Eskimo Hut employs a distinctive approach in convenience retailing. This includes specialty daiquiris and drive-through service. Aside from this, the store chain has also been enjoying the skyrocketing ecigarette sales ever since it has entered the ecig category last 2013.
Venturing Into Electronic Cigarettes
Brian Dobbins, the Vice President of Operations for Eskimo Hut, stated that they first started with the Blu Cigs brand of ecigarettes through Lorillard in 2013. During the late part of summer 2013, they decided to move further to electronic cigarettes as well as vapor units.
Eskimo Hut is a convenience store chain that operates in 26 different locations across Texas. It has experienced such enormous increase in ecigarette sales in only less than one year of venturing in the category.
Dobbins remarked that their venture has grown massively. He said that they were selling about $100 per month on sales of Blu Cigs and other brands of electronic cigarettes at first. From then on, they are now averaging $10,000 monthly from their complete line of ecigs and vapor units.
The product was first introduced in the US market back in 2007. Even after many years, many retailers still consider them fairly new market products. These retailers are only now starting to offer their customers with these tobacco alternatives. Ecigarettes often refer to the hardware or device while vapor is often used to refer to the various flavors of eliquid such as strawberry and chocolate.
The Eskimo Hut Ecigarette Line
Right now, the convenience store chain is carrying a few brands of electronic cigarettes and eliquids. Its line includes Blu, eCig, Smoking Crow, Vapage, E-Cig Concepts and Vapage Vookah.
Dobbins explained that they find reliable reviews and the best deals online and they add products when they feel that these products will actually sell. He also added that Eskimo Hut does not promote or run promotions on the electronic cigarettes. However, the store chain offers evapor products package deals.
He finds it intriguing and interesting that those customers not only eagerly try, but also enthusiastically learn about new offerings and products. Every so often, Lorillard and Smoking Crow representatives visit the store locations in order to train their employees regarding the best store practices.
Excited Customers And Employees
Customers have obviously been enjoying their growing number of offers and selections. Dobbins said that customers keep coming back to look for other new items and flavors in Eskimo’s line of ecigarettes. He said that they have representatives who regularly come to give employees their required familiarity and training about the different ecigarette options and styles.
Through proper training, Eskimo Hut employees are able to inform and educate customers about the products. Moreover, customers are not the only ones excited about this ecigarette category.
Dobbins remarked that many of their employees actually use the products and they have become experts on the latest about the various brands of ecigs. He also noted that they are looking at offering product sampling so that customers will be allowed to experience using the products while they are learning about it.
As with other product categories, Eskimo Hut needed to first learn about ecigs so it conducted beta testing for their ecigarette introduction.
Incidentally, Eskimo Hut’s two locations that are both in Houston ran the beta testing for roughly 6 months to test the interest and acceptance from consumers. One store surpassed the other so the management was able to mold a program that is specific to every store’s interests and needs.
In terms of advertising and marketing, Eskimo Hut makes sure that the ecig products are placed in visible and high traffic areas of the stores. Signage is also present on drive-thrus and windows. Eig products that Eskimo offers are placed on ecigarette racks and cabinets curio-style.
With regards to real cigarettes, Dobbins remarked that they have not yet seen a drop in their total cigarette sales. He added that he thinks this booming category will require more time before surpassing traditional tobacco products like cigarettes.