Store Tour: West Lawrence Hy-Vee (Slideshow)
A high-energy clientele meets an energy-efficient store design
Published in Convenience Store Products
When foodservice is broached, Yochum’s voice perks up. It’s a top-caliber program led by a signature fresh-baked pizza that’s prepared daily and shipped from the supermarket to the c-store. This store alone sells 20 to 30 whole pies per day. A TurboChef oven provides the finishing touch on pizzas within a 4-minute cook time.
Like its grocery items, “we really have the luxury of being able to try new [foodservice] things on a regular basis. If you look at pizza, we have 125 different kinds to offer at the supermarket’s Italian Express-branded program and, at our discretion, we can try all of them in the c-store.”
To stimulate impulse sales, foodservice offerings are displayed in an attractive open-air fresh cooler that’s regularly stocked with salads, pastas, breakfast items and sandwiches, made fresh daily. Fried chicken and chicken-strip dinners are also part of the lineup. Three small bistro tables are available for on-premise dining.
When customers nosh, it starts with the wide-ranging pizza offers. The scale of pizza is so prolific because, of the 125 types offered, a healthy portion are either breakfast or dessert varieties, the latter of which features a cream cheese-base topping with cinnamon sugar crumbles. Customers can add additional flavoring to the base, such as apple or strawberry.
In a nod to new concepts, the store is gradually building a following with Hy-Vee Chinese Express and FujiSan-branded sushi, prepared in the supermarket and transported daily to the c-store. Popular offerings include sweet and sour chicken, Mongolian beef, egg rolls and crab rangoon.
A Loyal Following
The store’s Fuel Saver loyalty program is the fulcrum that stimulates sales velocity, enabling the c-store to sell grocery-type products. “There are some 300 store items tied to Fuel Saver, each with different discount amounts,” says Yochum, from 2 cents to as much as 10 cents off. A recent ad showcased a real shopper touting the $25 he saved on his last fill-up. The savings loads to the card and customers have 30 days to redeem.
The loyalty card is also a regular driver of coffee, fountain and cold-vault sales. Yochum guesses the average redemption amount per customer is 42 cents per gallon within a month.
The store also has a program where customers can take their Hy-Vee grocery receipts to the c-store to receive discounts on gasoline. Signage around the store, from the candy aisle to the checkout counter, implores customers to check out the loyalty program, with the clever slogan “Fill Your Cart, Fuel Your Car.”
For a few years the Hy-Vee supermarket has offered a Caribou Coffee kiosk, so the c-store naturally integrated it as well. “When a customer drives up to the Hy-Vee c-store, they expect the same quality coffee as in the supermarket,” says Yochum.
Five blends of Caribou coffee are brewed fresh on the hour. While many coffee programs see volume trail off after noon, Hy-Vee sustains brisk sales due to college students needing to keep their motors running.
One merchandising oddity in the store is the integration of private-label energy beverages. The three private-label offerings account for about one-third of overall energy drink receipts, says Yochum.
“Our Topco buying consortium provides a ‘controlled label’ energy brand, and we also have two other private-label brands,” says Yochum. One variety is Urban Riot, and is comparable to Red Bull in the shape of the can and the four-pack offering. RipIt and Sinister are the other two brands. The good news is that the private-label varieties actually produce incremental sales instead of cannibalization. He didn’t have to displace name brands; rather, he upped his cold-vault stock on energy drinks from three to four cooler doors to reflect increased sales.
Less than eight months after its grand opening, the Clinton Parkway Hy-Vee continues to ascertain the wants and needs of its local market. In the near future, Yochum says the company plans to build a four-bay car wash as well as a Caribou Coffee drive-thru.