Design • 22.05.2017

Quinoa salad and fresh-baked bread from the gas station

Lekkerland tests a store concept that emphasizes freshness and an integrated design

Once upon a time, gas stations were just gas stations. A little later, they were the last resort to buy beer and cigarettes when all the other stores were closed. Nowadays, gas stations stand out with baked goods, fresh salads, and smoothies and give bakeries and supermarkets a run for their money.

Making gas stations more profitable by significantly improving the customer experience – that’s the objective of a new concept tested by Lekkerland, which was presented in June 2016 at the UNITI Expo trade fair for the retail petroleum and car wash sector. At the end of the same year, two stores were launched in Bergedorf (Hamburg) and Aalen under the name ”Frischwerk“. More test stores are planned. iXtenso spoke with Frank Fleck, Director of Strategy and Business Development at Lekkerland about the development.

Aalen: Wood and warm colors determine the design of the new gas station concept....
Aalen: Wood and warm colors determine the design of the new gas station concept.
Source: Lekkerland

Mr. Fleck, while redesigning its gas and service station store concept, Lekkerland has conducted extensive consumer and trend research. What do customers really want?

Frank Fleck: Above all, customers want a modern gas and service station store that meets their needs and expectations. Initially, this refers to the overall appearance and the feeling consumers get when they shop at the gas station and it primarily consists of the store design and cleanliness but also the competence and friendliness of employees.

In addition, the demand for fresh and ready-to-eat products is increasing. That’s also why gas and service stations should adapt their product line to the needs of their customers and offer a wide variety of food service items for example. This also includes packaged fresh products like fresh salads, wraps, sandwiches or desserts. Another trend that has been around in other countries for quite some time is the concept of “food for later“. This refers to freshly prepared dishes, whose quality matches “home-cooked” meals and which customers only have to reheat at home or at the office.

What’s more, services offered at gas station shops such as click & collect, lotteries and sweepstakes, mail and package services, cash machines or even dry cleaning services are also gaining in popularity. Nowadays, consumers are generally pressed for time and a gas station has one crucial advantage: it has long business hours, is often open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, has sufficient parking and customers are able to quickly and easily do their shopping.

More than ever, today’s gas station operators need to know their competition. At best, many tenants compare themselves to the gas station next door. However, that is no longer sufficient. The main competitors for the store are fast food places such as bakeries, quick-service restaurants, and even discounters that offer convenience foods.

Photo
Source: Lekkerland

What are the essential characteristics of your new “Frischwerk“ food service concept?

We opted to integrate a bakery that offers a full range of products consisting of bread, rolls, cakes and pastries and created the "Backschmiede" (English: Breadsmith) brand. Especially in Germany, bakeries are known for their quality products but at this point they are also seen as venues that offer an extended range of ready-to-eat snacks. In the run-up to the launch, we conducted a lot of research and talked to suppliers. As a result, we offer bread varieties that are able to match freshly baked bread from traditional bakeries in a blind taste test.

Our new line of fresh products also includes packaged items such as wraps, sandwiches or trendy salads made with quinoa and bulgur. These products are sold under our own “Go Fresh“ store brand. It primarily caters to customers, who are in a hurry and want to take their snack home or to the office.

We also revamped the candy treat bag you used to be able to create yourself at a kiosk and now call it ”Pick & Mix“. Instead of bags, we provide cups to hold the candy and which fit into the respective car cup holders. Due to hygiene reasons, we are not able to offer bulk items and have opted for small individually wrapped brand products.

Aalen: miniaturised sweets
Aalen: miniaturised sweets
Source: Lekkerland

What other improvements were made to the traditional gas station business?

Within the scope of a new store design, we partnered with a design agency and studied food service and convenience store concepts across Europe, the U.S., and Australia. Based on this knowledge and our consumer surveys, we subsequently developed the design. We call it a cross between “farmhouse and industrial style" since wood and steel elements play a key role. The style blends in nicely with the setting of gas stations, since they are often associated with attributes such as “crafty and industrial".

The distinction between the classic tobacco and fuel section and the food service area is another basic concept we implemented in both stores. Each of these two areas has its own checkout. In addition, there are always two associates on site who are differentiated by their outfit and expertise and match the corresponding section. At this point, I would like to point out that especially female gas station patrons raised concerns over the responsibility of associates. That’s why we established rules the staff must observe. The staff member of the gas station area is solely responsible for this particular area and must not attend to customers in the food service section. This is a quintessential requirement we discerned from our consumer surveys.

In the traditional gas station area, we adapted the product presentation, especially as it pertains to magazines, alcoholic beverages, and wine. Instead of leaving an empty space above the shelf, we now showcase wines all the way up to the ceiling, for example, thereby once again creating an entirely different ambiance.

Aalen: The Lekker Mal Drei offer with a broad range....
Aalen: The "Lekker Mal Drei" offer with a broad range.
Source: Lekkerland

Gas stations are known for their infamously high prices, especially when it comes to food items. How do you ensure great product choices?

We discovered a solution that has actually already been standard for many years in British convenience stores of Tesco or Sainsbury’s, for example – it’s called the “meal deal”. In our case, this option includes a main dish, a snack or dessert plus a beverage. The products are presented right next to each other. Given a choice between 10 to 20 items per category, there are many conceivable combinations, thus increasing the likelihood of pleasing the customer’s palate. Customers create their own meal and pay a fixed price of 4.99 Euros. These types of concepts keep the absolute value for the tenant at a great level at a cost that’s attractive from the consumer’s perspective. Needless to say, this also means that the gross profit margin per item is significantly lower. However, the fact that customers purchase three products results in absolute gains for the tenants, which are higher than if the customer would not buy anything or purchased just one product.

Hamburg: The new shop concept offers significantly more fresh products....
Hamburg: The new shop concept offers significantly more fresh products.
Source: Lekkerland

Is training required because hygiene requirements increase thanks to the expanded food service variety?

Yes, the requirements are definitely increasing, because the complexity also increases, especially when it comes to food service. That is why we developed our own basic training program and manuals. In addition, we offer on-site training with Lekkerland employees and assist the staff in its implementation. 

Where do you currently see further optimization potential and what are your next steps?

When it comes to the “meal deal“, we definitely still have a little ways to go. This type of offer still needs to become more attractive and understandable in Germany to be accepted by the end customer. That’s why we have already made several adjustments to the product line and communication. Generally, the separated sections are very well received. We already see double-digit growth in the food service area. 

By now, we were able to gain a lot of insights, which we will incorporate into our next test stores. The next step is to test this concept in smaller gas and service stations that are between 50 and 70 square meters in size. A dry cleaning service is also in the planning stages. By the end of 2017, we will definitely have gained a new and deeper level of understanding and will be able to determine what works and what doesn‘t.

Author: Melanie Günther, iXtenso

related articles:

popular articles:

Thumbnail-Photo: retail trends 3/2018
01.10.2018   #customer relationship management #shop planing

retail trends 3/2018

Topics: retail technology, content management, lighing, interior design, and many more

Have a look at our printed edition as an e-paper. Desire for real paper? We will send you the latest issue. Inquiries to: service@iXtenso.com  Your iXtenso team   ...

Thumbnail-Photo: What shop design can look like: Harrods in London...
01.08.2018   #shop building #lighting concepts

What shop design can look like: Harrods in London

Tradition, luxury, and elegance paired with an experience for all five senses

The world-famous Harrods department store in London is pulling out all the stops for its renovations and features precious materials and custom-designed shopfittings. Harrods’ fully re-designed "Fine Wines & Spirits" and ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Christmas tree alternatives: Christmas decorating tips, part 5...
31.10.2018   #shop decoration #seasonal business

Christmas tree alternatives: Christmas decorating tips, part 5

The classic among holiday decorations

In these parts, Christmas trees are the quintessential symbols of the Christmas season. They prompt children and adults to get into the Christmas spirit. Yet a live fir tree has two major disadvantages: it takes up a lot of space and drops its ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Store design for adventurers and those who have a sweet tooth...
19.09.2018   #shop building #shopfitting

Store design for adventurers and those who have a sweet tooth

Storck-Welt and PME Legend at Centro Oberhausen

The Centro Oberhausen, the largest leisure and shopping center in Europe, houses unique stores. Among them the Storck-Welt and PME Legend. With their unique and individual designs, they are an eye-catcher for every customer. In the report, we show ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Showroom-like stores could overthrow the basis for retail rents...
24.08.2018   #brick and mortar retail #real estate

Showroom-like stores could overthrow the basis for retail rents

Traffic and customer data could trump traditional measures

If present trends continue, retail rents might one day be based on traffic and customers rather than traditional metrics such as sales per square foot or percentage rent, observes Mike Harris, Managing Director of CREModels, in a new column for ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Precision Meets Top Performance
13.09.2018   #printers #scales

Precision Meets Top Performance

Bizerba at the POST-EXPO 2018

Bizerba will present products in the weighing and label sector at this year’s POST-EXPO trade show (Hamburg, Germany, October 9-11). In hall B2, booth 145 of this world-leading trade show dedicated to the mail and parcel service industry, ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Christmas gnomes on the loose: Christmas decorating tips, part 7...
12.11.2018   #shop decoration #seasonal business

Christmas gnomes on the loose: Christmas decorating tips, part 7

Playful: Ways to delight children - and adults alike

The Christmas season can be stressful for adults. Planning ahead for the holidays, getting ready for family visits, buying gifts and getting your house sparkling clean for your guests – all of this leaves little room for festive joy and ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Attention to detail: Window shopping in Monforte de Lemos and Ourense...
13.09.2018   #lighting concepts #decorative lighting

Attention to detail: Window shopping in Monforte de Lemos and Ourense

The Northern Spaniards have realized that a great store window display doesn’t have to break the bank

Summer vacation is over but the summer impressions remain. Like those garnered from a visit to Galicia in Spain’s northern region. If you venture deeper into Spain’s heartland between a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela and a beach ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Faux rust effect: Christmas decorating tips, part 6...
06.11.2018   #shop decoration #seasonal business

Faux rust effect: Christmas decorating tips, part 6

Make yourself comfortable by the fireplace

Accessories featuring a faux rusted (industrial) look are right on trend. Metal is given the look of rusted iron. ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Luxury, tradition, and new trends
19.11.2018   #shop decoration #shop design

Luxury, tradition, and new trends

dlv tour 2018 to Tokyo

In collaboration with EuroShop, the dlv - Netzwerk Ladenbau e.V. shopfitters and suppliers network organizes a tour to a major city of the world once a year. Tour participants visit trendsetting locations that captivate with unique store designs. ...

Supplier

Bizerba SE & Co. KG
Bizerba SE & Co. KG
Wilhelm-Kraut-Straße 65
72336 Balingen
iXtenso - Magazin für den Einzelhandel
iXtenso - Magazin für den Einzelhandel
Celsiusstraße 43
53125 Bonn