ExxonMobil, Shopkick Test Check-in Rewards at Gas Station C-Stores

By Apr 06, 2012

In an apparent effort to take some of the sting out of a trip to the pump, gasoline retailer ExxonMobil is reaching out to location-based rewards platform Shopkick and testing a program that will give registered users Kicks rewards simply for walking into an Exxon or Mobil retail store the next time they gas up.

Starting immediately, smartphone-equipped drivers at some 375 Exxon or Mobil gas station/c-store installations in three cities—New York, Miami and Washington, D.C.—will be able to open the Shopkick app, enter the c-store and earn Kicks, points in Shopkick’s cross-retail reward system that can then be used to purchase gift cards, movie tickets, entertainment downloads or Facebook Credits, among other things.

The pilot program is intended to test the power of location-based rewards to build customer loyalty for ExxonMobil at a time when many gas shoppers are becoming increasingly disloyal. Where once shoppers stuck primarily to the same gas stations, mostly because they were near home or convenient to an often-traveled route, today’s rising gas prices are influencing more drivers to go out of their way to cut the cost of filling up that tank.

“ExxonMobil came to us because it is in a commodity business and is looking for ways to differentiate itself,” Shopkick chief revenue officer Doug Galen says of the partnership.

“Look, gas is upward of $4 a gallon,” he says. “When I fill up my car, I feel it. They’re looking for a way to give back some added value to the consumer.”

The other aim is to see if consumer behavior can be changed: both by getting some shoppers who usually pay at the pump to come into the convenience store and shop, or possibly by getting them to come to their Exxon or Mobil station more frequently. ‘We’re seeing if we can influence behaviors and create one extra trip to the gas station, one extra stop at the convenience store in a week,” says Galen.

Users of the Shopkick geo-location app can simply open the app when they drive into a participating Exxon or Mobil station and are alerted to the campaign by signs at the curb and the pumps. Once opened, Shopkick’s app uses proprietary tech to detect when a user has actively crossed the threshold of the c-store and awards the Kickbucks points.

Getting shoppers out of the cars and into the stores is a big step in increasing revenue per visit because conversion rates for such walk-ins are high, Galen says. Future iterations of the campaign may involve rolling out offers that let users earn more rewards for scanning actual items on the c-store shelves.

Shopkick has partnered on location-based rewards with some 11 national retailers and 40 major brand partners, including Target Stores, Best Buy, Macy’s and Procter & Gamble. But this test is the company’s first collaboration with a gas retail brand.