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Focusing On The Customer

Shell innovates with a new loyalty program, contests and alternative fuels

In the past year, Shell Oil Co. showed its continued focus on the consumer through the launch of new programs, contests and fuel innovation, including its Fuel Rewards Network loyalty program and the second year of its Road Trip Sweepstakes. The company's goal is to grow its position in the United States as the preferred brand of fuel.

"With a branded retail fuel presence in all 50 states through more than 14,000 sites, Shell continues to embrace new and innovative programs that help drive continued growth in a competitive environment," Dan Little, the company's North America fuels and forecourt manager, told Convenience Store News.

In June, Shell launched Fuel Rewards Network (FRN), its new loyalty program — owned and operated by Excentus Corp. — that offers multiple ways for consumers to earn rewards for instant fuel savings at participating Shell stations. The company has partnered with grocery stores, restaurants and more, allowing consumers to stack multiple rewards together for a bigger savings at the pump.

"The program is a tangible example of Shell's customer focus," Little said. "Consumers can earn rewards at more than 10,000 participating restaurants nationally, hundreds of brand-name online merchants from the Online Mall, e-coupons and specialty offers at select participating Shell stations. In select markets, consumers can also earn rewards through participating grocery stations."

Since the launch, Shell successfully turned on rewards redemption at a pace of 30 to 40 markets per month, and the program is now available in more than 180 U.S. markets.

One of the most recent additions to the program is iPhone and Android applications (apps), which enable program participants to check their rewards balance; find places near them to earn more rewards; get fuel prices; see their personal fuel price and savings per gallon; and view recent transactions.

"With nearly 2 million registered FRN cards and growing, consumers have taken notice of how effective the FRN program can be to help them save money at the pump on high-quality fuels at Shell," Little explained. "While the different ways to save vary by market, some savvy program adopters have paid as little as 1 cent per gallon for fuel at participating Shell stations, with the average FRN program user's savings [being] 29 cents per gallon."

As of Jan. 31, more than 6,700 of Shell's sites were participating in redeeming fuel rewards through the company's partnerships with Kroger, Giant and Stop and Shop supermarkets. Last year, Jewel-Osco and Hy-Vee also joined the program. The Hy-Vee Fuel Saver program, in particular, rewards consumers with fuel discounts at participating Shell stations when they shop Hy-Vee and swipe their Hy-Vee Fuel Saver Card at checkout. Consumers opt to link this card with the Shell FRN card, Little said.


Another way Shell is giving back to its customers is through a variety of contests and promotions, including its popular Road Trip Sweepstakes, which returned for a second time this past summer. Shell invited consumers to share their favorite road trip memory or route for a chance to win a year's worth of gasoline, and then picked eight winners.

"Thousands of motorists from across the country participated in 2012," Little reported. "The campaign provided an opportunity for Shell to share smarter driving tips to ensure consumers could properly prepare their vehicle for the road to safely reach their destination, and to explain the protection benefits of fueling up with a higher quality fuel like Shell Nitrogen Enriched Gasoline before hitting the road."

Additionally, the company announced the winner of its nationwide Shell V-Power Ultimate Enthusiast contest in January, sending the lucky customer on a trip to Italy. The goal was to reach consumers who are "truly passionate about all things automotive," and to achieve this, consumers were asked to share stories on why they were the most deserving of the "Ultimate Enthusiast" title, Little explained.

To pick the winner, Shell assembled a judging panel of recognized automotive insiders and paid to fly the top three finalists to Scottsdale, Ariz., for a VIP experience at the opening night gala of the 42nd annual Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction.

The grand-prize winner, Harold Craige, was announced on stage at the opening night gala. Craige won a weeklong experience in Maranello, Italy, to witness firsthand how Shell has worked with Ferrari for more than 60 years in a technical partnership.

Shell also continues to provide daily gift card giveaways through the On the Road tab on its Facebook page, and through May 6, the company is holding a sweepstakes where one lucky winner and five friends will win a year's supply of gasoline. Other promotions will be revealed later this year.


In November, Shell announced plans to invest more than $20 billion by 2015 to develop liquefied natural gas (LNG) and gas-to-liquids (GTL) production. The company believes the demand for traditional hydrocarbon fuel components, biofuels, hydrogen, electricity and natural gas — including GTL, LNG and compressed natural gas (CNG) — will continue to increase, resulting in multiple combinations of fuel and drivetrain options, varying by market.

"Shell believes liquid hydrocarbon fuel components blended with sustainable biofuels represent the most realistic commercial solution to reduce CO2 emissions in the road transport sector over the next 20 years," company representatives told CSNews. "Natural gas — specifically LNG — as a transportation fuel has the potential to provide real economic and environmental benefits for operators in large, heavy-duty applications, such as ships, mining, trucks and trains. Since there is an abundant supply of natural gas, it is affordable, making LNG a cost-competitive alternative fuel."

When compared to diesel, LNG has the potential to reduce emissions, and it is expected to take off rapidly in the marine sector as strict regulatory emission guidelines continue to be implemented in North America and Western Europe, the company stated.

Furthermore, in February, the company announced that a next-generation biofuels pilot plant was built at its Shell Technology Center in Houston. This plant will explore production of drop-in biofuels, rather than ethanol, using a range of feedstocks, starting with sugars and later including non-food cellulosic alternatives. Shell is also one of the largest producers of Brazilian sugar-cane ethanol through its joint venture, Raizen, with partner Cosan.


Shell Oil Products US

Headquarters: Houston

Division of: Royal Dutch Shell plc, The Hague, Netherlands

Corporate store count: 22

Operating names: Shell Food Mart

Areas of operation: Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania

Source: Directory of Convenience Stores (

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