Atlantic region, is a primary distributor of candy, beverages, snacks, health & beauty supplies, tobacco, grocery, and refrigerated and frozen products. Headquartered in Northeast Philadelphia, Allen Brothers is a third-generation family owned company celebrating their 100th anniversary this year. With annual sales ranking in the Top 30 nationally, Allen Brothers is also ranked in the Top 10 nationally in sales per warehouse square foot.

In addition to over 1,200 convenience stores, Allen Brothers also services gift shops in hotels and hospitals, liquor stores, drug stores, country clubs, supermarkets, grocery stores, superettes, and schools. The century-old family owned business employs over 80 employees.
Allen Brothers’ headquarters is located on the corner of Front and Erie Avenues in Philadelphia and stretches over six acres. The company campus houses a state-of-the-art facility which accommodates its corporate offices as well as a warehouse and refrigerated and frozen food facility. Allen Brothers’ location allows them to effectively service every county of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, New York, and DC with next day delivery.

About CEO Intronet

An industry original, CEO Intronet is the first private vetted social network designed exclusively for CEOs and owners of operating companies. CEO Intronet is the brainchild of a group of successful CEOs and serial entrepreneurs who realize the vital need for a private, secure, and trusted means for sitting CEOs, Presidents, Executive Directors, Managing Partners, and other chief decision makers to connect with each other across geographical, industry, and association boundaries.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Keys to Capitalizing on Convenience: Part One

With over 100 Years of dedicated service, the team at Allen Brothers Wholesale has a true passion for the wonderful world of convenience retail. Over the past century, we've developed thousands of relationships with store owners and operators, manufacturers and vendors, and the in-store shoppers. It is through these relationships that we have uncovered many of the secrets for success in the convenience store setting.

Interactive is the key word. This blog is geared to the many faces of convenience retail, and we will pass on what we've learned to you through our writing. But we also want to hear from you!! Whether you're an independent convenience store owner, a franchisee store operator, or a member of a corporate conglomerate, the information and insight you possess is invaluable. At Allen Brothers, we always want to learn more!!

The goal of the blog is simple. We want to create a highly interactive social medium for the store owners, store operators, consumers and shoppers, product manufacturers and vendors, and the team at Allen Brothers Wholesale. By capitalizing on the shared experiences that tie this group together, we can all benefit. And remember we want our blog and our website, www.abdelivers.com, to be a fun and enjoyable!

Today's blog is the first of a multi-part series geared toward maximizing store potential. All of our blog postings are efforts in "IN-Lightenment," the sharing of INsight, INformation, and INstruction. The title of the blog says it all, "The Keys to Capitalizing on Convenience.”

In today’s post, we’ll be taking a look at the single most important element in the world of convenience…


Choosing a location for your store and maximizing its potential is the most important factor in the convenience store equation. Assuming that you have already established your store, you know how critical location has been to your success. There are numerous factors to consider when discussing location, not just the street or intersection. Take, for instance, the following concerns:

A.) Population - It is important to choose a location with a substantial population nearby to support your business. If people have to travel a longer distance, they are more likely to go to a major supermarket for a shopping trip. It is also a good idea to look into an area's projected population growth.

B.) Competition - The common misconception for convenience store owners is that their competition is mostly from other convenience stores. While this can be true in urban environments, it's also important to consider the competition coming from supermarkets. Check the local market you're considering to see if it can support another operation.

C.) Overcoming Competition - If you've picked out a location but there's heavy competition, that doesn't mean you can't have success. You'll just have to be more creative and diligent. One major way to establish your credibility is to establish your cleanliness. Promote your sanitary environment and be sure to maintain a sterile store. Too often, customers walk in the front door and are so turned off by the appearance that their first visit is also their last.

Another way to drive people in your doors rather than out of them is to encourage customers to make use of your restroom facilities. If a customer is willing to spend their hard-earned money in your store, you should certainly be willing to allow them to utilize your bathroom. If you want to establish a collection of “regular” customers, make each and every visitor to your store feel as appreciated as possible. Remember to always keep in mind the long term goal of your store. Step outside the box. The common reputation for convenience store owners is a love for cash. Make your reputation a love for customers!

D.) Traffic - Impulse purchases make up a good percentage of convenience store sales, so high volumes of pedestrian and vehicle traffic passing your store is critical. Location near schools, parks, sporting facilities and other businesses with increased traffic is preferred, but not required.

E.) Overcoming Lack of Traffic - If you don’t have a steady stream of traffic by your store, make a trip to the busiest section of your surrounding area and invest in signage and flyers to notify customers where they can find you. Convenience is crucial, and you need to make it your responsibility to make the process as easy as possible for your current and potential customers. The key is getting people in the store the first time, making the experience satisfying, and cultivating the customer into a habitual visitor to your store.

We've looked into the first of a sequence of key factors that determine a store's maximum profitability. Obviously we don't have all the answers, and that's where you come in.

Now It's Your Turn

1.) Store Owners and Operators - What did we miss? How have you found ways to either take advantage of your desirable location or overcome location-related obstacles? Are you in a heavily populated area with consistent foot traffic and little competition, or have you had to work a little harder to get those customers in the door? How have you kept your customers, and what do you think of an open door policy regarding public bathrooms? Come on, don’t be bashful of your success!

2.) Product Manufacturers and Vendors - In your daily travels, what type of efforts have you observed store owners partaking in regards to their location?

Come on everybody, let's hear from you!!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Wholesale Online Shopping At Allen Brothers: Buy Wholesale Candy, Gum, Mints & More!

Here at Allen Brothers, we had an idea: give customers all the benefits of wholesale club shopping with none of the membership hassles and fees.

We’ve spent the past century providing low cost wholesale distribution services to convenience store owners, and the truth is – we just can’t get enough of offering the lowest prices on the highest quality products.

So we decided to offer wholesale online shopping, not just for convenience store owners, but for everyday people just like you.

Now, you can buy wholesale items online and get low prices on candy, gum, snacks, health & beauty supplies, automotive supplies and more. Choose from thousands of products shipped right to your door!

Shop Allen Brothers now and save on all your favorite candy, including:

  • Reese’s
  • M&M’s
  • KitKat
  • Snickers
  • And more!

Fast delivery, a wide product selection and exceptional customer service are just a click of the mouse away. Shop now and make Allen Brothers your number one online wholesalers!

For more information, please visit Allen Brothers Wholesale Distribution at http://www.abdelivers.com.