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Statistics show that an average convenience store selling fuel has around 1,100 customers per day, or more than 400,000 per year, according to CStoreDecisions.com. Add it all up, and the U.S. convenience store industry alone serves nearly 165 million customers per day, and 58 billion transactions every year.
But for David VanWiggeren, CEO of Drop Tank, he believes that each of those transactions is a possibility for developing relationships between a consumer and a brand.
“It’s about meaningful relationships,” VanWiggeren told Mark Johnson from Loyalty360 during a Loyalty Live video interview. Drop Tank specializes in gas station loyalty technology and loyalty solutions, but they focus on a select group of merchants.
“We are not for everyone,” VanWiggeren says. “Mainly, we want to work with companies who are looking at re-inventing their loyalty solutions to be better and more efficient. Doing it right is only getting more complex. It’s those companies that recognize that they can’t be experts at their core business and at the same time deliver leading digital engagement in a wicked, smart way.”
VanWiggeren will tell you that from experience, having been responsible for payment and loyalty at BP for many years. He founded Drop Tank in 2012 on a mission to tap into the myriad point-of-sale systems used by the diverse companies that own and operate gas stations across the U.S. to offer fuel rewards programs on a national level.
Cloud-Based, Third-Party Loyalty Programs
And Drop Tank’s loyalty programs go beyond the gas station, partnering with other major third-party loyalty programs, such as Southwest Rapid Rewards and Wyndham Rewards. Drop Tank uses Oracle Cloud Infrastructure and Oracle Autonomous Database to build fuel rewards programs, linking U.S. gas stations owned and operated by scores of independent regional businesses.
And that number of independent, regional fuel retailers has been growing. Since the beginning of 2019, in-network gas stations have grown from 3,500 locations to over 5,500 at Drop Tank. Moreover, transactions have more than tripled.
“You can think of things cynically like, ‘oh well, it’s all about the money,’ but I would argue that those relationships have value beyond just the transactional nature,” VanWiggeren told Johnson during the interview.
He says a great example is that during Covid-19, brands that have built powerful, trusted relationships with their customers through digital engagement channels have found value in being able to communicate key customer messages through those channels.
“These customers have come to know the brand and they get a sense of the type of people who are running the show at that brand,” VanWiggeren says. “They see the values of the brand, and when you can start to expose that type of thing to customers and provide opportunities for customers to see who you really are as a brand, that’s a long-term differentiator.”
65% of Convenience Stores are Independent
Drop Tank’s loyalty solutions are simple to operate, low-cost and highly effective, which VanWiggeren tells Johnson is perfect for large dealer networks.
“Our POS integrations deliver full loyalty and data capability without the need for additional hardware at sites,” he says, adding that over 65% of convenience stores are independent operators where limited, if any, purchase data is available in a standardized, usable format. “Our products solve this problem, helping our partners dig deeper to derive insights despite all the fragmentation in the industry. Those capabilities have value for any industry.”
Drop Tank’s solutions are certified with many different POS systems and they’re known for leveraging software and services from Oracle, Atlassian and Slack, along with Scrum Methodology, to deliver complex projects quickly and accurately.
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