In the US, the Fuel Rewards programme has revamped its nationwide loyalty programme with card-linked offers (CLOs) that enable participating merchants to offer Fuel Rewards savings to their customers with no investment in infrastructure or technology. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

Merchants who join this new coalition loyalty-based CLO programme also gain access to millions of Fuel Rewards members across the US, insightful marketing data about customers' preferences and activities, and the powerful backing of a national coalition of merchants focused on increased sales and deeper brand loyalty.

Consumers, meanwhile, gain the freedom to use any debit or credit card to earn merchant-funded Fuel Rewards savings from their favorite retailers and brands without losing existing benefits or rewards provided by the card issuers.

The programme's new coalition loyalty-based card-linked offers platform is built for today's evolving marketplace, where rewards can be earned and tracked from physical, digital and mobile purchases and transactions, without the need for an additional rewards card in consumers' wallets, Logsdon notes.

Consumers have long asked for loyalty programmes that have frequent earn-burn cycles and valuable, cumulative rewards from everyday purchases from their favorite brands. A 2014 Technology Advice survey found that 82% of customers are more likely to shop at stores that have loyalty programmes.

The Fuel Rewards programme's updated approach to coalition loyalty breaks the single-card/single-retailer framework of traditional card-linked marketing. It enables consumers to accumulate rewards from thousands of participating merchants and brands, and simultaneously save on fuel each time they make a purchase with a debit or credit card linked to the programme. Consumers' rewards are redeemed as fuel savings at more than 12,000 Shell stations nationwide.

In less than three years, Fuel Rewards members have saved over US$500 million on fuel at an average of 25 cents per gallon. Fuel Rewards programme data demonstrates that merchants participating in a card-linked offer have experienced on average 10% increases in spending and 5% increases in transaction frequency.

Fuel Rewards members can earn rewards from brick-and-mortar retailers, a national network of more than 11,000 participating restaurants and 700 online merchants, including Homedepot.com, Kohls.com, Sears.com and more. Many Shell convenience stores also offer rewards on specially-marked items, including gift cards from major retailers.

As soon as consumers link an existing credit or debit card to the Fuel Rewards programme, participating merchants earn a greater stake in direct brand loyalty with their customers by leveraging the power of cents-per-gallon savings at the pump:

  • Merchants instantly gain the ability to offer Fuel Rewards savings to their customers, receive access to the coalition customer base, and benefit from spill over coalition visibility and near real-time access to customer data streams.
  • Consumers can also use the Fuel Rewards programme's new mobile app to find participating merchants and nearby fuel stations, track and manage rewards, manage linked credit and debit cards, and receive offers and localised promotions via push notifications and in-app messages.
  • Members who use a linked card at a participating merchant are notified instantly that the purchase qualifies for Fuel Rewards savings; the cents-per-gallon savings on fuel can be redeemed at Shell within days, instead of weeks or months.

The Fuel Rewards programme tested the coalition loyalty-based card-linked offers through a 2014-2015 Winter Shopping promotion involving three major brands (JCPenney, Toys'R'Us and Olive Garden). Based on that trial's success, the programme is now launching the platform that provides card-linked offers across many other retail categories.