E360 Outlook: ecoSYS Platform Offers Complete Facility Control and Chain-wide Consistency
Tobacco and gasoline — traditional moneymakers for convenience stores — are producing lower margins than ever as grocery stores, pharmacies and dollar stores extend hours and add product categories. To combat these pressures and generate future growth, convenience store operators are turning to enhanced foodservice offerings, including higher-end fresh and prepared foods.
The strategy is working. Foodservice grew rapidly within the U.S. convenience store segment in 2013, accounting for 18 percent of in-store sales and 29.1 percent of in-store profits.
Chain operators still face challenges, however. Consumer expectations are different for higher-end prepared and fresh foods, and the convenience market has image issues to overcome. One-third of consumers who don’t buy from convenience stores perceive the food to be lower quality.
Overcoming these issues won’t be easy. Most chains have a variety of store configurations, sizes and systems across their enterprise. Increasing demands on associates also leave little time for monitoring, setting and controlling systems that affect the customer experience.
So how can a convenience store create a high-quality, consistent shopping experience that encourages fresh food purchases across dozens or hundreds of stores?
Emerson’s new ecoSYS control system offers a highly flexible distributed platform that allows retailers to economically deploy enterprise class controls for store optimization and remote visibility. The system is capable of managing refrigeration and HVAC units as well as lighting systems, while collecting performance information like refrigerated case temperatures and energy usage data for trending and reporting. Customers can add to their system as their needs change.
The ecoSYS platform can help safeguard food quality through refrigeration monitoring and control while maintaining ideal lighting and store temperatures. Optional enterprise-level controls enable store-to-store consistency, insights for service teams, and relieve store associates of routine system maintenance.
In addition, ecoSYS controls will soon include capabilities for supermarkets, including robust integration with existing facility control systems, addressing pressing concerns in foodservice and food retail.