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    Shell Expects Biggest Year Yet for Fuel Rewards Network

    By Brian Berk, Convenience Store News

    HOUSTON -- Shell's Fuel Rewards Network (FRN) has grown to include millions of members in the two years since its launch, and 2014 is expected to be the biggest year yet for the loyalty program.

    The Fuel Rewards Network, provided by Excentus Corp., allows Shell-branded operators to offer fuel rewards to their customers. Retailers can assign fuel-price discounts to any item they sell in-store, such as 5 cents off with the purchase of a cup of coffee or 2 cents off when they buy a fountain drink.

    FRN is currently available in more than 200 U.S. markets, with its largest membership bases in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tampa and Nashville. According to Excentus, FRN members have saved more than $300 million in fuel costs to date, with the goal being to save consumers $1 billion.

    In an effort to show how much consumers can save, FRN created the Fuel Rewards Index, which calculates which states and designated market areas have saved the most money in fuel rewards. During a three-month period in 2013, customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida have saved the most -- an average of 39 cents or more per gallon, according to the index.

    Broken down by region, Chattanooga, Tenn., is the No. 1 area for fuel savings. Consumers save an average of 48 cents per gallon in this city, followed by a 46-cent-per-gallon average savings enjoyed by Savannah, Ga., consumers.

    JP Walters, president of Marshall, Mich.-based Walters Dimmick Petroleum, operator of 62 Shell-branded convenience stores in southwest Michigan, told CSNews Online that he's seen customers at his stores fill up their gas tanks for as little as 40 cents.

    "The price can go as low as 1.9 cents per gallon," said Walters. "But even $1 off per gallon is great. And when customers receive these discounts, they get really excited and talk about it on social media."

    To participate in Shell's Fuel Rewards Network, consumers need only to obtain a loyalty card.

    Since incorporating the program, the results have been excellent for Walters Dimmick Petroleum. "We saw the value of giving cents-per-gallon rollbacks at the pump based on store sales. There is big potential to bring customers to our sites," Walters said.

    "It's made our regular customers more loyal and we've seen increased site visits," he continued. "We've also seen new business as well. The word is spreading."

    A BIG SUMMER AHEAD

    Given that Shell's national footprint and marketing exposure is so big, it’s the closest to being a true nationwide network as far as a single fuel brand that exists, noted Brandon Logsdon, president and chief operating officer of Dallas-based FRN. "There are almost 15,000 Shell sites and there is a Shell station within five miles of 85 percent of Americans."

    This year, FRN provider Excentus will expand its partnership with Blackhawk Network to roll out gift card malls to all Shell gas stations participating in the program. FRN members will receive 5 cents off per gallon of fuel for every $50 worth of gift card purchases they make.

    And the Blackhawk Network partnership isn't the only big announcement coming from FRN this year. Excentus will continue to hit the road in support of its Great American Fuel Price Relief Tour. The company first hosted this event last June and it was met with plenty of positive feedback.

    "It was created to raise the awareness of the program's viability and relevance to the everyday consumer," said Logsdon. "The events vary from member signups at Shell stations around the country [to] national sporting events and entertainment sponsorships."

    By Brian Berk, Convenience Store News
    • About Brian Berk Brian Berk is managing editor of Stagnito Media's Convenience Store News and Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner, where he specializes in covering motor fuels, technology and financial news. He has served the magazine industry for 13 years and has also worked in the radio and newspaper fields. Berk holds a bachelor's degree in communications from the State University of New York at Cortland and a master's degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn.
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