Loyalty & Rewards

Making C-Stores About Loyalty — Not Just Convenience

Convenience Stores Battle for Consumer Loyalty

It’s the most valuable treasure in the world of payments and commerce: consumer loyalty. Of course, gaining it requires a sophisticated understanding of retail, marketing and transactional data, but also an old-fashioned ability to make individuals feel special and respected — to demonstrate that you see them as unique individuals, not just part of a data segment.

This is the driving force behind the launch of a combined rewards and payment solution for convenience retailers, an effort led by mobile payments provider ZipLine along with Koupon Media, the provider of a promotional network for leading CPG brands. In a new PYMNTS interview, Kristen Bailey, ZipLine’s chief marketing officer, discussed the details of the program and where it fits into the current commerce, loyalty and payments ecosystem.

“Consumers want to feel understood by the brand they align themselves with,” she said. “Instead of general offers for broad product categories, relevant offers are critical for building connection through one-to-one marketing. Now, we’ve linked this capability to our successful payment platforms.”

ZipLine has created what it’s calling the first fully integrated, mobile loyalty and payment experience, which features CPG-funded offers, rewards and payment in a single app. The solution supports increasing consumer demand for fast, seamless checkout.

Bringing the solution to the convenience vertical is a natural fit. Not only is the landscape fiercely competitive, but with abundant brand options and the nature of the shopping experience, it provides fertile ground for the new ZipLine offering, according to Bailey. “It’s an optimal environment because consumers are in ‘grab-and-go’ mode; they love simple and easy,” she said.

The new offering also appeals to the modern consumer’s evolving expectations. “Millennials are real drivers of adoption when it comes to both mobile payments and rewards,” she said. “Without a mobile program, brands lose relevance with this audience. Consumers are looking for an experience that goes beyond the purchase, with rewards that make them feel like, ‘wow, this retailer actually knows me.’”

Such offerings, of course, live or die by data — and when talking about data, accumulation is only the first step. That’s why companies such as ZipLine offer what Bailey called a “consumer insights suite,” designed to help merchants make sense of and leverage the data. And by arming merchants with this capability, she said, they “…can engage the consumer along their shopping journey and nudge them into a purchase.”

Data shows that consumer “stickiness” depends on what happens during the first week as a new member, Bailey said. “Consumers are most likely to become sticky if they visit within the first seven days of enrolling. We present relevant, timely and personal offers to make sure each guest takes action within that first week.”

The ZipLine launch comes amid an evolving landscape for the convenience store space.

Fuel merchants are developing into sophisticated, innovative food and beverage retailers, as PYMNTS has reported. The speed and greater functionality of payment and commerce apps are enabling merchants to build loyalty with new and existing guests, ultimately improving the overall consumer experience.

So, what’s coming next from ZipLine?

According to Bailey, the company will soon launch a “frictionless enrollment process” that will enable consumers to sign up without entering their routing or bank account numbers. The idea is that by enrolling in real time, consumers can take advantage of program benefits immediately while in the retail environment.

All part of that treasure hunt for consumer loyalty.

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Latest Insights: 

Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. The July 2019 Pay Advances: The Gig Economy’s New Normal, a PYMNTS and Mastercard collaboration, examines pay advances – full or partial payments received before an ad hoc job is completed – including how gig workers currently use them and their potential for future adoption.

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