Case Study: Convenience Store Chain Streamlines Mobile Offer Creation

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Merchant: Kum & Go
Size: 430 stores
Locations: Iowa, Arkansas, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wyoming
Platform: Koupon Media, Facebook
Bottom Line: Using a platform that specializes in creating and distributing mobile offers can save businesses administrative time and curb instances of fraud.

Switching from paper to digital coupons usually saves businesses time and money, but that’s not always the case. For Mike Templeton, digital marketing manager at Kum & Go, a convenience store chain with hundreds of locations spread across 11 states, personally designing and managing the distribution of digital coupons quickly became a hassle.

“I was literally creating digital coupons in Photoshop. I’d put together the headline, the product shots, and the value, and then we’d stamp it with a barcode available in our system,” he says. “Once the offer had been created, we’d host it on our website or within an email, but we had to manage it very closely if we were concerned about over-use or fraud.”

Despite the early headaches, Templeton trudged on. He continued making his own digital coupons until he heard about how 7-Eleven had been working with a mobile offers platform called Koupon Media, and in 2013, he decided to make the switch.

“We were in dire need of an upgrade for the way we were handling digital coupons,” he says.

Every Kum & Go store is a company-owned location, which means the decisions that Templeton and his team make about marketing technology have to work everywhere. Templeton says this was a key consideration as the company approached Koupon to leverage the vendor’s mobile offers platform.

Now, four years after Templeton decided to take that leap, Kum & Go uses Koupon to power all offers that don’t run through the convenience store’s loyalty program. If Templeton is running a digital media campaign with a partner that includes a coupon as a call-to-action, then Koupon powers the delivery and redemption of that offer. The same is true for digital coupons that Kum & Go might make available through email, SMS, or social media. Templeton says he prefers to keep everything on one platform because it keeps things uniform and makes it easier for customer to quickly identify the details of each offer.

“[Koupon] provides a standardized platform to input all the offer details, including length of time available, redemption qualifications like customer or item limits, and a responsive web-based experience that can be accessed from any device,” he says. “It’s really saved us a lot of administration time and frees us up to do more strategic thinking about our business.”

Kum & Go also uses socially-enabled coupons to more effectively leverage social channels like Facebook to drive awareness for the brand and to promote offers available at individual Kum & Go stores.

Although Kum & Go’s digital strategy is constantly evolving, Templeton says the company is currently focusing on delivering mobile offers to anonymous customers, so that there’s no authentication required on the customer’s part.

“At this point in our journey, we’re trying to move past using technology for technology’s sake,” Templeton says. “My team is focused on making the technology as invisible as possible to the customer so that it’s easy for them to get what they want — we’re in the convenience business, after all.”

To determine the real value of a digital initiative like this, Templeton says he looks at standard metrics like offer views and offer redemptions. He’s also done some ancillary analysis about acceleration of sales with offers, and based on those results, he feels confident in his decisions thus far.

“We tend to look at the data in aggregate to give directional guidance on future offer planning,” he says.

Despite the positive ROI, Templeton predicts that Kum & Go will continue to change up its marketing strategy as the industry evolves over time.

“I think we’ll see the same trends that are emerging in faster-moving industries: personification, personalization, and frictionless integration,” he says. “In order for any of this stuff to work, it has to be relevant, engaging, and easy to use.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

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Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.