How did you get your start in the convenience store industry?
My family got into this industry before I was born, so I grew up in it. However, even though I was born into it, this wasn’t what I envisioned myself doing.
My childhood dream was to be a professional basketball player, but I wasn’t able to play. My dad would pull me away from playing with friends to make me work at the station.
I didn’t want anything to do with it to begin with, but after graduating college and starting my own entrepreneurial ventures, I ended up going back into it and never looked back.
Even though I didn’t want to pursue this career early on, I still learned a lot about it and found that I could develop brands and they would gravitate toward me easily.
What do you enjoy about developing brands?
In developing brands, you work with a lot of cool people. We do lots of marketing and event planning with companies, especially on the social media side. Working with that type of messaging and marketing has always been a passion of mine.
The diversity and broad scheme of ways to work in this industry make the job a lot more enticing versus when you look at it as if you’re working at a gas station.
You can work with huge brands like Pepsi and Gatorade, as well as many up and coming brands, which I love.
When people think of distributing to wholesale supermarkets, they think of stores like Costco and Trader Joes, but often forget about the fast, casual experience of a convenience store.
Convenience stores are convenient and are frequented by the vast majority of the general public. Because of this, your brand is able to get more traction. The product is enjoyable, but also happens to be enticing and exciting for impulse buyers.
You can window shop, but convenience store buyers are impulse buyers and go in with the intention of purchasing something. Creating visual graphics and using social media including Instagram and Tik Tok as a means to engage with the consumer helps not only gain traction, but also customer engagement.
How should convenience stores support customers during this pandemic?
We’re seeing more convenience stores coming to customers versus customers coming to us. Digital platforms like food delivery apps have become larger factors in c-stores successfully going to the customers and supporting them.
We used to depend on people driving to the store. Now, we go to the buyer’s house through apps and online programs. This creates a new avenue for convenience stores to have a digital presence.
We’re taking the store online and allowing purchases and other services through a website or social media platform rather than a physical store.
What inspired you to start Invig Consulting?
I saw that there was an opportunity for brands who wanted to gain experience on how to get into a convenience store. It’s a different market than a traditional supermarket or warehouse.
The means of playing in this distribution model is different, and this is what inspired me to start Invig. I found that with my experience, I could help brands get themselves into various distribution channels successfully.
There’s value in this advice.Bridging the gap between having a vision and making it happen was what I wanted to do.
What services does Invig Consulting provide?
We offer a number of services to brands looking to start their journey into convenience stores. We work with marketing, promotion, product development, pricing, and more to successfully break brands into the convenience store scene.
We also perform thorough market research on the brand and products, making sure that we provide the right services for the needs of the brand.
Through our lifetime of experience, we have been able to create numerous success stories, helping us build trust with brands, convenience stores, and store owners in the industry.
What future trends do you see impacting convenience stores?
Definitely solar and electric vehicles are huge trends that are already impacting convenience stores. You have to take into account that electric cars will become the new normal in the next five to 10 years.
How someone refuels their car won’t be dependent on going to a gas station anymore. People will have the option to be at home or in a parking structure charging their car.
Gas stations will have the opportunity to switch over to offering charging stations in the future, but the infrastructure will be so readily available to charge a car, that society won’t need them much longer.
C-stores will lose traffic flow substantially. To keep c-stores afloat, we’ll need to step into the premise of creating and identifying different avenues of income before it’s too late.
What’s the best piece of advice for others trying to thrive in the convenience store industry?
Connect with as many people as you can in this industry. Networking is important in every industry, so by making trusted connections with store owners, brands, and more, will help anyone stepping into the industry thrive.
I’d also say that to be successful in this industry, you need to have a product or solution that truly solves and aids franchises/retailers that are operators of the business.
If you have a consumer product, don’t just create a new water bottle. If you want to create something, make it beneficial to the needs of the people, whether it be for health or the environment.