BP is dynamically innovating to keep pace with digital transformation. From its BPme app and soon-to-launch BPme Rewards program to its mobile app for site operators, the company is upgrading the consumer experience by reducing friction, while testing in new technological innovations for the future.
Simultaneously, BP is spearheading a transition to clean energy; crafting partnerships to give consumers more value; and growing both its BP and Amoco brands, as well as reinvesting in retail through its joint venture acquisition of Thornton’s.
All this and more makes BP one of Convenience Store Decisions’ Chains to Watch for 2019.
With its retail fuels business headquartered in Chicago, BP opened 176 new BP stations in 2018, for a total of more than 6,500 BP sites in the U.S., operated by independent dealers.
The company is also expanding the Amoco brand, opening 84 new Amoco-branded sites between 2018 and May 2019. BP purchased the Amoco brand in 1998 from Standard Oil Company of Indiana, but took the brand off the market in favor of the BP brand in the early 2000s. In 2018, BP reintroduced the Amoco brand to the U.S. market.
“BP is our primary brand,” said Nicola Buck, head of marketing for BP. “Amoco is a really important secondary brand for us. We are committed to the U.S. market and to growing significantly.”
While the predominant focus remains on growing the BP brand, Amoco offers an ideal solution for dealers with neighboring sites that are too close together to both fly the BP flag.
“The Amoco brand is remembered so fondly in the U.S. from when it was around before, and has a great heritage that people remember and really love,” she said.
At the end of 2018, BP formed a joint venture with ArcLight Capital Partners, which acquired Louisville, Ky.-based Thorntons Inc., which operates 191 stores in six states. The c-stores continue to operate under the Thorntons banner.
“That’s a significant sign of our move towards getting convenience retail capability and owning convenience retail stations,” Buck said.
Today, the gas pump experience can take a whopping two minutes. BP is reducing friction and increasing the speed of the customer experience with its BPme mobile payment platform, which launched in 2018. With BPme, customers can open the app in the drivers seat, remotely unlock the pump and pay. Rewards are integrated into the app and directly applied to the fuel purchase.
In the fourth quarter of 2019, BP is set to launch BPme Rewards, which will replace its Driver Rewards program.
“It’s a really important evolution in our rewards journey,” said Buck, noting it takes the company another step toward frictionless fueling. In addition to awarding customers five cents off per gallon for every visit, BP is also building loyalty by creating a smoother, simpler experience.
“It’s easy. It’s automatic,” Buck said.
The app also includes gamification and surprise rewards.
Buck noted consumers today are more savvy with apps, and interactions with brands like Amazon have changed consumer expectations to where they are comfortable providing data in return for personalized rewards and a simplified experience. “Consumers expect that from gas stations, too,” she said.
BP will also continue to offer a way for consumers to link credit cards to the rewards program.
BP is committed to growth in the U.S. like never before, Buck said. “We’re listening to what our consumers need and want from gas stations in the future, and what our branded marketers want as well.”
Using those insights, BP continues to develop offers and services to differentiate itself. “We’re investing heavily in new technology to make sure we’re transforming our offers to be relevant for the future,” Buck said.
Through its digital platform, BP continues to test new initiatives, like linking the BPme app to the in-car dash system, which would give consumers insights into fuel level and driving style. “We could start to talk to consumers about offers for more oil or encourage them to fill up after so many miles,” Buck said.
In another test, cameras recognize if a car is dirty, allowing for proactive car wash promotions. In a recent podcast, BP spoke with CSD about a lab pilot it did to test using biometrics at the pump.
BP also launched a new app in April for its branded marketers and site operators that provides on-the-go access to marketing resources, personalized site performance dashboards and training materials.
“We have this in a desktop version, and we know it’s really well received. This mobile version gives them real-time, relevant information about their BP and Amoco branded stations in a simple and easy-to-use way,” Buck said.
BP recently launched a new global advertising campaign,” Keep Advancing,” focused on BP’s investment in becoming a leader in the energy transition. BP has a target of 3.5 million tons of sustainable greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 2025. It’s also taking action to minimize methane, the primary component of natural gas, from entering the atmosphere.
“The reality we face is the world requires more energy to fuel progress and the living standards we all expect, but we’re also demanding energy that’s produced and delivered in new ways with fewer emissions,” said Dave Welch, director of brand communications for BP. “Renewables are really important … but that’s not enough. We have to make all our forms of energy cleaner and better.”
BP has created an RIC framework, which stands for Reduce-Improve-Create. BP is reducing its own emissions and meeting its greenhouse gas target, improving its products to help customers reduce their own emissions and investing in creating low-carbon businesses.
BP partnered with GetUpside, and in January began offering real-time, personalized gas saving offers to GetUpside and GasBuddy app users. BP continues to form new regional partnerships to offer savings to consumers, including with several regional Kroger brands, Mariano’s, Harris Teeter and Pick ‘n Save.
“You will see more partnerships and more innovation in technology as we move into 2020,” Buck said.
Listen to CSD’s recent podcast about c-stores of the future, where Nicola Buck, head of marketing for BP, shares information about the chain’s recent biometrics lab test, BPme mobile app and the importance of planning for a digital future.