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Yesway Prepares to Scale Up Rewards With Stuzo

C-store chain looks for big increase in member use
Yesway's vice president of marketing
Darrin Samaha; Photograph courtesy of Yesway

Yesway wants to give people more reasons to say “yes” to its Yesway Rewards program. And so does Stuzo, a technology company slated to take over the convenience-store’s loyalty program this year.

Stuzo offered Yesway a guarantee of a 50% increase in member numbers and transactions compared with Yesway’s current rewards program, said Darrin Samaha, vice president of marketing at Yesway, a convenience-store chain with about 435 locations in nine states. The chain is owned by Fort Worth, Texas-based BW Gas & Convenience Holdings.

Yesway agreed to go with Philadelphia-based Stuzo in February, and Samaha plans to hold Stuzo to its guarantee. “We’re confident we can take our program to the next level with Stuzo,” he said.

Yesway Smile Currency

Yesway will collaborate with Stuzo to market the rewards program, designed to boost in-store transactions. Currently, rewards members earn points for shopping at Yesway, and the points convert into currency called Yesway Smile, redeemable for products in a Yesway catalog.

Stuzo uses a wallet steering solution pushing one-to-one promotions in real time to entice customers to go into the convenience stores to shop. The technology company’s approach is based on monitoring consumers’ transactions to offer relevant promotions more likely to convert to purchases.

“Those who come into the store get more value from the program,” Samaha said. Yesway’s Stack-and-Save rewards program will stay as the loyalty program is revamped because it’s been effective at persuading loyalty members to increase their in-store purchases, Samaha said.

The program also combines offers for extra rewards to be used for fuel purchases. Energy drinks like Red Bull are likely to be pushed to consumers along with extra rewards for adding a specific snack purchase. “We look at energy drinkers, our tobacco customers, those who love our food and those who maybe only buy fuel from us and haven’t come into the store,” as some of the most loyal customers, Samaha said. The rewards program presents a new opportunity for them to shop in the store.

App Improvements

While the companies are still in the “discovery phase,” Samaha said the rewards program will undergo some changes once the transition to Stuzo takes place. He foresees improvements to the app and digital messaging, along with more targeted offers. “We obviously want to drive member count, transaction volume and growth.”

  • BW Gas & Convenience Holdings, which owns Yesway, is No. 18 on CSP’s 2023 Top 40 update to the 2022 Top 202 ranking of convenience store chains by store count. Watch for the full 2023 Top 202 in June.

While many Yesway customers have preferred to swipe a rewards card instead of using an app, the number of card-holding loyalty members has been declining as more people become comfortable using apps on their phones, he said.

Driving customers into the store for stacked savings should be attainable because, Samaha pointed out, “There’s still quite a lot of pain at the pump.” With inflation’s added pressures, customers have gravitated to the rewards program for extra savings. “We’re seeing more registrations as a result of it, and more transactions because of our Stack-and-Save program.”

One promotion offered 10 cents off the fuel price for a Redbull purchase and another 10 cents off for a Frito-Lay’s purchase, for 20 cents off at the pump, Samaha said.

Program Value

Customers are expected to more fully understand the value of the rewards program when Yesway switches to Stuzo. Previously, consumers didn’t always see the benefit. “There was a murkiness to the program I the way customers would earn and then could redeem points. Sometimes customers wouldn’t know, What am I getting form the program? It seems they weren’t getting anything or ‘It takes a long time to earn,’” Samaha said. “We wanted to reward customers for shopping with us right away.”

By working with Stuzo, Samaha said the program will create a one-to-one engagement program with customers. The new program, based on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, will monitor customers’ shopping behavior. Based on what each individual customer likes to buy, the program will refine the promotions, drive more value and encourage repeat purchases, he said.

 “In today’s world, customers want to know that the brands they trust understand their needs and can deliver stuff that’s meaningful specifically to them in real time and with real value. That’s what we’re doing with Stuzo,” Samaha said.

Teaming Up

Yesway plans to scale up the program with Stuzo later this year. Asked what will make the rewards program more successful, Samaha said, “From my perspective, the solution is only as good as the team that backs the solutionand to a certain extent our team, the marketing team. You have to find the right alchemy of a good partnership,” he said. “We’ve got a great team at Stuzo. Our marketing team is also fully committed. The combination will really drive us forward.”

Yeswayoperatesstores in Midwest and Southwest rural and suburban markets. In February, it acquired five Ranglers convenience stores in Texas, bringing to 435 the number of c-stores it operates in nine states. The company plans to open 28 new stores this year. BW Gas & Convenience Holdings received $190 million from private-equity investors, including New York-based HPS Investment Partners, in 2022 for new-store construction.

Stuzo is a technology company offering transaction, rewards and loyalty solutions for convenience stores and fuel retailers. Its open commerce products include Activate for Intelligent 1:1 Loyalty, Transact for Contactless Commerce, Experience for Cross-Channel Customer Experiences and Retailer Connect for Corporate-to-Dealer Program Management.

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