NACS Convenience Summit Europe is always a highlight for NATSO members and staff who have attended them in the past. This year was no exception.
This year’s event took place in historic Berlin, Germany. The conference was exceptional, as usual, and this year there were discussions surrounding labor, the future of mobility and ESG (environmental, social and governance).
I was incredibly impressed with Zeynep Ton, an MIT Sloan School of Management professor, who spoke about the importance of executing the “good jobs strategy” if you genuinely want to service your employees and excel in business. Listening to her share her insights and actionable changes was my favorite part of the event.
During the retail tours, we had the opportunity to tour multiple combinations of retail operations. Participants could see not only what is different but also what is possible – from automated cigarette vending machines in the hotel to vibrant nontraditional fuel canopies. We saw fuel canopies where natural light and sharp angles presented a welcoming departure from the traditional fuel canopies we see so often in the USA.
Here are a few more favorite takeaways from the retail tours:
SKU Management: I’ve been talking about SKU management for the past ten years, so much so that many of you are tired of hearing about it. International operators generally do a fantastic job managing their retail SKUs. As we continue to struggle with labor, I strongly believe we must wrap our arms around the true cost of poor SKU management. That is not to say there aren’t exceptions where a location can carry everything under the sun and have success, but, again, those are exceptions. The cost of touching products is increasing. There is a cost to having to stock and restock your best sellers because you do not have enough space since you’re carrying soda light with no caffeine with vanilla with a hint of orange, among other oddities. Space matters. Carry what sells and eliminate what does not.
Limited Trade Downs and Redundant Products: Again, I have been preaching this for a long time. How many 35-cent gums must you sell to pay an employee’s hourly salary? Do we really think interstate customers will not shop with us because we do not sell single gum or five-pack gum? Our customers are on the interstate. A multipack takes care of their needs.
Grab-n-Go Food Programs: As noted in the past reviews of European petroleum operators’ food offerings, grab-n-go food is done exceptionally well. There is a more significant focus on making the product look fresh, regardless of whether it is or is not fresher than what we offer here in the USA. Whether it is supporting the food arrangements with flowers or placing smoothie/fruit drinks in ice bins, it all just screams fresh. We have members who mention they sell a lot of fresh bread from their bakeries but do not offer them up for the retail store customer. If you are already selling French baguettes in your bakery, why not offer them to customers who are at the transaction counter? Grocery stores do this in the U.S. Our customers are not unfamiliar with this offering.
The Aral Station: Aral is Germany's leading fuel retail brand, and I really enjoyed the Aral station within Berlin central. While it is a city location, it has a lot of similar touches that many of our travel centers and truckstops deploy, especially those travel centers and truckstops that have strong local customer patronage. This Aral station is a true mobility hub. It offered a robust grab-n-go food offering, gasoline, diesel, LPG, CNG, hydrogen, charging stations, including high speed chargers, battery swap, DHL package collect/drop station, apparel recycling bin, ride sharing, bike sharing, scooter sharing/charging, grocery store drop station, and more.
Enjoy the pictures! (I have so many more. If you are interested in looking at them with me, reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.) And plan to join us in the future!
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