'The Way They Like It'

Company culture and focus on customers come together at new Thorntons store.

By
John Zikias, Vice president of marketing

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As we at Thorntons evolve our retail model to meet changing consumer needs, we have solidified our retail strategy, refined our core values and documented our essential purpose.

The result of this ongoing process is our latest store design, anchored in an approximately 3,700-square- foot layout and centering on robust dispensed hot and cold beverages, foodservice and snacks.

Let’s first talk about the fountain. Our new design puts greater theater into the fountain. We’ve added important counter space to give customers more room to prepare drinks the way they would like, giving them greater control over the toppings and variety. The focus on allowing our customers to “Make UR Mix!” ensures that each customer experience is unique and meets or exceeds his or her expectations—not mine or yours, but theirs.

Our dispensed beverages are bolstered by two Cornelius 16-flavor fountain dispensers; fountain flavor shots to enhance the fountain offer; fresh-brewed sweet and unsweetened tea; Icee; and frozen noncarbonated drinks.

But we’re not just about cold beverages. Our coffee center lets consum-ers add fresh real whipped cream and flavored toppings such as chocolate and caramel. This offering is unique in the convenience channel and dif-ferentiates Thorntons coffee from many other coffee retailers, not only in the convenience channel but also in the broader market.

This wide variety of hot, cold and frozen beverages ensures that con-sumers’ needs are met to quench their thirst, start their day or provide an afternoon treat. In the store, the larger presence and organization of bever-ages is supported by a “beverage land-ing area.” This area allows customers to move away from the dispensing area and prepare their drink just the way they like it.

FRESH IDEAS

Another area of focus for the new store design is fresh food supported by made-fresh-daily sandwiches, sal-ads, fresh cut and whole fruit, and an assortment of new and popular snacks and treats. Our customers have told us they are seeking a variety of products to meet various needs throughout the day, so the company’s offer reflects this request.

 To accommodate the needs of our consumers, we have added a larger open-air refrigerated case that is very visible and easily accessible as consumers enter the store. The fresh sandwich program is supported by a large selection of hot sandwiches for breakfast and lunch, roller-grill meat and enrobed products and a fresh condiment “fixins” bar. The extensive line of fresh food, strengthened by a rich assortment of fresh snacks and condiments, enables consumers to select their favorite product any time of the day and fix it just the way they like it.

Other enhancements to the new store design include a larger selection of snacks and confection products; a larger beer vault; and a unique, open layout that makes shopping easy. That said, there are several other areas Thorntons has focused on to enhance the shopping experience.

WHY WE ‘CARROT’

Fundamentally, we believe the best way to take care of customers is to first take care of our team. This is reinforced by our culture of respect for each other and the attitude that everyone counts. This openness allows us to reassess ideas and engage in healthy debates before programs are initiated or imple-mented. Likewise, the team believes in a strong recognition program that encourages team members to “try and catch someone doing something good.” The focus on recognition was supported in the past year with all of our field and store support-center management team attending a semi-nar with Chester Elton of O.C. Tanner, who co-authored the best-selling book “The Carrot Principle.” We openly rec-ognize our team members and display our recognition pins proudly.

This inner focus has allowed the company to recognize each other as well as others in the communities we serve. For example, our management team in November participated in a humanitarian effort at Fort Knox mili-tary base, during which we donated and assembled 100 bicycles for chil-dren of many of the troops for the holiday season. We also assembled and donated more than 3,000 care packages to be sent with the Fort Knox troops when they were deployed to Afghanistan in January.

The focus on fresh food, bever-ages and snacks, supported by team member recognition and respect, has helped our team ensure that we meet our shopper’s needs on every visit, making shopping at Thorntons a unique experience.

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