DES MOINES, Iowa — The pace of change never slows down, and retail executives need to leverage technology to innovate new solutions that will accommodate the needs and wants of consumers.
RIS’ annual Pacesetters report, which awards retail executives pioneering ground-breaking solutions across retail verticals, honors a group of fast-rising retail directors leading their fields today, including one convenience store executive.
Yesway Loyalty Manager Michael Caldwell is one such executive who is being lauded specifically for the growth and success of Yesway Rewards.
"The nature of the program is basic — customers swipe their card or scan their app when purchasing merchandise or gas at any of our stores and earn points that can be redeemed for free items. The 'guts' of the program, however, are quite complex," he told RIS, a sister publication of Convenience Store News.
Caldwell works with loyalty program vendor Paytronix to harvest data insights almost daily to learn about Yesway Rewards members and implement artificial intelligence (AI)-driven, one-to-one campaigns targeting specific segments of its member base.
One continuous one-to-one campaign produced an increase in spend of around 9 percent when compared to a control group. When a secondary level of AI was implemented to the campaign, which made the reward more relevant to each customer, the spend lift was boosted to more than 28 percent, Caldwell shared.
Using data to develop highly targeted offers has resulted in measurable increases in customer visits and sales.
"This engagement has helped us create and refine a loyalty program that is simple to use, highly engaging, and provides a tremendous amount of value to our customers, which, in turn, increases their loyalty to Yesway and keeps them coming back to our stores," Caldwell said.
Caldwell is currently working on multiple technology-driven programs for Yesway, including:
- The launch of Yespay, a mobile wallet access through the Yesway Rewards app, later this year.
- An online ordering and curbside pickup app and a website are expected to be piloted this fall with a full rollout to more locations at the start of 2021.
- Allsup’s, which Yesway acquired in November, will have its first loyalty program unveiled this fall. Caldwell and his team are in the process of upgrading all 304 Allsup’s stores with PDI, which will serve as the technological backbone for the newly created loyalty program.
Caldwell has one piece of advice for others in the industry: "The best advice I can give is to become an Excel nerd and learn to embrace, love and use data."
Based in Des Moines, Yesway is the operating retail arm of BW Gas & Conveniences Holdings LLC. Its portfolio consists of 415 c-stores in Iowa, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
Convenience Store News and RIS are properties of EnsembleIQ.