Family Express Tries AI in Digital Marketing Effort

Indiana-based c-store chain to revamp app in June with Rovertown
Family Express observed National Pizza Day
Image: Shutterstock

At Family Express, the best way to engage customers is often digital.

“Our mobile app is the center of our marketing,” Thierry Lyles, digital marketing manager told CSP Daily News.

The convenience-store chain is revamping the app with Rovertown’s help, and it plans to launch a new version of the app in June with a big splash, Lyles said. “We’re really focusing on the customer experience within the app.”

The revamped app will make it easier for consumers to order ahead for pickup, to get a car wash and to earn loyalty points. With the new technology, customers can purchase a car wash by opening the app and scanning a QR code, he said. “They don’t have to touch anything, just open the app.”

Family Express also works with Paytronix on its loyalty program, which drives in-store traffic through personalized messages. Besides the app, many consumers respond to email offers, especially when they arrive when they’re most apt to read them, Lyles said.

  • Family Express is No. 81 on CSP’s 2022 Top 202 ranking of c-store chains with 81 stores. Look for the 2023 Top 202 in the June issue of CSP magazine.

Family Express did a beta test of an artificial-intelligence-based day-of-the-week feature involving email messages. It allows the retailer to set up a campaign to send out an email for a new product or promotional offer on the day of the week the customer is most likely to open it, based on historical data, he said.

The strength of email marketing was obvious during a Feb. 9 loyalty promotion for National Pizza Day at Family Express. The promotion, offering two extra-large pizzas for $12, was sent to a segmented list of consumers who visited a location with a Cravin’s to Order or a nearby store within the past 60 days, according to a blogpost on Paytronix' website. The company sent app users a notification about the promotion and then blasted it by email at 2 p.m., resulting in a flood of orders, Paytronix said.

“A few hundred open orders flowed through within the first 90 minutes. When it was done, Family Express had nearly 10 times the number of typical daily ordersan all-time high,” Paytronix reported on its blog. “The benefit spilled over beyond pizza, with add-on purchases raising the average ticket price to $18. Mobile ordering accounted for most of the traffic, with 70% of online orders coming in through that channel.” The promotion generated a sustained 10% lift compared with sales from before National Pizza Day.

Incremental sales from the promotion continued for at least four weeks, Lyles said. “Our made-to-order foodservice program has still grown significantly since that time,” he said.

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