Casey’s is prioritizing rewards program usage as leading convenience store chains look to drive digital adoption, even as the industry overall lags behind other retail categories’ tech efforts.
On a call with analysts Wednesday (June 7) discussing its fourth quarter FY2023 financial results, Casey’s General Stores, the United States’ third largest convenience retailer, shared the results of its “commitment” to “drive digital engagement,” according to comments from President and CEO Darren Rebelez, with roughly several hundred thousand new loyalty program members compared to last quarter.
“In early May, we launched an upgrade to our rewards program that’s bringing more good to our 6.5 million loyal members … The program recently celebrated its three-year anniversary,” Rebelez said. “What guests love most about our loyalty program is the way … members have the flexibility to decide what works best for them. We look forward to continuing to grow membership and participation.”
The program’s updates, announced last month, include changes meant to make points tracking and rewards redemption simpler, and the company shared in the accompanying news release that the program accounts for more than 1 in 3 transactions with the retailer.
Casey’s is not the only major convenience retailer upgrading its loyalty program nor highlighting rewards flexibility as a key draw. ARKO Corporation subsidiary GPM Investments, the country’s sixth-largest convenience store chain, announced earlier this spring a rewards program refresh that includes virtual wallet features, geo-fencing capabilities, order-ahead options and a wide range of perks, among other changes.
“The brand-new, custom interface is the most flexible way to use earned rewards,” ARKO CEO, chairman and president Arie Kotler said in a statement. “From cents off the gallon to discounted in-store purchasing, customers can choose how to spend rewards, deciding what reward best suits their immediate needs.”
Overall, rewards programs are catching on in the convenience store space, but not to the extent of other retail categories. According to PYMNTS’ study “Big Retail’s Innovation Mandate: Convenience And Personalization,” created in collaboration with ACI Worldwide and drawing from a survey of 300 large U.S. and U.K. retailers, 70% of convenience retailers and pharmacies believe that consumers would be very or extremely likely to switch merchants if not provided digital coupons and rewards.
This share may represent the majority of all convenience retailers by a considerable margin, but it lags behind the portion of cross-category retailers that believe the same — a whopping 77%.
Indeed, convenience stores seem to be less digitally focused overall. The study found that 72% of convenience retailers and pharmacies believe they would lose consumers’ loyalty without mobile apps, well below the 81% of retailers overall that said the same.
Given that grocers are ahead of the curve relative to convenience stores in terms of rewards program implementation, convenience retailers linked to major supermarket chains have the advantage when it comes to digital loyalty.
For instance, in the United Kingdom, supermarket chain Asda, which announced last week the nearly $3 billion acquisition of EG Group’s United Kingdom and Ireland business, said it was integrating the latter into its rewards scheme, offering grocery, convenience and fuel rewards, among others, through one program.
Similarly, in the United States, supermarket chain Giant Eagle, which has more than 470 locations across five states, enables consumers to earn and redeem rewards from its myPerks loyalty program at GetGo, its convenience store subsidiary.