Take Rutters: the Pennsylvania-based chain won competitive edge during the pandemic by bulking up menus with comfort foods and introducing provocative poured drinks like Spiked Slushies and Xtreme Shakes. Innovation and familiarity combine to fantastic effect in Rutters’ fresh foodservice, attracting both long-time shoppers and new customers with the promise of something exciting right next to something homespun.
In post-pandemic convenience, differentiation will make or break margins: Fresh-first is an operational must for c-store competition. If a customer asks “Why should I go?” and can’t come up with a quick answer, they’re going elsewhere. (Rutters stays true to their catchphrase: Why Go Anywhere Else?) You’ve got half a second to be fresh on their mind: Is your foodservice fresh enough? Can it turn customers into a frequent flier, then a lifer? Does your pizza become a local favorite, then a national favorite spanning the South and Midwest?
Casey’s rewards program just surpassed 5 million members, just two years after it launched. Loyalty programs are key to fresh-first ops: Leveraging consumer data to learn preferences and display personalized ads and coupons for the fresh meals and snacks that make their day easier—and keep them coming back. Reward your customers for their loyalty, and the loyalty rewards back.
Ensuring customer satisfaction with fresh goes beyond front-facing operations and loyalty programs: a culture of fresh ops requires fresh-forward thinking store-wide. So take it from Rutters and Casey’s: The punch of fresh-first should be all-day, every day. Make shoppers think of you when they think of fresh.
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