4 Pre-Holiday Loyalty Developments

By 
Jackson Lewis, Assistant Editor

Christmas tree fire place

CHICAGO -- As the holidays approach, so do the opportunities for deals, discounts and heightened consumer engagement.

Consumers are spending more time buying gifts and driving to see friends and family for the holidays—both activities that convenience stores can cash in on. Stores are answering these changes through a variety of strategies, including updating existing programs with more discount opportunities, making the payments process more seamless and offering fuel discounts for grocery shopping.

Here are four loyalty-related developments from the c-store industry as Americans gear up for the holidays …

1. 7-Eleven chatbot

7-Eleven

In addition to serving as a loyalty program sign-up and notifying users of nearby 7-Eleven stores, the chain’s new loyalty-focused chatbot could provide digital coupons that are automatically applied as users shop, according to Gurmeet Singh, Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven’s chief digital officer.

Singh told CSP Daily News that the company continues to test drone delivery and explore ways that augmented reality can enhance the consumer experience.

The announcement of the chatbot came shortly after 7-Eleven rolled out changes to its 7Rewards loyalty program, which allows members to earn and redeem bonus points while they shop.

2. Hatch and expand

Hatch Loyalty

Chicago-based Hatch Loyalty has expanded its capabilities with two recent partnerships. The first, with Buy It Mobility (BIM) Networks, New York, allows the loyalty provider to offer merchants the capability to use automated clearinghouse (ACH) payments through their loyalty mobile apps.

“Up until now on our platform, merchants haven’t had the means to promote their brand as a payment tender,” said Adam Frisch, CEO of BIM. “When we are able to seamlessly connect a consumer’s checking account to the merchant’s app and to the merchant’s website, they get payments that are branded via ACH.”

Hatch has also cut a deal with San Francisco-based Cardfree, which provides restaurants with order-ahead, payments, offers, loyalty and other consumer-facing services. Cardfree has partnered with Hatch to extend its reach farther into gasoline and convenience retailing.

“Loyalty is an outcome of a great customer experience, which includes new ways of engaging customers via mobile. We believe customers that order ahead and leverage mobile-payments technology ultimately help drive value for retailers," said Dan Gloede, CEO of Hatch Loyalty. "We believe our partnership will allow both of us to extend solutions that retailers need, and consumers love.”

3. Ralphs fuels loyalty

Ralphs Rewards

CSP’s sister publication Winsight Grocery Business (WGB) reported that Cincinnati-based Ralphs Grocery Co. is offering a limited-time deal for fuel customers with the Ralphs Rewards Card fuel rewards program.

Through Feb. 28, Ralph’s customers can redeem 1,000 fuel points to save $1 per gallon of fuel from Ralphs fuel centers and participating Shell stations in Southern California. WGB also reported that Ralphs customers will continue to be able to redeem 100 points for 10 cents off per gallon, 200 points for 20 cents off per gallon and 400 points for 40 cents off per gallon of gasoline at all Ralphs fuel centers and participating Shell locations.

Customers can earn fuel points through a variety of ways, including purchasing eligible grocery items or qualified gift cards, using the on-site pharmacy or bringing reusable bags.

4. Pump and save

BP

Grocery customers of Milwaukee-based Pick ‘n Save and Metro Market stores are eligible to save up to $1 per gallon of fuel for every 1,000 points redeemed at participating BP stations. For every $100 customers spend using their Fresh Perks card, they can save 10 cents per gallon on fuel.

Customers can earn more money off of their gas purchase the more they shop with their Fresh Perks card. For instance, if a shopper spends $200 on their Fresh Perks card, they can earn 20 cents off per gallon.