How a NY Convenience Store Chain Grew Revenue by 16% with Skupos
Express Mart, the venerable 78-store chain acquired by Speedway last year, was seeking ways to drive tobacco revenue in the hotly competitive market of upstate New York, a region for burdensome tax rates and high tobacco prices.
About Express Mart:
- Founded by Petr-All Petroleum Consulting Corporation in 1975
- Opened first store in 1989 in Dryden, New York
- Purchased by Speedway LLC. in 2018
- Total chain: 78 stores
Key Business Outcomes:
- Increased store revenue by an average of 16%
- Took time consuming work off of Express Mart's plate
- Increased repeat visitors through offering their customers the maximum tobacco discounts
Express Mart, the venerable 78-store chain acquired by Speedway last year, was seeking ways to drive tobacco revenue in the hotly competitive market of upstate New York, a region notorious for burdensome tax rates and high tobacco prices.
While the convenience channel and brick-and-mortar retail segment have struggled to drive greater foot traffic with the fast-paced rise of digital commerce, Express Mart sought to leverage revenue in a different way – from the supply side. To do so, the Syracuse, NY-based operator tapped Skupos, data analytics specialists headquartered in San Francisco.
“We weren’t exactly sure what to expect,”recalled Mike Askwith, former president of Express Mart and a well-respected c-store industry veteran. “We knew we couldn’t ask the customer to pay more for a pack or carton. So, we looked to maximize our partnerships with our tobacco suppliers.”
Skupos records billions of transactions every year in order to provide key tobacco suppliers with scan data reporting in exchange for refunds that go back to the retailer. This technology enables stores to get paid for scan data while gaining access to cheaper tobacco pricing through discount programs similar to that of larger c-store chains. While its sales insights are a benefit to vendors, the cash flow from supplier to retailer via Skupos was one of the major wins for Express Mart, which saw monthly revenue suddenly scale up by 16%. The benefits, however, were much more.
“To be honest, we generally are skeptical about third-party arrangements,” says Tim Gorman, Express Mart’s IT Director. “But this arrangement not only made us money; it also saved us money — and time.”
Gorman went on to explain, “It typically takes us hours each week to format and export our transaction data for IRI. Sometimes there would be errors in our data that would cost us potential revenue. With Skupos, they handle all of the formatting and made the process seamless, taking this work off of our plate to allow my team to focus their attention on in-store initiatives.”
Express Mart is just one of several convenience chains partnering with Skupos to leverage new revenue and labor savings through the company’s scan data platform. Both Gorman and Askwith spoke of another benefit – the ease and lack of business interruption in setting up this new system.
"To be honest, we generally are skptical about third-party arrangements," says Tim Gorman, Express Mart's IT Director. "But this arrangement not only made us money; it also saved us money — and time."
“Typically, it takes us 5-7 minutes to set up each location,” notes Kevin Hodges, Sales Director at Skupos. “In Express Mart’s case, it was even faster.” Express Mart’s POS System links through Skupos’ proprietary software into Skupos’ centralized platform, automatically forwarding all transactions by store. “The entire 78-store setup took less than an hour,” Hodges went on to say, “and Express Mart can now see all this information in a centralized dashboard to ensure a clear view into company-wide performance. It’s a complete win-win for Express Mart and its vendor partners.”
“Skupos provided top-notch service, executing the program quickly, inexpensively, and with a user-friendly interface,” says Holly Shaul, Account Manager at Altria. “Express Mart’s team was able to seamlessly work with Altria to develop and implement the loyalty strategy in-store with clearly defined goals that drove excellent results.”
While the benefits are limited to tobacco sales, for now, Skupos and Mike Askwith (former President of Marketing & Operations at Express Mart — now owned by Speedway) say they’re looking forward to expanding this model to include other in-store categories. “The data is cleaner, the rebates are maximized, and we’re taking the work out of our system,” said Askwith. “Plus, we’re not being asked to do anything we weren’t already trying to accomplish. We couldn’t be happier with the technology and our relationship with Skupos.”
Hodges of Skupos adds, “We’re talking to more CPG companies and demonstrating how this further strengthens the partnership between vendor and retailer. Ultimately, we’ve identified several advantages extending to the end-user while also driving greater c-store traffic.”