Stocking Your C-Store: Distributors vs. Wholesale Stores

One of the toughest, yet most important, responsibilities that comes with being the owner and operator of a convenience store is keeping your store stocked with all of the products your customers want and need.  This task is especially difficult when you’re a single store owner with nowhere near the same resources as the large chains and franchises.  Many single store owners are left deciding whether they should just purchase their inventory from the local wholesale or club store, rather than maintaining a steady relationship with a distributor.  There are several factors to consider when making this very decision.

Your Time is Valuable

When you choose to stock your c-store with items from a wholesale or other big box store, you’re choosing to invest your precious time in visiting the store, shopping, and transporting the products back to your business.  By using a wholesale store, you’ll also be spending your own time researching and deciding which products you really need.

However, with a grocery distributor, you can enjoy the convenience of simply having the products delivered to you per a regular schedule that works for you.  Many grocery distributors even allow you to place orders online or through an app and to easily change your delivery dates.  These distributors can also help you track products and decide what stock is going to work best for your c-store.

Consider Your Budget

While wholesale stores do sell products in bulk for a lower price, they do not account for individual resale prices.  It’s a good idea to analyze what you’re spending on your stock from a wholesale store and the profit that you can make from those products without price gouging your customers.  When looking at these numbers, make sure to include the value in your time and travel used to shop at the wholesale store.

With a grocery distributor, you can take advantage of special discount and rebate programs directly from the product manufacturers.  Also, these distributor programs sometimes offer unique discounts on your inventory prices depending on order sizes and frequency.

Diversifying Your Products

Both wholesale stores and grocery distributors will provide you the ability to carry a wide range of products.  However, as mentioned before, the wholesale and big box stores don’t provide any insight into whether carrying a product would be a good idea.

Grocery distributors can not only suggest the best ways to add variety to your stock, many will even assist in your store’s organization and merchandising.  Because the grocery distributors are directly connected to manufacturers, they often have exclusive access to new and special products that could keep your c-store customers coming back.

Keep It Fresh

For many single store owners, wholesale stores seem to be the best inventory option because of the ability to purchase products on their own terms instead of a set schedule.  Most owners believe it’s much easier just to run out to the local big box store when they run out of things, rather than keep a lot of back stock in their small space.

Because grocery distributors track and measure order levels for all the stores they serve, they can give great insight into the ideal inventory levels for your c-store.  Using a grocery distributor gives you more visibility and power over maintaining the optimal levels of products and ensures that you won’t so easily run out of the products your customers are buying the most or that you won’t be left with dusty products on your already crowded shelves.

Every c-store is unique and what works for one store owner will not necessarily be ideal for another.  It’s important to not only consider what works for your business now, but also how you plan to grow.  Weigh all your options and plans for wholesale purchasing or using a regular distributor before deciding and be sure to always keep a close eye on your budget and inventory.

in Building Your Business, Industry News