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BARTLESVILLE, Okla. -- What do gas stations, convenience stores and e-commerce have in common?
For Phillips 66, the answer is "convenience." A bag of chips and a Coke bought at a gas station can ease a long trip. So can an MP3 music file downloaded from an in-store kiosk or e-mail picked up on a wireless device from the same kiosk.
Beginning this month, the petroleum company is transforming its Circle K and Union 76 gas stations and convenience store chains into e-commerce engines. Utilizing applications from e-commerce vendor BroadVision, Phillips is expanding its e-commerce offerings at in-store ZapLink kiosks, the company's Circlek.com and 76.com websites, and on wireless devices to provide time-savings and convenience. Some initiatives will produce new revenue streams; others will strengthen loyalty by providing timely information and easy payment options.
"A convenience store does not translate literally to the Web or handheld," explained Scott Templeton, innovations manager for Phillips 66. "We can't sell beer, cigarettes and soft drinks online. But we can sell -- and give away -- new forms of convenience that will build customer loyalty and make us a pervasive resource in our customers' lives."
Among the initiatives Phillips is implementing or planning are:
* MP3 music downloads. Phillips earlier this month introduced a library of 3,800 songs that customers in Philadelphia-area Circle K stores can download at the in-store ZapLink kiosks. By mid-Februrary, this offering will be deployed at the 41 stores in the Philadelphia market, as well as 35 stores in the Phoenix, Ariz. market. If the kiosk offers are successful, a larger rollout is planned for 1,000 locations by end of 2002.
* Shopping. The ZapLink kiosks currently provide consumers with access to more than 50 Internet shopping sites. Phillips expects to make this same capability available on its websites through its BroadVision application by early second quarter 2002.
* Pervasive computing. Beginning second quarter 2002, customers who download the pervasive computing application Kronofusion will be able to connect to their home or work PC from the ZapLink kiosks.
* Prepaid wireless phone service. Beginning in February, Phillips customers will be able to prepay at in-store kiosks for cell phone access. This new cellular service provides unlimited local calling for a flat monthly fee and long distance service through a calling card. For those who prefer this wireless option, the ability to "refuel" the phone on the road is a major plus.
* Handheld Web access/Future Parking lot Web access. Palm Pilot and Pocket PC users now can use Phillips' kiosks to connect to download their e-mail and the latest news..
* Dealers. Phillips by third quarter 2002 will offer web site building and hosting to its nearly 10,000 dealers and marketers. The sites will maintain a uniform "look and feel" while being personalized for each dealer or marketer.
* Loyalty. To date the company has registered more than 13,000 customers on its Web site and by year-end plans to have 100,000 registrants it can market through e-mail programs.