While the launch of new coffee and pizza programs stood out as obvious highlights of McLane Co.’s booth on the 2023 NACS Show floor this past week, more quietly, the distributor also launched two technology platforms that will allow its customers to add new and varied upscale products, as well as recognize high-velocity products that may be missing from a retailer’s set.
The distributor has partnered with retail-technology firm Mable on a new Emerging Brands platform that “serves up new brands with unique and innovative products.” Mable was established as an online platform to bring small, up-and-coming and local product brands to retail through drop shipments of smaller quantities.
“The Emerging Brands platform is a technology partnership to bring product discovery of emerging brands in a more innovative way,” Kyle Gustafson, McLane’s vice president of e-commerce, told CSP during the NACS Show in Atlanta. “We’re leveraging digital ordering to introduce new brands to our customers through a platform that allows fast product discovery and selection.”
To start, the partnership opened the door for retailers to peruse the selection of products already on Mable’s e-commerce platform. The selection currently includes more than 3,000 brands, according to Mable CEO Aric Keller. “This really gives a retailer the option to test a new product in one store or 50 stores, whatever works best for them,” he told CSP.
In addition, retailers who learn about a small or local product—one not currently among McLane’s approved stock—that they’d like to bring into a store, they can ask to have it added to the Emerging Brands portfolio, have it drop shipped to the store and test it as long as necessary. From there, McLane has the opportunity to integrate the product into its larger delivery portfolio if it proves successful.
“This really is an opportunity for these small brands to build a customer base when there is no volume established,” Gustafson said.
The Emerging Brands platform is now available to all McLane customers.
Separately, McLane Co. has also initiated a platform to help retailers discover best-selling brands in their market that are missing from their store shelves.
“This is a new digital tool that helps retailers discover top sellers in their area,” Gustafson said. It allows retailers to learn from what other retailers in their market are selling with less trial and error.
“McLane’s Best Sellers is a data-driven customer experience that presents you with personalized product recommendations to help you easily find and order high-volume, high-velocity items to optimize the product assortment in your stores,” the company said.
“McLane is investing in technology, and both of these new approaches are customer-based,” said Michelle Patterson, vice president of marketing and communications for McLane Co. Both Emerging Brands and Best Sellers developed from interactions in McLane’s Center for Category Innovation, she said. “We’re listening to the voice of our customers to bring them tools to help them do their jobs better.
Based in Temple, Texas, McLane Co. is one of the largest distributors in America, serving convenience stores, mass merchants and chain restaurants.
Source: Convenience Store Petroleum