Retail Merchandiser - March/April 2017 - 68
Au Energy (formerly Vintners Distributors)
We build it around family, growth, self-improvement and improving you
and your family.
something more realistic. Through that process, we came up
Au Energy opened its first Loop location in 2013. Loop
is now at 23 of its locations with plans to build six new
ones every year. "We're trying to change the script and give
consumers a lot of options to come inside and make it the
destination rather than the fuel," Goyal continues. "We've
gotten lot better at product selection and mix and finding
items that sell."
Loop is designed to be more modern and brighter, with
lower gondolas for easier shopping. Additionally, the product mix is more health-focused, rather than the traditional
convenience store chips and cookies. Goyal describes it as
a cross between a Whole Foods and a convenience store.
Loop sells a variety of waters and drinks, including kombucha and chia drinks, kale chips, nuts and other healthy
snack items. It provides high-quality espresso machines,
salad bars and frozen yogurt. "The big focus was to differentiate ourselves to things we couldn't offer in a traditional
convenience store," Goyal notes. "I think our Loops are still
too traditional, and we want to scale that up to even higher-quality, affordable goods."
As it opens more Loop stores, Au Energy is focused on
improving the customer experience by launching a loyalty
program and mobile app. The company wants customers to
engage with the brand and strives to make shopping at its
stores easy and fun.
"Our next phase of IT is how do we use technology to
improve a customer's experience," Goyal says. "We've done
a lot for our operations and staff, now we want to make it
more pleasant for our customers. We've made our operations more efficient, which allowed us to have better control
over the products that go in the store. Teams can focus more
on customer service than being in the back office, making
sure everything is appropriate and balanced. It's allowed our
teams to focus on being better operators and providing better service."
Goyal looks forward to continuing to develop the Loop
brand, building more sites and getting the word out to more
consumers. He hopes that customers come to Au Energy
for more than just fuel - Goyal hopes the food becomes the
main business driver.
"I'm really hoping that what we do will make the store a
destination," he says. "But I'm most proud of the fact that we
continue to progress in our business. Whether through new
store rebuilds or employee engagement, among other things,
the team is constantly moving the company in the right direction. We never sit back and think things are just fine. We
constantly seem to come up with ways to stay ahead of the
curve. We hope people will be playing catch up to us." O