ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Convenience retailers in Thailand are using new concepts—smaller format stores, a sharpened focus on foodservice and healthier foods and technology enhancements—and competitive pricing to meet consumers’ needs. NACS will highlight more than a dozen best-in-class retail stores on walking and motor coach tours of Bangkok on Tuesday, March, 3, the opening day of the 2020 NACS Convenience Summit Asia, which runs through March 5 in the vibrant Thai capital.
“Many of Asia’s most iconic brands are in Bangkok, along with some amazing Thai participants, all operating at a high level in a truly competitive market,” said Michael Davis, NACS vice president of member services. “These must-see retailers include CP All PLC-7-Eleven, PTT Public Company Café Amazon, Central Food Hall, Family Mart, Tops Daily, Shell and Starbucks Reserve,” he said.
When it comes to the center of the store, “Bangkok is one of the most competitive price markets in the world,” Davis said. “It’s all about price competition with high standards.” Retailers who participate in the Bangkok store tours will get an up-close look at how the Thai market successfully uses pricing and promotions to draw sales.
Here’s a sneak peek at a few of the leading retail formats participants will visit on the expert-guided walking tour of Bangkok.
Central Food Hall
The Central Food Hall is operated by the Central Food Retail Co. Ltd., the largest supermarket chain in Thailand, operating since 1996. The Central Food Hall offers products from around the world, featuring fresh meats, seafood, cheeses, fruits and vegetables, ready-to-eat foods, as well as many other consumer products from local and international producers. Services also include expert chef advice, special orders for pick-up, personal shoppers, home delivery and a carry out service. There’s also a large in-store bakery and a wine and spirits department with more than 600 labels.
The Eathai food court in Central Embassy features classic Thai dishes from across the country, making it a fun and affordable way of tasting regional varieties of Thai food. Cooking stations are separated into northern, southern, Issan (northeastern Thai), vegetarian, seafood and a street food concept area. Dishes start from around 80 baht ($2.64) for noodle soup up to 370 baht for deep fried cod in sweet fish sauce, and despite the almost limitless choice, ordering is made easy as every dish is professionally laid out as an example with detailed English descriptions. Eathai also has a bar, serving ranges of fruit juices, beer on tap, cocktails and even full bottles of Thai whiskey. There’s also a mini supermarket that stocks specialty cooking ingredients from Thailand.
Lawson 108 convenience stores are operated by Saha Lawson Co. Ltd., founded in 2013 by Japan-based Lawson Inc. and Thai consumer goods conglomerate Saha Group. Saha Lawson recently entered a joint venture with VGI Global Media, to open Lawson 108 stores at its mass-transit platforms, including BTS stations. The move is part of VGI’s plan to boost its offline-to-online (O2O) ecosystem through strategic retail spaces, offering Rabbit Line Pay as an option for cashless payments. Lawson 108 stores feature fried chicken, rice balls, doughnuts, roll cake and other convenience and foodservice items.
At Maxvalu Tanjai small retail (300-800 square meters) stores, "Customers Come First." Owned and operated by AEON (Thailand) Co. Ltd., the stores are open 24 hours and offer a selection of high-quality food prepared according to strict Japanese food safety standards. There are a variety of ready-to-eat menus controlled throughout the production process, from the raw materials selection to the time of sale. The NACS store tour will visit a Maxvalu Tanjai store located in the Urban Kitchen area of the Erawan Bangkok, an upscale shopping center featuring high-end, luxury brands. In the Urban Kitchen food court, customers can choose from Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, Thai and other cuisines including Bakerzin, Baskins Robins, Crystal Jade and O’Brien’s Irish Sandwich Bar.
PTT Public Company Ltd. (PTT) is Thailand's leading petroleum and convenience retailer. The company operates travel plazas that meet the diverse needs of consumers on the go with gas stations and Jiffy-branded convenience stores. PTT stations sell regular and diesel fuel, premium diesel and biodiesel (B10, B20), higher ethanol “gasohol” blends (E20, E85) and natural gas. In 2002, PTT founded the Café Amazon, which has become a destination for travelers, decorated with green tones and natural images of gardens and fountains to create a cozy and relaxing atmosphere. Café Amazon was the first coffee chain in Thailand to serve hot beverages nationwide in a compostable paper cup.
There are more than 10,000 7-Eleven convenience stores in Thailand, of which nearly half are in Bangkok. CP All PLC, established in 1988 by the Charoen Pokphand Group, is the sole operator of 7-Eleven stores in Thailand. An estimated 11 million customers frequent a 7-Eleven store in Thailand per day. The stores are open 24/7, but many customers utilize the 7-Eleven mobile app for home and office delivery. Stores are restocked multiple times per day, making the fresh food offer comparable if not better than local restaurants. Some 7-Eleven stores in Bangkok are two levels and have dedicated foodservice offers, including the popular Udsan Bakery & Coffee.
There are more than 100 Shell Select convenience stores in the Bangkok metropolitan areas and in major cities across the country. The stores offer a convenient shopping experience with clean, well-lit interiors, with easy-to-reach shelves, fresh products and quick checkout. The stores provide regular necessities such as coffee, hot dogs, beverages, groceries and household items.
Starbucks has been a fabric of Thai communities since opening its doors in June 1998. As a coffee- growing market, Starbucks began investing in the local supply chain more than 15 years ago, sourcing coffee from Northern Thailand to develop the local Muan Jai Blend, with 5% of sales from the blend going to the farmers in Northern Thailand and their communities. Starbucks’ largest store in Bangkok is on the first floor of CentralWorld and features a Starbucks Reserve Bar and, for the first time in Asia, Starbucks draft beverages infused with nitrogen. The 760-meter store has more than 230 seats and two large rooms designed to host community events or small gatherings surrounded by local art installations throughout the store.
Early bird rates ($700 off registration) expire Friday, January 17. For more information or to register, visit convenience.org/asia. (Please note that seats are limited for the motor coach tour of fuel retailers.)