As technology continues to improve, convenience store retailers are coming up with new ways to incorporate technology into their stores or to enhance the technology they already have.
Savannah, Ga.-based Parker’s Kitchen, which has 74 stores across Georgia and South Carolina, is one c-store that is always working to improve its technology, especially when it comes to meeting the needs and wants of its customers.
CStore Decisions is recognizing Parker’s as part of our Tech Innovation Awards for its drive and dedication to enhancing its technology to better connect with customers and provide them with the services that best fit their needs.
Improved Rewards App
Parker’s launched its Rewards app in 2016, and since then, the company has been ahead of the game when it comes to exploring contactless and frictionless payments.
As the company grew and more customers began using the app, Parker’s wanted to be able to better connect with customers, which led the company to spearhead the new app.
“Parker’s strives to constantly be at the cutting edge of technological advances where it makes the most sense as a benefit to the guest,” said Nick Hand, loyalty and brand manager for Parker’s. “There was a large disconnect between Parker’s and the guests with the previous app experience, and we’re excited to see how this new app will increase personalized engagement.”
With its customers in mind, Parker’s relaunched the Rewards app with a new user-friendly design that allows users to have a better experience with coupons and rewards that fit their needs, along with increased security.
“The app update’s primary focus was to provide a cleaner, updated look that is not only more user-friendly but also allows for much more personalized content that can be curated to each guest’s preference and behavior,” said Hand.
Since the app’s relaunch, Parker’s has even seen an increase in customer interactions inside its stores.
“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in engagement and coupon awareness even in the short time the app update has been live — having control over where and how the coupons are made known is a key factor in bringing the best value to the guest,” said Hand.
With the new Rewards app, coupons, rewards and messaging can be updated instantly and require no development efforts to change them. The new platform will also allow for future integrations, including gamification, native online ordering, subscription management and more.
“We are also adding more items to the center store for mobile ordering. We are even going to partner with delivery services like Uber Eats, Grubhub and DoorDash to allow people to get delivery from the Rewards app as well,” said Scott Smith, senior director of information technology for Parker’s.
Parker’s really emphasized establishing personalization for customers when improving its coupons and rewards offerings.
“Our rewards and coupons are now smarter than ever,” said Hand. “Our offers are generated based on a guest’s typical purchase behavior, so we understand who they are and what they want at a much greater level.”
When it comes to security, Parker’s has improved its protocols on the app to ensure customers’ information stays safe and secure.
“Updated security protocols and cutting-edge technology are at the forefront of the latest app development, while maintaining required PIN code verification and device-use fraud protection by incorporating a text verification step upon sign-up for the app,” said Hand.
Tech at the Pump
Along with improving the Rewards app, Parker’s also enhanced its pump activation process.
“Our pump activation process has been greatly improved with more accurate location detection and a streamlined payment process, and now includes a maximum price cap during a fill-up if the guest chooses to apply it,” said Hand. “We are working on integrating more payment options into the contactless methods.”
Also, while at the pump, customers can use the Rewards app on their phones to order items instead of going inside to order.
“We allow people to go into the mobile app and order directly from the app for in-store pickup,” said Smith. “We made the decision that most people pull out their phones while they’re waiting to fuel up, so we figured we would allow them to order from their phones and walk inside to pick their order up.”
In addition to ordering on the app at the pump, Parker’s has added Pump Pal, which is Parker’s proprietary ACH debit card that allows customers to receive a 10 cents discount when they fuel up their vehicle with the card.
For customers who prefer a more contactless experience in-store, Parker’s has rolled out self-checkout kiosks at 38 locations and plans to continue adding the service to additional stores.
As technology continues to evolve, Parker’s plans to continue improving its Rewards app and other technology the company has in its c-stores to allow customers to have the easiest experience possible while in the stores.
“From the technology standpoint, we are trying to ease the customers’ experience when they come in the store,” said Smith. “Whether, that’s through digital signage, tap to pay or any other technology we offer.”