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Thorntons’ rewards program takes off, aided by targeted promotions

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January 27, 2015

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Gasoline and convenience store chain Thorntons said its mobile rewards program surpassed its two-year goal in months and is on track to attract one million registrants by this spring, as program managers leverage targeted promotions to get members to visit more frequently.

Among other delivered benefits, the program is helping the chain more effectively manage retail categories, so that when customer buying patterns change, the chain can deliver targeted promotions that re-invigorate previous buying behaviors. The app’s success points to mobile’s importance in providing crucial data that can improve sales.

“Marketers in general gain an advantage through leveraging the data that’s available today via a mobile device, such as location, for example,” said Kristen House, product manager for mobile, with Paytronix Systems. “Our customers are directly benefiting from sending highly relevant geofenced messages that leverage location.

“It pays for a brand to catch its guests attention when they’re on-the-go, in the midst of making a buying decisions,” she said. “These campaigns are delivering unbelievable redemption rates.”

Pilot program
Thorntons implemented the Paytronix loyalty platform Sept. 29 to support its Refreshing Rewards customer loyalty program across 178 locations.

The technology enables Thorntons to deliver varying levels of rewards based on guest visit, spending and purchase behavior.

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Following a successful 22-store pilot program in Lexington, KY, and Nashville, Thorntons Refreshing Rewards rolled out across all of its stores between July and September.

The initial goal was more than three quarters of a million members by the end of the year.

By capturing guest data, Thorntons could personalize the guest experience and build relationship-based loyalty. Thorntons is now able to deliver relevant, one-to-one messages that strengthen the relationship between the brand and its customers.

Thornton also transmits specific data on which customers are buying which stock keeping units, back to consumer packaged goods vendors, allowing them to transform buyer-level information into more targeted, high-yield promotions.

The system also lets Thorntons quickly communicate with guests on weekly promotions, gas pricing, distance to the next reward, and remind guests of rewards earned, as well as expiration dates.

Guests can download the Thornton’s Refreshing Rewards application from the Apple App store or Google Play Store. When they open the app for the first time, they will be prompted to either sign in to an existing account or enroll in the program via the application by selecting “I Need a Card.” Once they are signed in or signed up, they can enjoy the benefits of the Thornton’s app.

Members can view rewards, identify themselves with a barcode at the POS, find nearby Thornton’s locations, and view messages – all of these features bolster guest engagement with the app over time. Users can also notify their friends via SMS, email, Twitter or Facebook when they’ve earned a reward, allowing them to act as a brand ambassador in their social networks.

Staying relevant
Members can also keep track of their membership level as they progress from the welcome level, to premium, to VIP. All rewards are loaded in real-time, courtesy of Paytronix’s POS integration with Thornton’s.

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Redeeming rewards with a simple touch.

“Reaching consumers on the medium that is most relevant to them is key,” Ms. House said. “The more relevant the communication, the more the method is preferred.

“The mobile device delivers several communication advantages,” she said. “When it comes to apps that are integrated to loyalty programs, consumers gain the convenience of a card-free program where they can identify themselves through the app, view their reward balance, and redeem rewards with a simple touch.”

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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