GasBuddy Brings Digital Coupons to C-Stores

New portal aims to drive in-store traffic, sales

By 
Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

GasBuddy coupons loyalty (CSP Daily News / Convenience Stores / Gas Stations)

GAITHERSBURG, Md. -- GasBuddy, a leading low-gas-price mobile app, has soft-launched a digital-coupon platform—one that allows both convenience stores and consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers to offer the digital deals to the app's users. It will officially announce the platform later today.

With its extensive user base of 47 million downloads as a lure, GasBuddy has enlisted nine retailers and four CPG companies to participate in a field test of its Coupon Portal service, essentially an extension of its app that will offer digital coupons. The discounts will apply to specific products, with deals made available only to specified retailers.

The prospect has drawn interest and enthusiasm, at least from those involved in the first stage of implementation.

"Given GasBuddy's huge user base and exceptional product, being part of the Coupon Portal was a no-brainer," said Derek Gaskins, chief customer officer for Rutter's Farm Stores, York, Pa. "Thousands of customers fill up at our stations every day. With GasBuddy's new offering, the number of these customers coming into our stores to make additional purchases will only increase, greatly improving our bottom line."

Currently, nine c-store retailers are participating in the Coupon Portal, including Corner Stores, San Antonio, Texas; Nice N Easy, Canastota, N.Y.; Common Cents, Rapid City, S.D.; Wallis Oil's On The Run chain, Cuba, Mo.; Mach1, Cleona, Pa.; BellStores, Massillon, Ohio; PS Food Mart, Homer, Mich.; Fast Stop Market, Roseburg, Ore.; and Rutter's. Participating CPG companies include Quaker Oats, Chicago; Prestige Brands, Tarrytown, N.Y.; ConAgra Foods, Omaha; and Twang Partners, San Antonio, Texas.

"The gas c-store hasn't had this ability to offer coupons in the past, but digital and mobile have changed that," said Greg Fox, vice president of sales for GasBuddy/OpenStore, Gaithersburg, Md. "It makes for a perfect synchronicity."

Historically, technical incompatibility, the single-serve nature of convenience stores and the paper process that meant long reimbursement cycles deterred this channel from taking coupons, Fox told CSP Daily News.

Still, mobile and digital have not replaced the entire coupon system, Fox said. Coupon acceptance and reimbursement continue to involve what are called "clearinghouses" that work with manufacturers to eventually settle with retailers. But according to Fox, the reimbursement process now shrinks from four-to-six months down to under two weeks.

In GasBuddy's present model, both CPG companies and c-store retailers have control over what's discounted and what's offered to consumers, Fox said. CPG companies can decide what products to offer at what discount and can even decide which retailers can present the offer to consumers. For instance, a CPG company can decide that only one particular chain can make a certain offer.

Retailers, on the other hand, can opt in to any number of discounts offered by a variety of vendors. "In the past, retailers had to approach each vendor to negotiate an offer," Fox said. "With this solution, retailers will have a selection of available CPG offers to choose from."

Retailers can also decide to offer discounts on their own products, Fox said, giving the example of a free cup of the store's branded coffee.

The solution can be location based as well, Fox said, with offers showing up specific to where the consumer is and offering the coupon only at nearby stores.

The platform also offers analytics for retailers and manufacturers to monitor, both from a marketing standpoint and to reduce fraud.

"For the consumer, it's an immediate reward," Fox said. "For the retailer, you're driving that pump-to-store traffic, giving them one more reason to go into the store and make a purchase."

According to a recent GasBuddy survey, more than 65% of consumers said digital coupons available for use in convenience stores would greatly affect their in-store purchases. The portal also allows CPG companies to create targeted and customized coupons for consumers.

"Every day, GasBuddy helps millions of drivers make fuel purchase decisions, leading them to gas stations to fill up," said Jason Toews, co-founder of GasBuddy. "Now in addition to driving traffic to the pumps, we will drive consumers inside the stores. From listening with our users, we know that coupons are an additional value to the app they want. We are excited to make this happen."

Part of CSP's 2015 Convenience Top 101 retailers
Angel Abcede, CSP/Winsight By Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP
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