Family Express Chips Away at Friction

Chain partners with suppliers for pickup, delivery and other customer-centric tools

VALPARAISO, Ind. -- Convenience-store retailer Family Express Corp. is collaborating with several technology providers in the retail space to improve its customer experience. The initiative includes Paytronix as the company's primary loyalty provider, Olo as its online ordering platform and National Carwash Solutions (NCS) and Big Club Digital for website redevelopment.

“Today’s consumer expects a seamless engagement. Every aspect of the experience, from payment to loyalty to engagement and communication, should be a part of a harmonized technology ecosystem,” said Gus Olympidis, president and CEO of Valparaiso, Ind.-based Family Express, which operates about 70 c-stores in northern and central Indiana. “Technology evolution has made leaps, but it often operates in silos. Our initiative will combine solutions in a way that we can facilitate everything from one-to-one marketing to emerging consumer habits, like ‘my usual,’ ‘last order’ and ‘favorites.’ ”

Olo will facilitate pickup and delivery options. NCS is providing Family Express with kiosks linked to a new mobile app that will facilitate new marketing tools. For example, the c-store will have the ability to sell a redeemable car-wash code even at locations without a car wash. These codes will be redeemable at any Family Express car-wash location.

“Customers want something that points to their individualism,” said Clifton Dillman, chief information officer of Family Express. “Additionally, current practices, like issuing a car-wash code that is limited to just a particular location, is as unfriendly to a consumer as a coupon good at one store only. Today’s consumer is becoming accustomed to a frictionless experience by engaging with those that deliver it. Tomorrow’s consumer will expect it.”

Based in Newton, Mass., Paytronix provides software-as-a-service (SaaS) customer experience management solutions for c-stores and restaurants. Paytronix works with more than 330 customers to build big data consumer insights that it generates from one-to-one engagement with its more than 165 million loyalty members across its customers’ brands.

New York-based Olo is primarily an interface for the restaurant industry, powering digital ordering and delivery for more than 200 restaurant brands at 40,000 locations. Olo’s software powers much of the digital restaurant transaction, from guest interfaces to back-of-house order management. Orders from Olo are injected into existing systems to help brands capture demand from on-demand channels such as the brand’s website and app, third-party marketplaces, social-media channels and personal-assistant devices such as Amazon Echo.

Founded in 1973 and based in Grimes, Ind., NCS is a service and systems provider to the North American car-wash industry. NCS has established a direct, end-to-end customer service and support network with more than 320 service technicians nationwide. It offers a line of CleanTouch cleaning fluid solutions, reverse osmosis and reclaim systems and accessories.

Big Club Digital, based in St. Louis, was founded in 2013. It is an integrator for development operations, customer experience, workflow management and internet of things tools.

Photograph: Shutterstock

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