Dubbed “Distributor of Tomorrow,” C-Store Master is a national distributor of convenience store products specializing in beverage and tobacco products. Located in Huntsville, Alabama, C-Store Master is a recognized leader and one of the most technologically advanced scan-based trading distributors in the country. Effectively a consignment model, Scan-based Trading (or SBT) offers retailers significant financial and cash flow advantages because the distributor owns the inventory until it is scanned at the point-of-sale. But this isn’t a blog about SBT. Rather, it’s about how we created convenience store fixtures and worked with The Design Collaborative to create a unique shopping experience for C-Store Master’s retail customers.
C-Store Master opened a brand-new, state-of-the-art warehouse facility last year to help realize its vision of becoming an industry-leading supply chain partner for its customers, which include more than 4000 independent convenience stores and 6000+ chain stores across 26 states. The 120,000 square foot facility was designed to hold inventory consisting of more than 3,000 fast-selling products. Leveraging the latest robotic technology, C-Store Master’s automated warehouse features more than 70 robots, including a Goods-to-Purchase Picking System and a Bin-to-Person Picking System which combine to enable productivity gains that are 3-4 times higher than a conventional warehouse.
In conjunction with its impressive technology-enabled warehouse, C-Store Master wanted to create an inviting and personalized shopping experience in the retail space it allocated at the front of the warehouse. With so many products to display, C-Store Master needed a lot of high- capacity display cases. We manufactured convenience store shelving units shown below out of MDF with a wood melamine finish. The display cases featured white cabinet liner interiors, glass doors and shelves, and LED lighting.
In addition to display case lighting, overhead lighting helped to brighten the overall shopping environment.
While beverage and tobacco are C-Store Master’s biggest categories, these convenience store shelving units were also used for a variety of other products, including eyewear, as shown below.
In addition to the long rows of display cases, we also made narrow endcap display cases to take advantage of the merchandising opportunities at the end of each row.
The lounge area overlooked the merchandising section of the warehouse front-end, providing retail buyers with an opportunity to relax while the robots busily fulfilled their orders.
We added slatwall panel on the ends of the open shelving rows to create additional merchandising opportunities to display hanging items.
We also built a checkout area that included left and right checkout counters with long metal countertops.
When not perusing the myriad of products available for purchase, buyers could take advantage of the multiple opportunities to see the automated warehouse in action as shown in the photos below which were taken prior to the launch of the warehouse operation.
The C-Store Master project represented an interesting blend of the robotic automation that will play an increasingly important role in the world of retail and distribution as well as more conventional product merchandising that is typically part of a traditional instore shopping experience.
Jim Hollen is the owner and President of RICH LTD. (www.richltd.com), a 35+ year-old California-based point-of-purchase display, retail store fixture, and merchandising solutions firm which has been named among the Top 50 U.S. POP display companies for 9 consecutive years. A former management consultant with McKinsey & Co. and graduate of Stanford Business School, Jim has served more than 3000 brands and retailers over more than 20 years and has authored nearly 500 blogs and e-Books on a wide range of topics related to POP displays, store fixtures, and retail merchandising.
Jim has been to China more than 50 times and has worked directly with more than 30 factories in Asia across a broad range of material categories, including metal, wood, acrylic, injection molded and vacuum formed plastic, corrugated, glass, LED lighting, digital media player, and more. He also oversees RICH LTD.’s domestic manufacturing operation and has experience manufacturing, sourcing, and importing from numerous Asian countries as well as Vietnam and Mexico.
His experience working with brands and retailers spans more than 25 industries such as food and beverage, apparel, consumer electronics, cosmetics/beauty, sporting goods, automotive, pet, gifts and souvenirs, toys, wine and spirits, home improvement, jewelry, eyewear, footwear, consumer products, mass market retail, specialty retail, convenience stores, and numerous other product/retailer categories.