NACS SHOW REWIND: Building a Successful Mobile App Strategy

Rovertown Co-Founder Jeffry Harrison pointed out c-store apps are the fourth most frequented e-commerce apps by consumers.
Don Longo
Editorial Director Emeritus
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Weigel's Nick Triantafellou (left) and Rovertown's Jeffry Harrison discuss mobile app strategies.
Weigel's Nick Triantafellou (left) and Rovertown's Jeffry Harrison discuss mobile app strategies.

ATLANTA — It seems like everyone has a mobile app, but not every retailer has a successful app strategy.

"Building A Successful Mobile App Strategy Through A Retailer's Eyes" was the topic of a morning education session at the 2023 NACS Show. Guest speakers Jeffry Harrison, who co-founded the app platform design firm Rovertown in 2012, and Nick Triantafellou, director of marketing and merchandising for Knoxville, Tenn.-based Weigel's convenience stores, talked about their experiences developing successful apps for convenience store chains.

Harrison said that his firm's work with Huck's convenience stores helped it develop a list of best practices for retailer apps. "The average U.S. consumer spends more time using apps than watching television and c-store apps are the fourth most frequented e-commerce apps by consumers," he said.

He noted there are three types of apps: a white label (basic); plug-and-play platform (intermediate); and custom app (advanced). Which one is right for you depends on such things as your competitive market, your community engagement, your brand recognition and how you want to use the app for such things as offering coupons and promoting specials, according to Harrison.

The Rovertown executive went on to list app strategies that work:

  • Day of the week deals: Push notifications to prompt specials and boost business on a pre-determined day of the week.
  • Mobile games: Games are the No. 1 genre of app downloads. Huck's built a very successful racing game using its sponsored NASCAR race car.
  • App-only coupons: MAPCO does exclusive VIP offers to reward club users.
  • Open your app to everyone: Eighty-two percent of customers are not loyalty members so the app should be available and welcoming to all customers, not just loyalty members.

According to Triantafellou, Weigel had four goals for its app strategy, with engagement at the top of the list. The retailer saw a 69 percent increase in promo redemptions when it launched Weigel's Wednesdays, a push notification every week about a freebie promo.

Another engagement tactic, the Dairy Dash game, generated a 15 percent increase in active users, including a 33 percent increase in Gen Z users, within 90 days. Increased engagement also came with the use of NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) partnerships with local college athletes.

The second goal of Weigel's app strategy was finding funding opportunities. To that end, the retailer developed a vendor guidebook — a roadmap for vendors to participate in the retailer's app promotions.

The third goal was making the app easy to use. The app is a single user-friendly place for customers to access offers, punch cards, fuel discounts, rewards and see loyalty card history. It also makes it easy for customers to give back by redeeming points that are donated to a local charity: Smokey Mountain Service Dogs, he said.

The fourth goal was integrations. Triantafellou described these as partnerships that expand the use of the app, such as a partnership with Vroom Delivery to deliver cigarettes, beer and food. Additionally, a partnership with Zipline allows 10 percent of Weigel's users to use this ACH payment at the pump, which saving on swipe fees.

Triantafellou added Weigel's has numerous future plans for its app, including creating a section for employees only so they can view staff guidelines, work schedules and special employee discounts.

The 2023 NACS Show took place Oct. 3-6 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. The 2024 NACS Show will be hosted at the Las Vegas Convention Center Oct. 7-10, 2024.