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Blog Post
  • Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods was the major headline of the retail world this summer and even for the entire year. However, a significant sub-headline was Amazon’s entry into the meal kit space. Grocery stores now have two fronts—an Internet giant that’s working to competitively slash grocery prices and independent meal kit companies like Blue Apron. It’s a challenging environmen...

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Blog Post
  • As we approach the 2017 NACS Show at McCormick Place in Chicago this week, there is positive news circling in the convenience store industry. Food sales are driving overall sales in convenience stores, according to a survey of U.S. retailers released by NACS. This may not be surprising given that fresh, convenient food has been a center-stage hot topic over the past few years. What may...

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Blog Post
  • Ever since the Amazon-Whole Foods deal was announced, Kroger has been under a media and market microscope. How would the U.S.’s largest supermarket chain (by revenue) react to such news? And how would the market react? Unfortunately for Kroger, its stock has lost more than 38% of its value year-to-date. But Kroger is making it clear that when it comes to innovation, it won’t be backed...

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Blog Post
  • The most challenging part of auditing your restaurant chain for operational consistency isn’t the collection of data—it’s the analysis and follow-up. Operators used to spend weeks deciphering data and navigating options. New mobile technology turns weeks into seconds. Earlier this year, I was in a restaurant where a window shattered. It was an unexpected result of a heat lamp fighting...

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  • IBM continues to scale up its blockchain efforts, teaming up with some of the biggest names in the food industry. Participants include Walmart, Kroger, Nestlé, Unilever, Tyson Foods, Dole, Golden State Foods, and McCormick. Many are directly competitive, but joining forces for the public cloud computing project. According to IBM, a pilot study with Walmart that began in Oct. 2016 reve...

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Blog Post
  • The worst hurricane season of the decade is in full force. Hurricane Harvey pummeled the Houston area last week, leaving at least 60 dead, millions homeless, and billions of dollars in damage in its wake. As FEMA runs out of money, another record-breaking Category 5, Hurricane Irma, barrels up the Caribbean, setting it’s sights on the greater Southeastern United States.

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  • When it’s time to refuel, where do you go? A decade a go, you likely chose based on gas prices. Now when that light pops up, it triggers an almost Pavlovian response: perhaps you crave a taco at Sunoco, or breakfast bowl from QuickTrip… Gas stations are the new quick-service restaurants. According to a recent NACS study, 42% of drivers go into the store when fueling up, a 7-point jump ...

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  • “There’s no such thing as bad publicity…” except in the restaurant industry. Food safety and cleanliness concerns destroy brand value. This is not a new concept. However, operators now have the additional burden of protecting their brands against negative comments on social media and bad reviews on sites like Yelp, Google Review, and Trip Advisor. A paper published by Harvard Business...

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Blog Post
  • “Increasing organizational accountability” is often a lauded phrase in restaurant and retail operations. The goal is to empower employees so operators don’t need to micromanage their stores - they can rest assured that every location is running efficiently. But what does organizational accountability actually look like and how is it measured? One particularly difficult aspect of organ...

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  • Operators are increasingly focused on loss prevention, and for good reason - retail shrinkage is increasing. Products are disappearing from shelves faster than you can one-click order that same product on Amazon - the other threat to brick and mortar retailers. The annual National Retail Security Survey from the University of Florida analyzed retail shrinkage in the United States. Fou...

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  • Marketplace differentiation is an increasingly hot topic in retail as it relates to innovative merchandising and value proposition. What’s not? Sterile big-box retail. This was a key revelation from STORES magazine’s Hot 100 Retailers, which ranks the fastest-growing retailers based on sales. Four of the top five companies listed are e-commerce businesses, with Walmart, Target, Costco...

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Page Design Update
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  • I don’t usually get to answer the headline prompt in the first line of a blog post, but here it is… Dig deeper and don’t settle for the status quo. That’s the overriding philosophy of writing questions for retail audits, but now for the more practical approach: What do you actually ask on the survey and/or forms of the audit? Below are some examples of how mobile solutions like Ze...

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Blog Post
  • The impact of millennials on the restaurant industry is an increasingly common topic of conversation. “Casual dining is in danger—and Millennials are to blame,” reports Business Insider in an article entitled “Millennials are killing chains like Buffalo Wild Wings and Applebee’s.” The article notes that this blame game has become cliché in retail. If you look at The EquiTrend Report f...

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  • I’m very loyal to a local fast food restaurant and, on average, I’m a monthly patron. On my most recent visit, everything was on point with the food, as per usual. But there was something else that slightly soured my experience. The customer service was legitimately unfriendly and contradicted the brand’s messaging. On the side of the truck, there is a photo of the founder smiling, yet...

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  • Customers have all been there. That disappointing experience at their favorite c-store or restaurant that makes them question all they know to be true in life. Well OK, maybe that’s a bit dramatic. But it is a disappointment when it happens, and it can make them think twice about returning—at least to that location. An alternative scenario is when a customer knows that one location ma...

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Blog Post
  • Source: DesignBuzz.com From Wi-Fi and digital menu boards in Wendy’s to growing lines at the automated checkout in Target, technology is increasingly present in retail environments.   To quote a friend’s photo caption of an Amazon Books store in Manhattan: “But why?”. To me, the better question is, “Why not?”. In the case of Amazon, the retailer’s decision starts to make more sense w...

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Blog Post
  • Yelp, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin - dissatisfied customers have plenty of options when it comes to venting about poor customer service. Papa John’s is the latest target in these increasingly public complaints. The incident reveals issues endemic to the fragmented franchise environment - holes in communication between the operator and franchisees. And the company’s response provides a s...

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Blog Post
  • Image source: wabagrill.com The relationship between a franchisor and a franchisee is much like a human relationship. You want to strive for a healthy, co-dependency built on open communication and mutual respect. You don’t want it to be needy, possessive, or insecure as a result of poor communication. That kind of operational environment can make one of the parties want to either loc...

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Blog Post
  • Image Source: Google While other pizza chains struggle, Domino’s is thriving (Over 1300% stock price increase since IPO in 2004). That’s the subhed of this story on investment site The Motley Fool. Shares of Domino’s Pizza jumped more than 11% in October, according to data by S&P Global Market Intelligence. The pizza chain jumped 13% in same-store sales in the third quarter, making ...

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Blog Post
  • Arby’s is planning an expansion into Canada. Grimaldi’s pizza expands to United Arab Emirates. Carl’s Jr. opens its first location in Chile. Papa John’s plans to open 20 stores in Morocco. These are just some of the global franchising news we’ve encountered in the last few weeks. It’s truly amazing what globalization and high-speed communication has done to the food franchisee comm...

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Blog Post
  • “Expect problems and eat them for breakfast.” – Alfred Montapert I think this is one of the most inspirational quotes for franchisees. Not just because it’s food related, but because it’s the truth of the business they know. Foodservice franchises, whether they are restaurants or convenience stores, are a messy business to manage. Food safety is its own realm, not to mention the expec...

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Blog Post
  • Has McDonald’s finally hit its stride with its newly announced menu items? Analyst Andrew Strelzik of BMO Capital Markets thinks so. From a stock perspective, he believes that McDonald’s is on pace to reach its 2019 objectives, which includes a cash return to shareholders. Finally, some good projections for the Golden Arches. When it comes down to it, a $22 to $24 billion cash return...

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Zenput
Blog Post
  • I’ve said this in the past, but it’s worth repeating: at Zenput, we are practitioners of reality. We are the real-time operational insights provider through our mobile software solution. Our customers in the convenience store, restaurant, retail, and CPG spaces realize our value as they customize our platform to fit their own unique operational needs. We’re always talking about real-li...

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Zenput
Blog Post
  • One of my least favorite phrases is “victim of its own success.” For instance, I remember that was the reason why a popular fireworks show on a riverbank was canceled. It was so popular and drew such large crowds that the police couldn’t handle the public safety demands. It became too costly—a victim of its own success. I don’t know about you, but if a program is going to fail, I alwa...

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