Convenience store chains once thrived on driving impulse buys. Now, successful convenience retailers capitalize on unlocking customer loyalty.
Implementing an effective loyalty program enables retailers to retain customers, increase market share, drive higher cart value, and communicate more broadly with customers. To ensure that they can successfully reap these benefits, however, retailers must provide an enticing, competitive loyalty program to their customers.
Last year, we saw launches (and re-launches) of some of the most inspired c-store loyalty programs to date. In this post, we’ll recognize what makes these the top loyalty programs from 2018.
And the award goes to…
Most Enticing Prizes for Loyalists: 7-Eleven’s 7Rewards Enhancement
7Rewards started as a buy six hot beverages/get the 7th free program. In 2018, 7-Eleven expanded 7Rewards to all beverages and included a points program for purchases including select snacks, drinks, and other items.
Despite the update, the retailer continued to struggle to enroll customers, so they decided to make a bold move. To entice shoppers, they rolled out a huge giveaway program for 7Rewards. In March, they gave 7 lucky registrants one million points each, with entries being made each time customers scanned their 7Rewards app during a purchase. Additionally, 7-Eleven awarded a treasure trove of unusual, buzz-worthy prizes such as a media room, trips to sporting events and racing weekends, tickets to live music events, and even a trip for two to Paris.
Since enhancing their 7Rewards program, 7-Eleven’s has made the following updates:
- 80% of purchases are now eligible for points
- Customized app experiences are now based on browsing and purchase history
- New digital in-app coupons
Proving that enticing prizes, attention-grabbing go a long way with customers, 7-Eleven has gone from 9 million members to over 12 million in the short time since its launch.
Best Use of Data to Build Loyalty: Maverik’s Adventure Club
Retailers know each customer is unique, yet being able to personalize interactions to effectively meet each customer’s needs is an enduring challenge. In a successful bid to bridge this gap, Maverik upgraded its Adventure Club loyalty program.
In so doing, the c-store chain partnered with Paytronix, a SaaS-based customer experience management solution. The partnership was established with the twin goals of increasing future visits and increasing total purchases. To execute on it, Maverik capitalized on Paytronix’s machine learning capabilities and proprietary algorithms to give Adventure Club members individually customized.
The enhanced program delivers:
- Offers based on each customer’s past purchase, with thousands of permutations possible
- Promotions timed for when customers are likely to need to visit Maverik again
Maverik’s proved it has a top loyalty program, having partnered with a software provider that uses machine learning to create experiences that resonate with individual loyalists.
Most Popular Loyalty Pilot: Murphy USA’s Murphy Drive Rewards
Murphy USA launched its Murphy Drive Rewards program in 2018 at 200 convenience stores. Since doing so, it has seen nearly 1 million sign-ups—6% of the entire population of Tennessee. The program has a variety of exciting features, most of which center around the engaging and customizable Drive Rewards app:
- Customers have the flexibility to select their favorite “Drive Deals”
- Users experience a gamified app where they can ‘rev-up’ their in-app speedometers when earning points
- Members are encouraged to provide feedback to Murphy’s by answering in-app questionnaires to earn points
The features above have also driven word of mouth success. According to Murphy’s CEO, customers outside of the 200-store test area have been asking Murphy’s employees when the program will expand to in their area.
Most Strategic Loyalty Partnership: Caltex/Woolworth’s Rewards
Understanding how much their customers want fresh foods each week, Caltex partnered with Woolworth’s to offer a convenience and fuel offering. For our non-Aussie readers, Woolworth’s and Caltex are top Australian grocery store and c-store chains, respectively. In addition to leveraging each others’ strengths to service customers, Caltex will be folded into the Woolworth’s Rewards program as a core partner—broadening the entire redemption program.
Via the partnership, the companies have strategically expanded their top loyalty program, both geographically, and in terms of offerings. Here are some cornerstone of the program:
- The network has more than doubled, from 104 to 229 locations
- Caltex purchases will count towards the Woolworth’s Rewards Program
- Customers can redeem Woolworth’s Rewards points at Caltex locations
In the case of Caltex, success in loyalty rests in understanding where your customers perceive value. If they want something that’s not in your brand’s repertoire, a strategic partnership can help.
Most Tactical Loyalty Program: Circle K’s Tobacco Club
Early in 2018, Circle K wanted to driving traffic from pump to store. Their tactic, according to President and CEO Brian Hannasch, was to deliver additional value by capitalizing on their customers most desired products.
As a first step, it has targeted a large and important customer segment—tobacco users—by rolling out its Tobacco Club. In the first six weeks, Circle K garnered over 600,000 members and earned over 2.4 million membership-related transactions. On top of that, Hannasch says the roll-out drove incremental foot traffic and boosted sales. These improvements came courtesy of alluring loyalty features such as:
- Point rewards for smokeless and smoking tobacco
- Innovative product offerings based on purchase history
- Merchandising offers tailored to store-level traffic
Given that the test-phase has shown so much promise, Circle K expects to continue to roll the program out to the remainder of its stores nationwide.
What We Can Expect in C-Store Loyalty in 2019
While the winners above each have different business models and target markets, it’s clear that to execute a top loyalty program, you must tie your business needs to the desires of your customers. Each of the above programs innovates by understanding where customer needs overlap with firm-wide directives. They also evince a determination to meet customers when and where they are in order to succeed.
For customers, the common thread is customization. As more and more retailers adopt AI and machine learning technologies, the value that stores can offer to their clientele looks to become increasingly bespoke.
Learn how CB4 drives net new sales for convenience retailers like Quik Mart, Dash In, and High’s. Then, watch this short video to hear Wilson’s Director of Operations discuss how CB4 improves profit margins for his c-store chain.