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SAVANNAH, Ga. — When it comes to mobile marketing, Parker’s Corp. has two notions in mind. The first: In what ways can mobile payment bring the company’s slogan of “Fast, Fresh & Friendly” to life? The second: “We gotta do it now,” Jeff Bush, director of fuel management, told Convenience Store News during a recent visit to the retailer's Savannah headquarters.
As part of the company’s 40th anniversary celebration, Parker’s is on the cusp of making mobile payment available to its PumpPal members by adding the feature to the Parker's mobile app — something Bush refers to as “an exclusive experience.” PumpPal is Parker's proprietary loyalty program that gives members an everyday 10-cents-per-gallon discount on fuel.
“We value our PumpPal members and we built [mobile payment] as another way to give them a higher level of service,” Bush said. “We have, however, built a malleable product. We can add additional payment methods in the future, but we wanted our loyal PumpPal members to enjoy an exclusive experience.”
Parker’s will join fellow convenience store chains, like Sheetz Inc., Cumberland Farms Inc. and MAPCO Express Inc., to name a few, in entering the mobile payment arena.
To develop a mobile payment platform that customers can receive a fluid experience from and enjoy, Parker's worked with its point-of-sale company, Duluth, Ga.-based NCR Corp. and Zingon LLC, a technology company based in Providence, R.I. that specializes in branded mobile marketing. Zingon also designed Parker's mobile app, which launched last year and offers real-time information on the c-store retailer's daily deals, gas prices, store locations and more.
A CUSTOM EXPERIENCE
The way Bush sees it, there are only a handful of successful mobile apps and mobile payment platforms in the c-store industry today. So, when it came to developing Parker’s mobile app and mobile payment platform, the company took note of what success looks like and what drives convenience store customers to use mobile.
“We found that ease of use and speed were at the top of every list. With that information, we knew to be successful we had to build a custom experience,” he explained. “To build the Parker’s mobile app [and mobile payment], we had to bring together multiple businesses to achieve our goals. We believe that our customers deserve the best, and we put forth the time, money and effort to give them just that.”
Parker’s mobile payment is currently being piloted internally at all its c-store locations. The chain wants to ensure every location can deliver on the brand’s “Fast, Fresh & Friendly” promise before making it available to PumpPal members in a full rollout. According to Bush, employee response has been "extremely positive" so far.
“The [mobile payment platform] is smooth, easy to use and delivers the ‘cool’ factor every time you use it to pay," he said.
Enrollment in Parker’s mobile payment is a seamless process, too. All a customer needs to do is add their current PumpPal card to their Parker's mobile app profile. “That’s it!” Bush exclaimed.
To use mobile payment, customers simply click the “Mobile Payment” button in the Parker's app and select if they want to pay inside or at the pump. If they are paying inside, they scan a barcode and enter their pin. At the pump, the app will pull up the customer's location via GPS and what store they are at. Then, the customer enters their pump number, the app turns on the pump, the customer enters their pin and they can start filling up.
The whole process takes literally a few seconds, as CSNews learned.
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE
Parker’s mobile payment platform is also ready to tackle EMV — the acronym for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, the three companies that originally created the security standard. Soon, EMV and chip and pin will be required at all Parker’s locations, adding about 13-14 seconds to every transaction.
“That doesn’t sound like much, but in our industry, our customers’ time is valuable,” Bush said. “When you take that 13-14 seconds and add it up over a year, a customer’s experience is drastically changing.”
Attesting that mobile payment is much more convenient and faster than card transactions, Bush said Parker's want customers to feel like the shopping experience is all about them, so time is of the essence.
“We don’t sell customers products, we sell them the most valuable commodity of all: time. [Mobile payment] is another way for us to give time back to our customers,” he said. “The transactions are surprisingly fast and extremely simple. Every customer who uses [mobile payment] to pay at our stores will be addicted to the convenience of the entire experience.”
Be sure to check out July's issue of Convenience Store News to learn how else Parker's is celebrating its 40th anniversary.