SHALE Oil & Gas Business Magazine
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Loop Neighborhood stores set out to disrupt the conventional image of convenience stores that we are used to. The brand was created out of a desire to redefine consumer expectations after looking at the landscape of convenience stores and determining what was missing. Most stores were really only offering products targeting the male audience, so Loop was created with females and millennial customers in mind.
As soon as you take a few steps into a Loop store, you can see how it is different from other convenience stores. Incorporating many of the typical convenience store products, the brand takes it one step further by including fresh and better-quality products, in turn making it a one-stop shop for everyone who walks in. Partnering with the same suppliers as leading grocery stores enables Loop to have fresh, daily deliveries resulting in much higher-quality products. Loop customers can find smoothies, fruits and veggies, sushi, a soup bar, and a frozen yogurt stand. The company understands that just because you like convenience, doesn’t mean you want to skimp on the types of foods and drinks you’re getting in a hurry.
In addition to fresher products, Loop offers items that more specifically target its female and millennial customer base, like a wine boutique, gift cards and bath salts. Loop strives to take the traditional convenience store to the next level of convenience. So, while it still offers the usual snacks, drinks and beer, Loop puts in the extra effort to make it even more enjoyable. For example, instead of just doughnuts, stores have fresh pastries delivered each day.
“The best thing about Loop is that there is truly something for everyone; it’s no longer just focused on the male consumer anymore,” says company President Varish Goyal. “It’s a whole experience for our customers from the moment they walk through the door to the moment they leave. We have noticed that people are taking their time wandering the aisle and enjoying the experience of the store rather than heading straight to the aisle they know they need [to visit] and leaving.”
Inside and out, the design of the 25 Loop stores (so far), located in Northern California’s Bay Area, is very clean and sharp. A cafe with comfortable seating and free Wi-Fi entices customers to stay awhile, and there are water bowls for customers’ dogs to hang out, too. Goyal knew the overall perception of convenience stores needed to change in order to create Loop and redefine the stigma around the concept. It was more than just renovating the stores to make them look pretty; Goyal needed to change the stores from the inside out.
Loop stores are part of the Fremont, California-based AU Energy/Vintners Distributors, which was founded in 1978. It was during the following two decades that the family business began developing a strategy for offering area residents healthier, easier options — resulting in the Loop concept. Since the first Loop location opened in Santa Clara, California, the idea of healthier choices has paid off in more in-store sales. In 2015, Loop executives announced they had made a commitment to Partnership for a Healthier America, an organization devoted to working with the private sector to ensure the health of the nation’s youth by combating childhood obesity.
As the current locations continue to see success, Loop is looking to build more stores, but for smaller spaces. The company is working on a new store design that would encompass 1,200–1,500 square feet, targeting neighborhood communities where commercial-zoned lots are often smaller. Though the operational sites might be smaller, they will provide the company with the opportunity to grow the retail brand. A normal Loop site is more than 2,500 square feet.
And Loop continues to gain traction, especially as AU Energy has integrated new technological strategies to entice new customers. The convenience retailer’s approach for continuing to build its brand now involves initiatives incorporating social media and customer loyalty, which include its emergent Loop loyalty program, Loop Back. Customers can enroll in the loyalty program to earn points for everyday purchases. These points can be redeemed at any Loop in-store kiosk, or customers can choose a coupon from the app.
Loop is eager to keep growing and spreading the word about its new and improved convenience stores. The company hopes to continue serving its community with high-quality convenience.
For more information, visit dev.loopneighborhood.com.
Photos courtesy of Loop Neighborhood Stores
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