WINNER: United Dairy Farmers (UDF)
UDF’s refreshed U-Drive loyalty program combines increased personalization with a suite of rewards perks.
UDF revamped and relaunched its U-Drive loyalty program in early 2021, partnering with Paytronix to modernize its digital platform while creating a more personalized experience for guests.
“Our previous contract was up, and we were ready to take our program to the next level,” said Erin Sunderman, customer insights and loyalty manager at UDF, which operates nearly 200 convenience stores across the Midwest. “We migrated to Paytronix because of their experience in conducting targeted campaigns with successful programs like Panera, as well as their experience in the convenience industry. They are able to provide us with industry benchmarks and guide us as we test new components of our program.”
UDF customers can either sign up for the U-Drive program and loyalty card in-store or access the loyalty program by downloading UDF’s new mobile app.
“Our app is also more integrated with the loyalty program,” Sunderman added. “It is easy to track reward progress, and we can send targeted push messages.”
Once customers become active in the new-and-improved U-Drive loyalty program, they gain a number of perks, including the ability to lock in the lowest gas price of the day and in-store ‘Wednesday Freebies,’ which are giveaways powered by UDF partners and national brands. Coupons and special offers also help engage customers.
Loyalty program members also receive three cents off per gallon at the fuel pump every day. And members can earn additional rewards for in-store purchases, so they can save even more on fuel. For example, customers earn an additional three cents off per gallon for every purchase of a coffee or fountain drink. Savings are stackable, so the more guests engage with the loyalty program and the more purchases they make, the more their fuel discount builds.
“These savings add up, so if someone buys a coffee every day, Monday through Friday, by Friday they would have a balance of at least 15 cents per gallon,” Sunderman said.
The program also includes club-type savings. C-store customers can receive 10 cents off per gallon of gas for every five sandwiches or roller grill items purchased. There are also seasonal, high-value promotions on ice cream, such as ‘buy five shakes and save 50 cents per gallon’ or ‘buy four ice cream cones and save 40 cents per gallon on fuel.‘
“For every $25 spent in store (across multiple trips) members earn five cents/gallon, excluding categories such as gas, alcohol, tobacco, gift cards,” Sunderman said.
U-Drive also includes a few benefits that are not fuel-based. For example, when customers use their U-Drive card, milk is two for $6, and they can also get discounts on tobacco, and registered members can receive a free ice cream cone on their birthday.
“We also do free coupons in the app every Wednesday for those logged into U-Drive in the app,” Sunderman said.
Today’s customers want to earn and use discounts in multiple ways, and the program is allowing them to do just that. The program includes an “open design,” which allows UDF to target promotions toward specific guests or test and launch various new marketing campaigns quickly.
One of UDF’s goals with the program was to be able to harness data in order to better understand its customers, such as what motivates them and how they prefer to be contacted. This would enable it to best engage with shoppers on more relevant offers while better rewarding their brand loyalty and creating an improved customer experience for them overall.
Now, UDF can create personalized messaging and targeted campaigns based on purchase behavior, Sunderman said. Plus, it can see real-time data on its various loyalty campaigns to understand what is resonating with customers and what isn’t, which helps the chain better personalize future offers.
“All of our sales data is fed into the Paytronix system,” Sunderman said. “We can target customers based on their purchase behavior to help us reach our specific goals — i.e., drive coffee sales. This definitely allows us to better personalize the experience.”
Now, those whose purchase behavior shows they are interested in coffee receive the coffee offer. “(In the past) we used to send the same offer to everyone, so someone who doesn’t drink coffee would have gotten a coffee offer,” she said.
The c-store chain is already seeing results from the program. Spend per visit is up over $1 versus year ago,
The program is still evolving. UDF has spent 2021 testing various new components and will soon determine what new features it wants to add in 2022.
Looking ahead, UDF plans to continue growing its digital relationship with customers, while making sure its guests feel appreciated.
“Our goal is to increase penetration of our loyalty program and continue to increase visit frequency and basket size,” Sunderman said. “We hope to win visits (away) from the competition because customers see the value of our program.”
WINNER: Stinker Stores
Stinker Stores’ new in-app rewards programs offers multiple redemptions with a single scan and stands out with a gamification feature to keep customers engaged.
Stinker Stores, with 103 convenience stores across Idaho, Colorado and Wyoming, launched its new Rewards and Gamification app-based loyalty program powered by Liquid Barcodes at the end of June, injecting some fun into the rewards process.
Stinker was looking to raise the bar in rewarding its loyal customers with maximum savings.
“We wanted to ensure we were providing our customers all the savings that can be harnessed through available incremental funding by utilizing a loyalty program,” explained Shelley Coleman, category and merchandising manager for Stinker. “Given our customer loyalty throughout the pandemic, the timing seemed better than ever to return the highest level of savings possible to our loyal patrons in a way that is both fun and easy for them to use.”
The loyalty program is available via the Stinker Stores app, which can be downloaded for free from Apple or Google app stores.
“The fun, iconic nature of our Mascot, Polecat Pete, really comes through in our app and provides both rewards, games and smiles for our customers,” she said.
Stinker’s goal is to deliver convenience for customers through a ‘one scan’ process. In other words, when customers scan the app at the point of sale, they can immediately receive a host of rewards, including dispensed beverage savings, award stamps or digital ‘card punches,’ and engage savings from bundled item purchases — all at the same time with just a single scan.
“Our IT department performed extensive research on a loyalty program that would provide our customers with savings, fun engagement and deliver a point of difference for us as the retailer,” Coleman said. “Liquid Barcodes in conjunction with the app developer, Rovertown, not only delivered that, but also shined as great partners to work with from ingenuity to rollout.”
The program is app-based, with no card option, which Stinker thinks best aligns with how its customers want to redeem and earn rewards.
“Given the percentage of our customers who own smartphones, this seemed like the best fit for convenience, ease of use and reward redemption,” Coleman said.
The app officially went live to Stinker’s customer base on June 23, 2021, and is available to use at all 103 Stinker Store locations. When customers download the app, they are instantly rewarded with an offer for a free coffee or fountain drink. They also get rewards when they refer friends or family to the program.
One of the standout features of the new loyalty program is the gamification aspect. Customers can play daily games in-app for a chance to win free products and coupons.
For example, one game consists of spinning a rewards wheel, with the hope that the spinner stops on a free candy bar or another prize that guests can redeem on their next visit.
“This acts as both a customer appreciation tool but also allows vendors an opportunity to sample their products and increase their own brand’s traction,” Coleman said.
Another key feature is the aforementioned in-app stamp cards for coffee, fountain and energy drinks, which takes the manual punch-card program Stinker used to offer and pulls it into the app, offering a high level of convenience by electronically tracking stamps like a digital punch card.
Stinker’s coffee and fountain programs both deliver a free reward item once the customer purchases six, with doughnuts expected to join the stamp program down the line. Loyalty customers buying energy drinks can get one free after purchasing nine.
Currently, the app can only be used for in-store transactions. However, it does offer a link to Stinker’s fuel savings app, which is called DINOPAY. Through DINOPAY, customers can save up to 30 cents per gallon at the pump.
“The (Stinker Stores) app truly represents the positive and fun level of service we strive to deliver for every one of our customers, employees and vendor partners,” Coleman said.