SSCS Was There: The Esso Imperial Oil Show
SSCS attends trade shows and exhibitions on a regular basis throughout the year, giving us the opportunity to get a consistent read on the industry’s pulse. Each show has its own unique flavor—often regional—so we thought it might be interesting to share the first person experiences of our representatives at each show we attend. We’re titling the series, “SSCS Was There,” and when possible we’ll include photos. This is the first entry in the series.
Last week our reps attended the Esso Imperial Oil National Retailer Conference and Trade Show. The event was unique for us in that it was a Canadian show (taking place in Niagara Falls, Ontario). SSCS Sales Manager Shawn Herrick was in attendance, so we sat down with him for a few minutes to get his impressions of the show.
“What really sets the Imperial Oil show apart, besides its location, is that it only takes place every four years,” Herrick begins. “I think that’s beneficial for exhibitors like us, since the technology available to the industry changes significantly over the course of four years, which means attendees get to see something they haven’t seen before. That adds to the excitement of the show for them.
“In our case, it made people curious to see what we had to offer, even if they weren’t specifically looking to buy. That’s because visitors had such a vested interest in understanding where technology is headed. This is behavior you might not see in an annual domestic show, partly because the contrast in technology from year to year might not be as compelling.”
Although the show was small in size compared to some of the larger American shows, traffic was consistent throughout, without the “dead time” that sometimes manifests in a domestic show. Many of the attendees were independent, single store operators, which brings us to the show’s second distinctive aspect.
“The volume these small independent operators process is mind boggling when compared to most of their U.S. counterparts,” notes Herrick. “During the summer months they can do anything from 12,000 to 15,000 Canadian dollars in sales, which is six or seven times what a domestic independent might do. What makes it amazing is they do it without any automation to speak of. Their ROI, should they enlist technology, would be awesomely impressive. This vast potential caught all of us off guard.”
When asked for a reason why these stores processed so much volume, Herrick theorized that it had to do with geographic location and a general dearth of C-stores in wide swaths of the country. “There’s certainly less competition per square mile, and that fact drives a lot of their volume,” he explains. “There are 144,000 convenience stores in the U.S. and a fraction of that in Canada. The vast majority of independents are outside urban areas where population is particularly scarce. In these areas, the C-store is the primary source of fuel and groceries. It functions as a community hub.”
SSCS was grateful to be able to demonstrate some of its newest solutions for the petroleum retailing industry at the Imperial Oil show, and even more pleased at the positive reception they received. Right now we’re preparing for NACS, which is right around the corner, and we’ll post a complete summary of our experiences at that show, the defining event of the yearly trade show calendar, upon our return.