Albemarle Oil Deploys Smartphone App

Carolina retailer enlists Verge Retail for marketing, social media, analytics initiative

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

ALBEMARLE, N.C. -- Albemarle Oil Co. (ALCO) has launched a branded smartphone application that has a range of features including data analytics and mobile couponing.

The 23-store chain, spread through both North and South Carolina, chose Henderson, N.C.-based Verge Retail as its supplier, which provides a smartphone app with a set of customizable features including interest-based marketing capabilities, social media, customer-feedback management and backend analytics.

With the app, ALCO customers can select the types of deals and coupons they receive, as well as filter by the services offered at all 23 stores. The ALCO-branded app also features mapping and customer-interaction capabilities via social media and direct feedback.

"We're excited about the ALCO smartphone app and the opportunities Verge's technology presents for enhancing our customer experience and supporting the growth of our brand," said Ron Lattimer, operations manager for ALCO, Albemarle, N.C.

"We get into much more personal, customer-specific intelligence and know customers individually," Carson Kuehne, chief innovations officer for Verge told CSP Daily News. "[It's about] having an understanding of each customer and the coupons they want to receive."

Verge was essentially the software-development department within Henderson-based M.R. Williams Inc., an East Coast convenience store distributor. About a year and a half ago, the company spun that department out to create Verge. Its history in the channel is an advantage for the company, Kuehne said. "That's the reason we're able to move quickly into the space. We didn't waste time developing features [customers were] not going to use."

He added, "We're pleased to work with ALCO and help them succeed with their mobile initiatives. With Verge Connect, we've leveled the playing field by enabling c-store chains, no matter the size, to compete for mobile customers and profit from a rapidly growing market segment."

M.R. Williams has a 35-year history in retail as a c-store distributor. With designers from c-store backgrounds, Verge software products reflect decades of convenience-retail experience. The company's technology is deployed across more than 2,200 retail outlets and used by thousands of c-store retailers, distributors and consumers nationwide.

ALCO operates in 17 cities throughout the Carolinas, with 23 stores branded Shell, BP and a handful of unbranded sites. Many of the stores have foodservice in the form of delis or Dairy Queen franchises.

Angel Abcede, CSP/Winsight By Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP
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