Improving Transparency in Your C-Store
See the full published article with artwork here.
In today’s America, Super Bowl scores are available in real time, groceries can be delivered at the touch of a button, the 24-hour news cycle truly never sleeps and information on just about every product on the market is available through a quick Google search — including ingredients, allergen information and updates on the latest food recalls. In addition to all the convenience readily available at our fingertips, instant access to information casts a wider net for consumer criticism. Millennials are surpassing baby boomers as the largest adult population in the United States, and with that the younger generation brings its own trends — among them is the desire to know where their food comes from and if it accommodates the variety of diets and food preferences.
Shoppers are becoming more familiar with their food labels and are
generally more health conscious. According to Mintel, a Londonbased
market research company, nearly half of U.S. consumers cite
health concerns — such as heart health and weight management
— for opting toward healthier alternatives, including plant-based
proteins and natural, organic products. And according to New
York-based data firm Nielsen, U.S. sales of products with transparency
claims — including whole ingredients, clean label, sustainable
and local — have grown 9 percent over the last year and now
represent 31 percent of sales. Whether your c-store specializes in
made-to-order or grab-and-go items, those that offer fresh food
and clear labeling of ingredients and nutrition facts are more likely
to gain — and maintain — millennial customers.
C-store operators can implement the following standards in order to
enhance traceability and transparency in their foodservice practices.
Automated Fresh Food Labeling
Shoppers are busier than ever but still say they are searching for
items both healthy and convenient. And because convenience is in
the name, the c-store industry is investing in new technology across
the board, including mobile and in-store systems. Because at least
25 percent of consumers say they value nutrition information and
healthy ingredients, the label becomes a vital tool for in-store items.
Kitchens across the country, including c-stores, are making labeling
easier with the popular MenuPilot platform by DayMark Safety
Systems. MenuPilot is just one example of ways to manage recipes,
train staff and produce appealing labels for consumers while reducing
costs. Advanced automation can be a powerful tool that not
only helps reduce costs but can compete with supermarkets to meet
the demands of consumers for fresh, convenient foods.
GS1 US Standards Initiative
Collaborate with Suppliers
Several leading c-stores, including 7-Eleven Inc., are collaborating with trading partners through the use of global supply chain standards, specifically the GS1 U.S. Standards, to share data more efficiently through product identification numbers and barcodes. Aiming to share best practices and integrate key business process standards, the Foodservice GS1 U.S. Standards Initiative is a collaborative group comprised of manufacturers, distributors, retailers, foodservice operators and solution providers.
According to GS1, foodservice companies are focusing on three key industry drivers to be relevant and competitive:
• Meeting the information transparency demands of today’s consumers
• Protecting their brand by providing safe and fresh food with effective traceability
• Streamlining operations to eliminate waste and ultimately boost bottom-line results
In addition to reducing redundancy in the supply chain, streamlining operations and improving customer experiences, companies are also able to understand trends, regulations and consumer concerns, while solidifying a unified approach to data sharing that benefits the convenience industry as a whole.
Identify Products and Locations
Many suppliers, distributors and operators identify products and locations by using the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), which can track products by barcode, and Global Location Numbers (GLNs), which can pinpoint supply chain event locations. The global language allows collaborators to capture the information on a barcode and share data electronically with one another, as well as with consumers. By implementing both standards, c-store operators can deliver successful, current information on consumer expectations.
Information Transparency and Traceability
Improved information transparency can increase brand awareness, consumer trust and customer loyalty, often resulting in an increase in sales. With traceability, operators can remove unsafe products quickly and precisely, removing unsafe food from consumer reach while lowering recall costs and protecting your brand’s reputation. Within the GS1-128 barcode, specialized case labels encode the product GTIN while dating codes, batch or lot numbers, onto a case, carton or pallet. The ability to identify units at this level creates ease of access for supply chain partners to manage accurate inventory
tracking in the event of a product recall.
By using GS1 Standards, trading partners can seamlessly share information to support data synchronization, as well as access and exchange transactional and physical data about products moving through the supply chain.
• Master data: The Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) enables immediate electronic sharing of standardized, accurate information.
• Transactional data: Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) enables computer-to-computer exchange of business documents among companies.
• Physical event data: The Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) is a GS1 Standard for capturing and sharing information about the movement and status of products in the physical world, providing data about products, logistics units and other objects.
In addition to c-stores providing valuable and transparent information for in-store products and hot foods, the value of improving product information, traceability and operational efficiencies by using GS1 Standards is not lost on c-store operators and other links in the supply chain nationwide. Establishing a recipe to protect your brand and consumers can help increase transparency while reducing costs and increasing sales. And in this digital age, c-stores can ultimately solidify customer loyalty with a bit of technology’s help.