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    Grocers Team Up with Gas Stations to Offer Discounts

    PITTSBURGH -- SUPERVALU's Shop 'n Save grocery stores here deployed Excentus Corp.'s Reward Marketplace technology to cross-market with Sunoco gas retailers to offer discounts at the pump based on purchases at the grocery stores.

    More than 40 Shop 'n Save supermarkets and 70 Sunoco locations are offering the fuel promotion, called "Pump Perk," with more locations added each week. The program uses the Shop 'n Save Rewards Card and is managed by the grocer’s supply chain organization in New Stanton, Pa.

    "We're excited to make use of the Excentus technology to enable shoppers at Shop 'n Save to redeem their discounts at Sunoco fuel outlets. The Excentus application provides a seamless integration between the two locations," said Jeff Hassman, manager of retail marketing for Sunoco.

    The cross-marketing promotion is possible through the Reward Marketplace suite of products by Excentus Corp.'s Reward Marketing Engine and Reward Link. The applications allow fuel and retail operations to integrate and automate to facilitate the programs.

    "Shop 'n Save stores are able to reap the benefits of offering gasoline discounts as an incentive without the cost of building fuel sites themselves,"Brandon Logsdon, general manager at Excentus, said in a written statement. "Also, they were able to offer the promotion right away by aligning with Sunoco as opposed to ramping up the program after adding fuel sites to their locations."

    The system's central host provides a link between the grocery purchases and rewards earned at the supermarket and local Sunoco-branded fuel retailers where rewards are redeemed.

    In other news from the grocery industry, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter signed a bill into law that allows gasoline to be sold to consumers below cost, which resulted in three grocery chains -- Safeway and Kroger's King Soopers and City Market -- reinstating their gasoline discount programs based on grocery purchases, the Denver Post reported.

    In the Safeway program, which was reinstated Monday, club card holders who buy at least $50 in groceries in a single purchase will get a 10-cent per gallon discount at the company's gas stations.

    "I think that's great, because that's more free enterprise," said Carl Roach, filling up this week at a Safeway in Denver.

    King Soopers and City Market grocery stores reintroduced their program with the same 10-cent discount per gallon for every $100 spent in grocery purchases when customers use their SooperCard.

    Ritter signed the bill "because he believes it will be good for consumers and that there are protections for smaller individual outlets," Ritter spokesman Evan Dreyer told the newspaper. The governor "will be watching this very, very closely to make sure there are protections and there are no negative effects on independent operators."

    The new law is "disappointing," according to Colorado Wyoming Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association executive vice president Roy Turner.

    The grocers "have thousands upon thousands of different items (on which) to make up the cost inside their stores, whereas a small retailer doesn't have that many items," Turner told the Post.

    The new law revokes a 1937 law that prevented the sale of fuel below cost. In November, the grocers stopped the program after a jury ruled that the programs violated the old law. Two independent gasoline dealers in Montrose, Colo., who filed the lawsuit were awarded $1.4 million in damages.

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