OPERATIONS

QuikTrip most popular c-store; cleanliness rated most important

BY Marianne Wilson

Boulder, Col. — QuikTrip is the nation’s most popular convenience store, according to a new study by Market Force Information. QuikTrip was voted the most popular c-store chain among the more than 7,600 study participants, followed by Wawa, RaceTrac, Speedway and Arco/ampm.

Market Force found that consumers place a high value on the customer experience when visiting a convenience store. Store cleanliness, in particular, plays an important role in their decision about where to stop and shop. When asked what they like most about their favorite convenience store chain, cleanliness was named more than any other factor. Friendly service ranked second, amenities ranked third, coffee quality was fourth and great service was fifth.

“The top-five factors relate to fundamental customer experience, and that’s no surprise to the best players in the industry,” said Janet Eden-Harris, chief marketing officer for Market Force. “Convenience store customers are on the go and in a hurry, but they will proactively drive to a store that provides a pleasant environment — clean, friendly, great food and service.”

When it calculated the top chains according to attributes such as cleanliness, amenities and atmosphere, QuikTrip and Wawa dominated across the board, ranking first and second in every category.

Overall-favorite QuikTrip, which invests in its employees and institutes creative customer service techniques, was the clear leader in the friendliness and great service categories. It also ranked first for cleanliness, amenities and atmosphere.

Wawa was lauded for the quality of its coffee, and RaceTrac performed consistently well in all of the attributes, securing a third-place spot in four of the six categories. Speedway, Exxon Mobil and Casey’s General Store also outperformed many of the other chains studied in these key areas.

“QuikTrip has done an exceptional job differentiating itself in customer service. Its focus on delivering a welcoming and efficient customer experience led it to stand out in satisfaction-driven categories including friendly associates and great service,” said Eden-Harris.

In food and product attributes, QuikTrip and Wawa ranked first and second in nearly every category, with Wawa only dropping in promotions.

QuikTrip was a clear leader in merchandise selection (48%) and in and merchandise prices (35%). It slightly edged out Wawa in food quality and fell second to Wawa in food selection.

Casey’s General Store and RaceTrac performed consistently well in most categories, with RaceTrac placing in the top five across the board. Exxon Mobile made a showing in the merchandise prices category, and BP for promotions.

The study was designed to uncover which convenience store chains consumers frequent the most, as well as why they prefer one to another. Market Force first calculated the favorites based on total votes, and then factored in the number of locations for each chain for a weighted view of the results. Of the 45 chains studied, 7-Eleven and Shell initially amassed the highest number of votes, which can be attributed to the fact that they have more than 10,000 locations in North America. However, when viewed as a calculation of votes per location, QuikTrip ranked first.

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REAL ESTATE

Whole Foods Market opens in Detroit

BY Marianne Wilson

Detroit — Whole Foods Market on Wednesday is scheduled to open a 21,506-sq.-ft. store in Detroit, in the city’s Midtown neighborhood. The store, which is smaller than the chain’s typical footprint, features an expanded lineup of private-label products and lower prices designed to appeal to more budget-conscious shoppers, according to various reports.

"We’ve worked toward this day for nearly five years, constantly inspired by the positive energy and growth in urban farming, food artisans and local producers in Detroit," said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market. "We are so proud to be part of the mix."

The store includes a community room, free store tours and healthy eating workshops, and regular community giving days. The new store features local and green design elements including using wood and salvaged brick from Reclaimed Detroit, tables made from old car and truck hoods, murals by local artists, and Motown records adorning register lights.

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REAL ESTATE

Cabela’s to enter New York and Massachusetts

BY Marianne Wilson

Sidney, Neb. — Cabela’s Inc. continues to expand East with plans to open its stores in the states of New York and Massachusetts.

The hunting, fishing, camping and related outdoor merchandise retailer will open an 88,000-sq.-ft. store in the Buffalo suburb of Cheektowaga, N.Y., in fall 2014, and a similarly sized one in the Boston suburb of Berlin, in spring 2015. The exteriors of both locations will reflect Cabela’s signature log construction, stonework, wood siding, metal roofing and a large glass storefront.

In addition, the retailer announced it will expand its newer, smaller-footprint store, Cabela’s Outpost, to Lubbock, Texas. Construction of the 42,000-sq.-ft. store is scheduled to begin this fall with a summer 2014 opening.

Cabela’s Outpost stores are generally located in markets of less than 250,000 people. They are designed for efficiency, flexibility and convenience, offering customers access to all Cabela’s merchandise via online order kiosks and an in-store pickup program.

Currently, Cabela’s operates 44 stores across North America. The company has now announced plans to open 16 locations over the next two years.

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