How to create efficient loyalty program for gas or charging station
The fueling business is special – it has a low profit on the main goods and a high level of competition. Thus, companies in this industry mostly benefit from selling supplementary services and goods. A loyalty and rewards program will help fuel stations to attract customers and increase profitability.
A loyalty program for a fueling or charging station must meet two basic criteria. Such a program must increase customers’ benefits from recurring visits. Also, customers must not spend too much time on supplementary operations.
By subscribing to the inCust service, an owner of a gas station business gets access to the business control panel, where s/he independently sets up the program terms: discounts or coupons, regular or promotional (expiring) bonus points. You can also set up and combine various rules of existing loyalty programs.
For example, one can offer a gas station visitor to receive a discount and to get additional bonus points, if this visitor fulfills the conditions of the promotion. The rules of the loyalty program can depend on the amount of the sale or other conditions. As an option, when a customer purchases 5 gallons (20 liters), he or she will receive a discount of 0.5%; if more than 10 gallons (40 liters) are purchased, then the additional 1% discount is applied in addition to the base discount on the loyalty card.
All of these rules are set entirely by the owner of the loyalty program.
The algorithm of the operations is simple: from the cashier’s workplace, the information about the sale gets into the inCust system, where preset rules are applied to it. The sale is handled according to these rules and the information returns to the cashier with comments on further action. If necessary, the customer can receive the results of processing concurrently with the cashier. Notification can arrive via SMS or a mobile app message. The message will contain the amount of credited bonus points, which can be redeemed during the next visit to this particular gas station or any station in the network.
Reducing the time spent
The main task of both inCust platform and salespeople of gas stations is to minimize the time spent by customers on participation in the loyalty program. The best option can be a digital inCust card, which is linked to a customer’s phone number.
A modern person will not forget or lose his or her phone number. So, it will be fine for a customer to spell the phone number to a cashier – first, when registering in a loyalty program, and later, when being its participant.
To simplify authentication, you can offer customers to install the inCust mobile app, which creates a unique QR code for every customer.
The inCust platform also supports outdated but common plastic loyalty card programs. An unlimited number of plastic card numbers can be linked to a digital customer’s card, and after doing this, plastic cards will also identify customers.
From our experience, we can say that there exist three main ways to collect information about customers.
The first one is the integration of the inCust platform with the cash register or POS system and creation of a single integrated solution with extended functionality. inCust provides an open API and helps with the integration at no charge. In this case, a scanner for QR codes or plastic cards appears at a cashier’s workplace.
The second option is using a separate application called inCust Terminal. A salesperson enters the total sum of the sale amount in order to credit bonus points to the customer. Redeeming of bonus points is also performed in this application. When redeeming bonus points, their sum is transferred to a salesperson’s accounting system, where bonus points are applied as a discount on the sale.
And the third option is the most efficient, in our experience. With this option in use, the time that customers spend at the checkout is being reduced to a minimum. The element of gamification can be added as well.
Example: there’s a tablet installed with the screen facing the customer. On the tablet, one can see the big green flashing “Start” button. The customer taps the button and is prompted to enter his/her phone number or scan the unique QR code from the inCust mobile app using the camera of the tablet. After doing this, the customer gets into his or her personal account, where promotions and individual offers are displayed. Here, you can ask customers about the quality and speed of service. While the customer is working with the account, information about the customer is transmitted to the accounting system and immediately appears on the screen of the salesperson.
One can achieve several goals at once. First, the time of serving a customer is reduced. Second, it becomes possible to ask for feedback on the quality of service at the gas station. Third, this option lets one introduce modern methods of payment at the checkout. A customer can use the inCust mobile app to scan the QR code and the bill with the tablet at the cash register: the system will automatically redeem bonus points, apply the discount according to the loyalty program rules, and will let the customer pay with electronic money using various payment or banking systems.
Importance of salespeople
The important moment of starting a loyalty program is the training of salespeople. It is necessary to make them learn a certain conversation script, which contains an element of intrigue.
Instead of making the standard “Would you like to join our loyalty program?” offer, which many customers automatically refuse, you can ask them: “Do you want to pay with bonus points or cash?”. Or, you can offer to credit bonus points on the customer’s loyalty account, if he or she signs up by simply telling the phone number to the cashier.
In some companies that use inCust, the rate of involvement in the loyalty program reached 94% of the total number of the customers.
If for some reason, it is impossible to integrate inCust with the existing accounting or POS system, or if it is inconvenient to maintain two parallel systems (one for cash accounting and another one for the loyalty program), it is possible to integrate a loyalty program using other mechanics. For example, consider payment for visits: each customer receives a certain number of bonus points, which he or she can later use to get certain prizes. This option turned out to be appealing to customers. Also, it helps in creation of a customer database for further use.
The business control panel contains full analytics by categories of customers (new customers, active customers, lost customers), which helps to see the distribution of customers in these categories. And it is necessary to work with all these customers in order to return them to the gas station or to increase the number of their visits.
It is possible to configure any analytic filters, for example, “Men, who used to refuel more than X gallons (liters) and didn’t make visits to this station for more than six months.” These people can be contacted by crediting bonus points or by offering a coupon to them.
An automated loyalty program is a magnet, with the help of which you can return some of the “lost” customers, increase their loyalty and increase the revenue at the gas station. Crediting of bonus points can increase the possibility of visiting a gas station because people do not like to lose the funds on their accounts.
Such triggers also include personalized birthday greetings and gifts to customers on this date.
Alternative forms of payment can be useful for gas stations. Customers can pay not just with cash, but also with the help of the terminal, using the inCust mobile app, or at the checkout by scanning the QR code of his or her digital wallet and paying with electronic money.
Besides, the inCust platform allows you to create prepaid fuel cards for customers. All information about the fuel, purchased in advance, or the amount of available credit in such cases will be stored in inCust accounts.
A company can distribute fuel cards among employees. These people come to the gas station, where they can tell their phone number to a cashier, scan the QR-code or show a plastic card. All variety of identification methods can be used with the inCust platform. So, the customer, who provides the phone number, will receive a PIN-code, which will be used to prove his or her identity.
The mechanisms, listed above, can also help to arrange cross-sales. For example, you can sell fuel to customers of the car wash nearby with a small discount, attracting new customers. Employees of the car wash can use the application on a smartphone or give paper coupons to the customers. Gas stations can send their customers to friendly companies, and friendly companies can do the same.
At the same time, the inCust platform allows to track the movement of customers and provides analytics for conducting settlements with partners and associated companies.
There are many possibilities of using the inCust platform in business. Yet, first of all, you need to answer a few questions:
- What kind of loyalty program will work in certain case: bonus, discount, mixed?
- What rules will the loyalty program have? You can sign up for inCust service for free and test the salesperson’s workplace to see how the rules affect the process.
- Will there be the integration of the accounting system and loyalty program implemented?
inCust offers the API for integration with third-party systems. The technical documentation is available on the inCust website.
- If integration is not possible or not required, will you use some gamified scheme (such as crediting bonus points for every visit) or some other, customized, scheme?
In any case, you are welcome to contact inCust – we will be happy to help and suggest the best options for your business!