The Mix-and-Match Promotions Explosion

Powerful recent technologies are unlocking the profit potential of mix-and-match promotions for c-store operators.

The right kind of promotions, if implemented and managed well, can function as an attraction to long-time new customers, while giving loyal consumers a reason to keep coming back.

By promotions we’re not talking an inflatable gorilla on the roof, or a local radio station setting up in the parking lot to broadcast, or a makeover into an animated series favorite c-store. We’re talking about merchandise-based, item-level promotions, often referred to in the industry as “mix and match.” Buy two iced tea drinks of any flavor, get one free. Buy a hot dog and a drink, the store throws in the chips. Buy three of a designated tobacco product and get 20 percent discounts on all of them.

The concept is simple and compelling to the consumer—Millennials in particular—which explains its very long run as a go-to sales strategy for c-stores. But here’s the best part: promotions have greater profit potential than ever thanks to developments in c-store technology.

The first part is the POS. Keeping track of a myriad of item combinations, with varying discounts and discount types (money discount off of each item, group percentage discount, etc.) would be impractical without an impressive new breed of registers capable of doing the work for you. Once the POS is programmed, the right combinations of specific UPCs will trigger the discount at the register, while the full price will be charged when any UPC is rung up alone.

The improved sophistication of today’s registers, however, would be of limited use without modern c-store back-office systems adept enough to take the sophisticated data coming out of the POS and turn it into something that makes a difference in the store’s success. Every day, in a minimum of time, it is now possible to see what promotions stimulate enough sales to justify their collective item discounts, and which don’t. You can see how popularity develops or wanes over time because of the historical information available. And because promotions are themselves defined by designated groups of UPCs, it becomes much easier to see what sells with what: the Market Basket Analysis concept. It’s another window into what’s being sold, which helps improve the profitability of the store’s inventory mix. And because of the integration between the back office and the POS, you can manage your promotions from the back office, edit them, and then send them up to the POS.

With over 40 years in the business, SSCS has been a firsthand witness to the explosion of the promotions concept across the industry, and the technology fueling it. In fact, here’s a CSP Daily News article from September 2008 announcing one of our early breakthroughs with POS-leader Gilbarco.

If you suspect that you aren’t getting enough out of your promotions or would like to know more about how technology can help make your program better, please give us a call at 800-972-7727.

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