Spicewood, Texas-based Kwik Chek, which recently announced a plan to rebrand all store locations to Texas Born (TXB), relaunched its rewards program in June, refining the design and in-app payment, increasing flexibility in rewards redemption and adding gamification.
Kwik Chek CEO Kevin Smartt called the relaunch process a “long, winding road,” starting with about nine months of creating the new design and figuring out the integration between different partners used within the app, including P97 for mobile payment and Koupon Media for exclusive digital coupons.
“Once you have the refined product and are ready to launch, then there’s the actual relaunch process,” Smartt said. “It was quite a big endeavor, but I think it’s been well worth it.”
For Kwik Chek, with close to 50 locations throughout Texas and Oklahoma, the relaunch process involved educating and training employees on how the new enhancements work and how they can explain them to customers in the most efficient, easy way possible.
Once employees are up to speed, it’s time to educate the customer. In other words, advertising. Kwik Chek pulled out all the stops — “billboards, commercials, store signage, social media” — to make sure customers knew about the relaunch and why the app is better than ever.
Smartt cautioned other retailers to be patient in the development and launch periods.
“The more complete picture you have in the beginning, and the more complete development that you have, the better off you’ll be in the long run, even though it may cost you a little bit more up front,” Smartt said. “Because every time you have to add something, you have to go back and train your customer. It’s hard, it’s expensive, and it takes a while to get them to understand the changes you made.”
Ultimately, Smartt said Kwik Chek’s new app offers customers three key, standout features, starting with its seamlessness and ease of use, including in-app payment.
Through the new app, customers now have the ability to become a loyalty member and sign up for their kwikcard Rewards payment card directly within the app, rather than picking up a rewards card in-store and enrolling online.
“Our thought process was, yes, we want some enhancements that make the app more interesting to the consumer, but we also want to remove barriers and make it easier to use,” Smartt said. “(Mobile payment) was one process that sounds easy, but there are a lot of different parties that had to work together to make that happen.”
Kwik Chek had offered mobile payment through its old app but refined the process in the new version, which has proven especially valuable amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Since the pandemic, we’ve seen quite a large lift in mobile payment,” Smartt said. “Today, we have a little over 225,000 members with the app. Prior to this program, we were running about 140,000.”
Kwik Chek also removed limits on where customers can redeem their points. In the new app, all of the points customers earn can be redeemed at the pump on fuel or in-store on any other purchase.
Each time a customer purchases food, they will receive four points per food item. One point can be redeemed for one cent off per gallon of gas. Customers receive 100 points when they register for kwikcard Rewards, which can be redeemed for $1 off per gallon of gas (with a 20-gallon maximum) or $1 off an in-store transaction.
The third key feature of the new app is its gamification, which Smartt said has been “highly successful in driving new loyalty members,” starting with Kwik Chek’s 100 Days of Giveaways promotion, which ran from June 1 through Sept. 8. The promotion enabled participants to win one free prize every day by playing the virtual scratch-and-win game within the app.
Prizes included free gas for a year, free Kwik Chek coffee or fountain drinks for a year, signed footballs, Yeti coolers and golf bags, candy bars, snacks, food and more.
Kwik Chek has also been heavily promoting the giveaway across its social media channels, highlighting the prizes and prize winners as they were announced.
“We came up with a strategy with our PR firm to talk about the loyalty app, the giveaways and try to get local in our conversation with our consumers,” Smartt said. “And I think it’s proven to be very successful.”
While the 100 Days promotion has ended, gamification will be a continual part of the app, Smartt said.
Going forward, Kwik Chek is also working to offer mobile ordering, planning for a fourth-quarter launch, along with curbside pickup, both of which will be available at three new stores opening soon in the Austin area, all built from the ground up.
“We’ll probably launch that in two specific areas where we operate and try to do a trial run, work through some of the kinks before we move to the entire chain,” Smartt said.
And while Kwik Chek currently offers delivery through third-party vendors, Smartt said the chain is exploring the possibility of offering the service in-house.
“In the past, we weren’t thinking about doing delivery,” he said. “But now we think, with the branding of it, the whole process of it — we may need to own the whole process.”
Overall, Smartt sees digital innovation like mobile ordering as a permanent addition to c-store foodservice operations.
“I think as we continue to migrate down this digital pathway where consumers are more comfortable ordering online or via mobile app, and they have a good experience, I think it’s here to stay,” he said, “and it will only get better and more refined and enhanced as we go along.”