Want points with your fill-up? That’s the incentive for drivers that pull into a Shell station thanks to a loyalty program partnership from FIS and Excentus, as the following article reports.
American Express’ ambitious multi-merchant rewards program, Plenti, failed last year, but it wasn’t a total loss. FIS took several lessons from Plenti that it’s applying to its own evolving payment card rewards program. Plenti enabled consumers to earn and redeem rewards at multiple merchants using any payment card, a concept that holds strong appeal in some markets.
“We watched the emergence of Plenti and saw the positives—consumers liked being able to use points at different retailers—but there needs to be a reason for people to use it regularly,” said Mladen Vladic, FIS’ general manager of loyalty.
Problems included friction in the original consumer sign-up process, and merchant-category exclusivity (which meant no direct competitors could be on the program; if ExxonMobil was in, Citgo was out).
What Plenti did right was get consumers interested in visiting specific merchants to earn points, and FIS wanted to capitalize on that dynamic. FIS also wanted to get consumers in the habit of using their card more often to earn and redeem points.
For years, FIS has offered a rewards program to more than 3,000 financial institutions on its platform with cash, gift cards, travel and merchandise rewards, but consumers tend to hoard points for these less frequent, bigger prizes, according to Vladic.
To increase the pace of earning and burning points, FIS in 2016 introduced Premium Payback, a new layer of its loyalty program enabling consumers to automatically rack up rewards for using credit and debit cards. They could then immediately redeem these points at places like gas stations, grocery and convenience stores.
C-stores and gas stations have been stepping up in loyalty programs given the competitive nature of these verticals. Both thrive on traffic volume and since their customers are usually in a hurry, loyalty offerings must be quick and convenient. FIS and Excentus are capitalizing on these trends, so expect the quality and usage of gas station loyalty to increase.
Overview by Raymond Pucci, Director, Merchant Services at Mercator Advisory Group