The 150-store convenience retailer Yesway has ambitious plans to acquire, improve and rebrand as many as 500 additional stores over the next few years. Even before this expansion occurs, however, the retailer is solidifying its business with an intense focus on customer loyalty.
Yesway launched Yesway Rewards on the Paytronix platform in June 2017. Initially introduced at 37 stores, the loyalty program soon became an integral part of the brand’s expansion. It’s now available to customers at more than 100 locations.
With the program, the convenience store has motivated:
- 45.2% of rewards members who pump gas at a Yesway location to go into the store;
- 44% of members who made one visit to redeem a reward in a 60-day period; and
- 40% of members to download the Yesway mobile app.
“Both Yesway and Paytronix share the same loyalty philosophy,” said Darrin Samaha, VP and Brand Manager at Yesway in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Lead with the store first and build loyalty around that — and then go out to the pump. That’s because we’ve already built a solid foundation of things that will entice both customers currently coming to the store, and those who may want to come into the store, but who haven’t yet seen anything that moved the needle for them to enter.”
Promotions With Coca-Cola, Red Bull, Frito Lay Draw Shoppers From Pump To Store
Yesway leverages its loyalty program to run joint promotions with numerous vendors, including Coca-Cola, Red Bull, Frito Lay and Altria among other major supplier partners, who often will fund the rewards.
Coca-Cola, for example, recently provided loyalty customers with an extra summer beverage reward — purchase any six 20-ounce Coke products and get a seventh for free. Red Bull offered a “three cents off per gallon” promotion on gas fill-up with the purchase of two 16-oz. cans — bringing guests into the store and driving new registrations.
“We took the insights from our loyalty customers and we introduced rewards for these types of products, and we see that people are redeeming these rewards,” Samaha said. “So we wanted to build other promotions around them that tie in fuel, to drive more visits and see if we could move the needle incrementally. We looked at the things we sell a lot of — tobacco is big for us, as well as the energy category and packaged beverages. Our category managers did a nice job of going to those suppliers and saying that we have a platform that really measures the success of these campaigns.”
For example, upon partnering with Altria, Yesway introduced a tobacco offer that realized a 52% take rate — the percentage of members that took action on the offer — in its first program phase. Yesway plans on launching similar promotions for its own private-label products this fall.
With the success of the program, Paytronix granted Yesway the 2018 Paytronix Loyaltee Award for Best Convenience Store Loyalty Launch.
Incentive-Driven Store Associates Drive Rewards Program Adoption
To maintain excitement about the program and continue to drive customer adoption, Yesway introduced an Employee Incentive Program featuring monthly contests between stores in February 2018. Associates engaged in friendly competition against each other, measured in terms of new registrations and adoption percentage. The percentage continues to climb each month; it was just shy of 19% as of August.
“One advantage that we have in our market is that more often than not, our store associates and our managers know their customers by first name,” Samaha said. “That’s a terrific advantage for us. When we first launched the program, more associates would know customers coming in, and whether or not they had a rewards card or downloaded the app. The selling point is a bit more natural for them that way, I believe. We actually gave our associates a month-long test period — a soft launch — to familiarize themselves with the program and make it easier to offer to customers.”
Yesway has more in store for its customer loyalty roadmap in 2019. The convenience retailer is testing a full-function mobile wallet within the Yesway app as well as digital couponing capabilities, and already has introduced a private debit program called Yespay into 10 stores. The Yespay program is offered as an upgrade within the Paytronix loyalty program, all from the same single sign-on.