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SAN RAMON, Calif. -- Chevron Corp. has gone a long way to improve the quality of its convenience stores in recent times, and starting this month, it’s taking yet another step in the evolution of Chevron ExtraMile.
The West Coast c-store chain is currently rolling out Seattle's Best Coffee to all of its 271 company-owned and 273 franchise ExtraMile locations. The approximately six-week deployment is scheduled to finish in June. "Coffee is a really important part of our offering," Ian Noble, retail district sales manager for the company, told CSNews Online.
With the daily cup of java such an ingrained part of many consumers' routines -- especially those who make frequent visits to convenience stores -- it only made sense to think of coffee when the chain began considering how to grow its ExtraMile offering. But that didn't mean jumping on the first opportunity that came along.
"We wanted to partner with someone who's an expert in their industry," Noble explained.
Ultimately, after what he termed a "rigorous" selection process, that meant Seattle's Best Coffee (SBC). The Washington State-based chain, a subsidiary of Starbucks Corp., operates in both standalone retail locations and kiosks. But customers who come to ExtraMile for their SBC fix will be able to save money: a 20-ounce cup of coffee will cost $1.56 at an ExtraMile store compared to $1.86 at a standard SBC location.
"There's a lot to be said for a relationship with a known brand, but more importantly, it's not only partnership and a name," said Noble. There's also "the ability to deliver the program seamlessly at our sites. We think customers will respond very favorably.”
In fact, Chevron ExtraMile has such high expectations for the partnership's impact that its goal is to double its coffee business, realizing that it won’t happen all at once. ExtraMile has always been focused on convenience, quality and consistency, according to Noble, and it's that last attribute that is especially important.
"When a customer comes in, they should have an expectation, and [ExtraMile should] ensure that expectation is met," he said, noting that the chain is cautious about trying to do too many things at once. ExtraMile is now focused on the Seattle's Best Coffee rollout so that customers will come to know and expect premium coffee at every store.
Since research shows that only 7 percent of coffee drinkers take their brew black, Noble said ExtraMile is determined to offer customers plenty of creamers, flavor shots, sweeteners and varieties of coffee once Seattle's Best Coffee is available in the stores. "Customers can customize as much as they want to," said Noble, who prefers a medium blend with a little bit of creamer.
Moving forward, it's possible that ExtraMile's future could bring more foodservice program upgrades. The partnership with Seattle's Best Coffee "opens up some new ideas," he said. But if so, they'll come one step at a time, after the new coffee program is firmly established, so that "every time [customers] know about the quality."