In the US, the Fuel Rewards coalition loyalty programme (operated by Excentus) has launched a mobile app that extends the programme's reach for its 5 million members by allowing them to link their loyalty, credit, debit and prepaid cards to their smartphones to make it easier to earn rewards for everyday purchases. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

Mobile apps play a critical role in retailers' business viability and consumers' everyday activities, according to recent statistics from GlobalWebIndex showing that 80% of Americans own a smartphone, and figures from Gartner predicting that half of all US commerce will be conducted on mobile devices by 2017.

"We wanted a stronger mobile focus in response to our member data showing that 60% of all email communications are being opened on a smartphone, and more than 50% of our programme website views are taking place on a mobile device," explained Scott Schaper, EVP of Marketing for Fuel Rewards. "We designed this programme and its currency to affect members' everyday lives positively, and our mobile app was built with that same focus - to add more value, utility, and ways for our members to earn and save."

The Fuel Rewards programme developed the app at a time when consumers are demanding "mobile first" interactions with brands and businesses. The app was created in conjunction with Bottle Rocket, an app developer, and Vibes, a mobile marketing firm, to address rapidly changing consumer needs and mobile commerce opportunities.

"Marketers are faced with more change and challenges than ever before and loyalty is at the heart of the marketer's dilemma. With the launch of this new app, Fuel Rewards can leverage their expertise in loyalty in a new way for a whole new generation of consumers," said Calvin Carter, CEO for Bottle Rocket.

From the app, members can quickly and easily join the programme, link credit/debit payment cards to their account, track their rewards and redemptions, and use geo-location features and maps to identify nearby participating merchants, affiliated programmes, Shell stations and MasterCard limited-time offers.

The Fuel Rewards mobile application also serves as a new customer acquisition and engagement tool for the programme and its participating brands, enabling them to keep members informed through text messages and push notifications, in-app alerts, geo-targeted offers, and other personalised communications that reinforce buying behaviours and inspire loyalty.

These capabilities will be complemented by the May 2015 roll-out of the company's card-linked offer (CLO) programme, which allows members to link any debit or credit card to the loyalty programme in order to earn rewards from participating retailers and merchants across the country.

From launch until 31st May 2015, members can use their linked MasterCards to earn rewards at participating sporting goods and home and garden retailers across the US. MasterCard-related offers change seasonally, giving members a variety of ways to save throughout the year using their linked cards.

Additional features of the app include:

  • Credit/debit card linking to their Fuel Rewards account;
  • Intuitive navigation and location-aware technology, enabling members to view nearby offers by merchant or category, and find nearby Shell stations;
  • Real-time tracking of rewards balances;
  • Personalised 'pump price' displays;
  • Option to receive location-aware, time-sensitive push notifications, alerts and reminders on mobile devices about promotions from the Fuel Rewards programme, Shell or affiliated programmes and partners;
  • An in-app travel portal, powered by Priceline, allowing members to earn Fuel Rewards savings when booking hotels and rental cars (and airfares will also be included in an upcoming release).

Well-known retail participants include Winn-Dixie, BI-LO, Caesars Entertainment, and Priceline among others, while participating online retailers include Staples, Kohl's, Best Buy and Macy's, as well as an extensive restaurant network. In addition to rewards redemption, consumers can also earn rewards through participating Shell convenience store offers. The Fuel Rewards app is available for both iPhone and Android devices.

The Fuel Rewards programme uses cents-per-gallon fuel savings as the ultimate consumer reward for everyday purchases made by members every time they shop at more than 10,000 restaurants, more than 1,400 retail locations nationwide, and nearly 700 online merchants that belong to the programme. By the beginning of 2015, the programme's members had saved more than US$500 million on fuel since the programme's launch in 2012. Rewards can be redeemed for the programme at nearly 12,000 participating Shell and other select fuel stations across the country. Fuel Rewards members can always save a minimum of 3 cents per gallon on up to 20 gallons every time they fill up at participating Shell stations.