This article is brought to you by Core-Mark.
WESTLAKE, Texas—The new year is traditionally a time to reflect, make resolutions and update goals. This is true both on a personal level and, in the case of retailer, at the store level. And in early 2020, Core-Mark will open its unique innovation lab to help c-store operators better grow their business.
The Center for Excellence is at Core-Mark’s headquarters in Westlake, Texas, halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth. The 14,000-square-foot facility was created to give convenience retailers hands-on experiences, introduce new services and let them try out the latest technology, such as frictionless payment. They’ll also discover fresh products and foodservice offerings created by a corporate chef in the Center’s culinary test kitchen.
“There will be eight Core-Mark team members dedicated to the center, and I see that number growing,” said Amanda Sulc, director, Center of Excellence. “They will collaborate with visitors and help resolve challenges. Having a physical space where retailers visualize their future state and interact with key partners allows for creativity and imagination.”
Depending on the goals and objectives of the retailer, visitors may spend half a day or up to a few days in the Center. Participants are expected to walk away with actionable initiatives they can take home and implement right away. Each plan is customized for the retailer’s specific needs and may include embracing new products or fresh food offerings, optimizing assortments or adopting a time-saving technology.
“The Center is no place for a one-size-fits-all plan,” she said. “It’s for digging into the details and providing solutions crafted specifically for the retailer and their everyday consumer base. These are action items store operators can implement in a short time frame that will make a difference for their business and customers. They can walk away from the Center of Excellence and say, ‘no one else has a plan like I do.’”
The project doesn’t end when retailers return to their stores. “We’ll work with them to track the changes,” Sulc said. “Our data team will measure performance to see if there is an ROI from their visit. Measuring the results is one of our competitive value adds.”
But learning is not a one-way street.
“For an innovation lab to be effective, it must also evolve, and we want retailers’ feedback,” she said. “What can we learn from them on how to make our business better? They’re the ones communicating with consumers every day, so it’s helpful to know what they’re seeing and what their customers want. We see the center as an investment in Core-Mark’s future and in the success of all participants in the convenience channel.”
This is the second installment of a two-part series on the Core-Mark innovation center. Previous coverage can be found in the December 10 edition of NACS Daily.