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Posts from the ‘Convenience Store’ Category

Refrigeration Strategies for Enabling Flexible Merchandising

AndrePatenaude_Blog_Image Andre Patenaude | Director, Food Retail Marketing & Growth Strategy, Cold Chain

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

The practice of rotating inventory in customer-facing product displays is often referred to as “flexible merchandising”. In a recent E360 article, I explained how refrigeration equipment is becoming more mobile to help food retailers implement this strategy. Read the full article here.

In today’s competitive food retail markets, flexible merchandising strategies provide opportunities to give customers the sense that there’s always something new to discover. Whether to highlight seasonal offerings, promote flash sales or maintain a vibrant store appearance, it’s a proven method of keeping customers engaged and coming back. To implement this strategy, grocers need flexibility in their display cases with the ability to move and rotate offerings as needed. The challenge comes when these products need to be refrigerated, because many traditional refrigeration systems don’t support that desired flexibility.

Refrigeration fixtures will need at least some degree of mobility to be viable in a flexible merchandising strategy. But in many cases, refrigeration architectures are often inherently incompatible with a flexible approach. Many have fixed-case layouts where fixtures and piping are literally affixed into the store’s floorplan with pre-determined insets. Traditional centralized direct expansion (DX) refrigeration systems also don’t lend themselves to refrigerated display case flexibility.

What are your refrigeration options for flexible merchandising?

With changing retailer preferences and market trends in mind, there are several viable refrigeration architectures available today. Let’s look at a few.

Distributed — this strategy is based on installing outdoor condensing units (“OCUs”) that allow them to be strategically located outside of a facility to support the addition of spot merchandising cases. Often utilized by smaller-format stores, this approach makes it easier for operators to scale their refrigeration system to the needs of the store. Modern OCUs are quiet, energy-efficient and offer installation flexibility while leaving small physical footprints outside the store. Keep in mind that OCUs are typically installed to support refrigerated fixtures in different zones, so their flexibility is limited to a particular zone.

Micro-distributed — featuring display cases that have the compressors integrated within the case, this emerging system type is becoming more common, especially in smaller-format stores. To remove the exhaust heat, cases are connected to a shared water-cooled loop that’s directed to the roof of the facility. These systems utilize a variety of low-GWP refrigerants at low charges, including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs) and hydrocarbons such as R-290. The integrated case with water loop design enables a greater degree of merchandising flexibility, but does not quite achieve true mobility.

Self-contained — for maximum merchandising flexibility, these display cases incorporate the entire refrigeration system within the case — essentially serving as plug-and-play refrigerated units on wheels. These smaller refrigeration systems typically do not require large refrigerant charges, and are designed to use a variety of low-GWP HFC, HFO and R-290 refrigerant options. For a large-format store with a centralized DX system, incorporating self-contained display cases is a logical means of achieving refrigerated case flexibility.

As refrigeration technologies evolve to address changing industry dynamics, look for emerging system architectures that will help retailers meet the needs for flexible merchandising and smaller store footprints.

Using Site Supervisor to Boost Business

Reggie O'Donoghue_Blog Reggie O’Donoghue | Director of Electronics, Product Management
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Convenience store managers are tasked with juggling several different responsibilities at once, sometimes feeling like focusing on one aspect of the business leads another to falter. Keeping customers happy calls for offering new, fresh food options, a comfortable and welcoming shopping environment and more. Managing sustainable performance of HVAC, lighting and refrigeration systems requires operators to determine ways they can incorporate new technology and systems without forking over an arm and a leg in installation costs.

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Emerson’s Site Supervisor is here to assist with the balancing act. Site Supervisor is a facility control platform that can help retailers improve operational efficiencies and maximize food quality through innovative and constant monitoring that can be accessed at the palm of a retailer’s hand. Using equipment controls and sensors, operators can monitor key metrics within the building, and utilize IoT technologies to connect buildings to cloud-based services, providing remote access to equipment from off-site.

With consumer expectations becoming more and more diversified, as well as the demand for fresh, ready-to-eat food options, maintaining temperature compliance from refrigeration systems is a top priority. Up until now, this meant that store staff were required to continuously monitor and report on equipment conditions and operation. Now, with Site Supervisor, these tedious tasks can be automated and, more importantly, made reliable. With Site Supervisor feeding valuable data to store managers, these managers can focus more on assisting customers and building relationships.

Managers can also set up priority alerts that provide nearly instant visibility of unsatisfactory operating conditions; and can make timely corrective actions that provide detailed information about the incident. Managers and servicers can view this information on a convenient and easy-to-navigate drill down screen on their mobile device, tablet or laptop. That means issues can be resolved quickly, remotely and efficiently. Managers can then take the data provided by Site Supervisor to develop a more proactive prevention process, adjusting operations to prevent future incidents. Retailers can also pair Site Supervisor with Emerson’s ProAct services to gain even more operational insight.

All of this data can be hosted through Emerson’s cloud-based services or through local, on-site hosting. With the ability to control, monitor and optimize operations at your fingertips from a platform that is easy to install and navigate, managers can better balance their daily operations and optimize their store functions. Continuous alarm diagnosis and issue resolution can help turn a stressful situation into a learning opportunity, with the issue being resolved quickly and a bank of data provided to help prevent it in the future.

For more information on Site Supervisor, view this short video.

C-Store Trends Through 2025

Dean Landeche_Blog Dean Landeche | Vice President of Marketing , Cold Chain
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

I sat down with the editors of Convenience Store Decisions to discuss trends that will be shaping the future of U.S. convenience stores. Zandi Brehmer, head of client innovation at global research firm Euromonitor International, joined the conversation. Emerson commissioned Euromonitor to identify trends through 2025.

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Focus on the customer

Retailers in this space are obviously concerned with convenience, but we are seeing an increased interest in cultivating customer relationships. Shifting the focus on the consumers from the checkout to when they enter a store may generate a big payoff. Modern technological systems such as wireless sensors in c-stores can potentially free up staff to focus on higher-value customer interactions. As these solutions become more prevalent, convenience stores can become more nimble to address the changing needs of their customer base.

Experiential retail

Driven by a digital revolution and rapidly changing consumer expectations, convenience operators are turning to new strategies to stay competitive. As product offerings are becoming more interchangeable, the shopping experience is a differentiator for retailers. Recent studies show that 78% of millennials would rather spend money on a desirable experience than on goods.

Supply chain management

Finally, better inventory management will likely distinguish convenience store operations in the future. Not only does new technology enable retailers to track inventory, but to learn who’s buying what.

For more information on these and other trends, read the full article here. You can see the Euromonitor presentation on Retail and Foodservice Trends 2025 here.

Dean Landeche, Vice President of Marketing and Retail Solutions

 

 

 

 

 

Convenience Store Decisions: Gaining Operational Efficiency from BMS Insight

ronchapek_2 Ron Chapek | Director of Product Management, ProAct Enterprise Software Services

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

As convenience stores continue to evolve to adapt to changing customer demands and infrastructure and facility requirements, operators are under increasing pressure to gain operational efficiencies. Of growing importance in this effort are the intelligent applications that allow operators to effectively use the data gathered by building management systems (BMS) and environmental monitoring systems (EMS).

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The challenge of building intelligent applications is to effectively convert rapidly expanding and disparate data sources into visually insightful, prescriptive, actionable and value-adding graphical interfaces across multiple stakeholder departments with a diverse range of usage and persona types. Historically, the static application data was gathered or delivered late, making it hard to determine the action to take. Now with intelligent applications, you have the ability to make decisions and take actions faster on more current data.

Before you can take advantage of these new intelligent applications there are four building blocks to consider putting in place:

  1. Modern Data Architecture that delivers access to a wide variety of data at high velocity and scale.
  2. Advanced Analytics, the science of using a wide variety of data to understand factors that impact customer experience.
  3. Smart Devices all gathering data and sending it through the architecture.
  4. Real-Time Business making decisions in real-time.

Before you take the first step in your intelligent application, think about the business value. Then you will be in a position to effectively use the data to increase operational efficiencies.

For more information, read the full article in Convenience Store Decisions online here.

C-Store Technology Gets Convenient with the Internet of Things

I recently wrote an article for Convenience Store Decisions discussing how convenience stores can leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected technology to improve operations.

Just as the Internet has revolutionized the everyday lives of consumers, IoT is transforming operational performance for convenience stores. Convenience store retailers grow more agile with the use of IoT because they can access and analyze data insights to improve operations.

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As convenience store retailers expand their foodservice offerings to increase revenue, store environments are becoming more complex. By integrating all facility systems under one platform, retailers can optimize store operations, reduce energy consumption, lower equipment downtime and decrease maintenance costs.

The move toward IoT and more intelligent, connected stores can be beneficial to convenience store retailers in these three ways:

  1. Equipment control and monitoring
    Utilizing connected facility technology, a convenience store operator can remotely monitor critical equipment across an entire chain of stores. This performance data enables improved equipment, maintenance and energy efficiency. Retailers receive real-time alerts of potential problems that can help reduce maintenance costs and avoid equipment failure.
  1. Efficient, accurate equipment updates
    By connecting equipment with the latest facility management technology, convenience stores can remotely upgrade their systems with the latest software, even in the case of legacy equipment.
  1. Safeguarding fresh foods
    Connected store equipment can provide real-time temperature monitoring and other important data to maintain food safety and quality, which is becoming more critical with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Intelligent connected facility technologies are already installed in many retail environments – using building controls for lighting and HVACR, in the back of the house and within the foodservice areas. Integrating the data from all facility systems through IoT enables stores to improve operational efficiency and enhance equipment performance.

You can read the full article online here.

For more than 20 years, Emerson Retail Solutions has been helping businesses like yours safeguard food, reduce energy consumption, protect the environment and optimize business results. To learn more about our technology solutions and services for retailers, visit our website.


Paul Hepperla
Vice President, North American Solution Sales
Retail Solutions
Emerson Commercial and Residential Solutions

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