We were recently honored with the prestigious NACS Insight International Convenience Retailer of the Year award. Rutter’s is the first American company to win the award and we were visited by the Retail Vision team and interviewed to tell our story.
Our Vice President of Customer Engagement, Derek Gaskins visits Fox43 for an interview about our recent award, International Convenience Retailer of the Year.
“We’ve been very fortunate to be recognized by both our customers as well as our industry peers as the best not only locally in our Central Pennsylvania marketplace, but also nationally and now internationally,” said Rutter’s CEO, Scott Hartman, “when you consider the impressive companies that entered, we take great pride in winning such a prestigious award and it feels especially great to know that we’re the first chain to bring this recognition home to the US.
Rutter’s Farm Stores, the Pennsylvania, USA-based convenience chain, has won the 2014 NACS Insight International Convenience Retailer of the Year Award, sponsored by Imperial Tobacco.
Judges said Rutter’s delivered a world-class convenience store through its focus on people, technology, rewards and food.
It already has an impressive track record in terms of people development and service. In 2013, the retailer was ranked #1 in Customer Service in Pennsylvania by CSP Magazine and #2 in Customer Service in the United States among chains with fewer than 150 locations.
New technologies abound and include touch screen order kiosks, which enable customised orders of food.
Rutter’s has also developed an industry-leading mobile app. It provides real time fuel prices; directions/maps to each site location; coupons, deals, rewards, payments and lottery results; games, social media integration and check-ins plus opportunities for customer feedback and store specific menus.
There’s also a mobile wallet, which provides targeted offers that are added instantly to the customer’s wallet, removing the need for a card to participate in a loyalty programme.
The food offer is another key component in Rutter’s success and is based on offering premium, fresh ingredients.
Rutter’s introduced the ‘walking taco’ to the c-store industry in March 2012. The venture was reported to be so successful for Frito-Lay, it changed its packaging to accommodate other retailers looking to add a walking taco to their menu.
In another innovative supplier partnership, Rutter’s has launched signature food items, including Red Bull fruit smoothies.
From an environmental perspective, Rutter’s was the first US c-store chain to start a voluntary recycling programme.
Bins decorate the exterior of each of its 60 stores and Rutter’s customers, as well as people from the surrounding community, can bring newspapers, bottles and cans to any of the sites to be recycled.
Judges said Rutter’s ticked all of the boxes and then some.
Ramon Kuijpers, international key accounts manager at Awards sponsor, Imperial Tobacco, said: “Rutter’s clearly recognises people make all the difference. Building on its heritage, it “lives and breathes” this every day throughout every aspect of the business.
“Rutter’s perfectly blends traditional values with modern marketing solutions, putting shopper needs first. Given its successful and sustainable sales track record, customers clearly acknowledge this.”
Joe Bona, president, retail division, CBX, was equally impressed.
“The QSR modeled food format and quality ingredients combined with world class operations and best in class social and mobile technology make Rutter’s a real standout in the competitive field of convenience retailing,” he said.
“Proprietary initiatives like their “Remember me” ordering technology that tracks your previous 12 purchases helps to improve speed of service and facilitates the ordering process. The company’s green initiatives and industry recognition for customer service and mobile technology make them an ideal best practice retailer.”
BP was highly commended for the revitalisation of its BP M&S Simply Food offer with a new, customer-led proposition.
Launched in 2013, the upgrade sets a new standard for premium convenience and foodservice and is based on analysis of Nectar data.
The new proposition features a contemporary on-the-move coffee shop, which is famous for great coffee and high quality hot food; with fast, friendly and efficient service.
The store design and layout was enhanced so that as customers enter the store, they can clearly see all the offer elements and the Wild Bean Café is the clear focal point of the offer.
In terms of product quality, BP has upgraded every single product it sells in Wild Bean Café with the highest quality ingredients.
The percentage of customers scoring the new offer nine or 10/10 has increased from 43% to 75% and BP has seen strong increases in the penetration of its three target customer groups.
Judges praised BP for not standing still and developing its product offer and environment to meet changing customer needs.
Bona at CBX said: “The strength of the M&S brand is what allows this BP concept to become much more than a typical convenience store.
“The range is well above and beyond what you would expect to find in a standard convenience offering, making this a unique destination for food for now and food for later.
“The fresh range is of high quality and provides extensive meal solutions throughout all day parts. The warmth and authentic use of textured materials make Wild Bean Café a featured and complementary department for busy customers on the go and, having a separate till, provides even greater convenience for customers.”
The expert judging panel was also keen to acknowledge the calibre of this year’s field, describing it as “a complete mix of entries with formats and models to suit all types of locations, structures, environment and, most important, customer needs”.
Kuijpers at Imperial Tobacco said: “In the daily battle to win the shoppers’ hearts, minds and share of wallet, all entries showed the highest level of retail expertise and passion.”
“It was great to see such a high standard of entries again this year and in fact a great geographical spread,” said Frank Gleeson, managing director at Aramark Food Services.
Bart Maas, head of key accounts & sales strategy projects at Imperial Tobacco, agreed. “First of all I would like to congratulate all participating finalists because they’re all formidable retailers who’re making a huge difference each in their own way,” he said.
Stephanie Rice, founder of Rice Retail Marketing, was struck by the clear merging of retail and food service.
“Differentiation for convenience is all about food quality, fresh preparation and individual service, whether the toppings on a sandwich, the strength of a barista coffee, freshly baked pastries or menus that change throughout the day,” she said.
“Health is a growing consideration and is leading to innovative solutions of self service frozen yogurt, salad bars and formats that are being re-engineered to attract more female shoppers.
“Service continues to be key and retailers are engaging with customers through mobile technology which is quick and relevant or through self serve options.”
Joe Boyle, director at last year’s winner, Freshstop, Fruit & Veg City in South Africa, also found the fresh, healthier and wholesome categories were very prominent with a few new innovations on the traditional c-store offers.
Boyle said the fuel retailers are bringing new dynamics to building structures and canopies, while stores are becoming much more inviting, friendly and stylish.
Joe Barrett, chief operations officer at Applegreen, another previous Award winner, agreed: “All advanced retailers are investing in their stores to enhance the overall customer experience,” he said.
“Once a customer is comfortable in a store they will spend more. Overall store investment benefits the industry as a whole as it encourages more customers to use service stations as the location of choice for their convenience goods needs.”
June 4, 2014, live from London, Rutter’s was chosen by a panel of industry experts, business leaders and trade publishers as the 2014 International Convenience Retailer of the Year.
The first American company to win this award!
The panel considered entries from 14 retailers from 3 continents before awarding us the honor. Each entrant was evaluated on criteria such as format innovation, technology, loyalty and payment systems, range of growth in new categories and services, people development and customer service.
Companies from 29 countries and 5 continents were in attendance for the awards ceremony, which took place at the NACS Insight Convenience Summit in London, United Kingdom. National Association of Convenience Stores, NACS, is the international association for convenience and fuel retailing.
A big thank you to ALL Rutter’s employees, for what you do every day to help make Rutter’s the best!