PDI is a well-known enterprise management software provider specializing in resource planning, fuel pricing, logistics, and marketing solutions for convenience retail, grocery, petroleum wholesale, and major oil industries. Recently, PDI announced the acquisition of ZipLine, a specialist in the ACH payment and mobile payment technology space. The addition bolsters PDI’s capabilities as brands search for solutions that not only support programmatic loyalty but enhance their entire customer experience strategies through digital payments, rewards, mobile, and brand strategy.
To learn more about the details and impacts of the company’s latest acquisition, Loyalty360 spoke to Brandon Logsdon, president and general manager of Marketing Cloud Solutions at PDI, about industry trends, where he sees the future of payments, the strategy behind the acquisition, and more.
Can you give us a brief introduction to your company?
PDI is a global software company serving downstream petroleum in convenience retail, and we go to market through four lines of business. We have an ERP line of business that includes our back-office, our pricebook, inventory and resource management, and other relative ERP applications.
Next, we have Logistics. Our solutions in this line of business create efficiency in the supply chain, particularly around product movement, transportation, and logistics services
Our final two lines of business are the ones I’m responsible for — the first being our Fuel Pricing line of business, which focuses on B2C and B2B pricing optimization that helps our customers maximize profit and volume.
The last line of business is the one we’ll talk about today, which is our Marketing Cloud Solutions line of business. That line of business focuses on loyalty, CRM, insights, offers, and now payments.
Can you tell us a bit about your role in the organization?
I joined PDI in April of 2018. I was previously the CEO of a company called Excentus, and at the time, we were the first adjacent acquisition PDI made. Before 2018, PDI was predominantly an ERP business, having made a few acquisitions to bolster its ERP business globally and enter the logistics market. PDI entered the marketing and loyalty business with its acquisition of Excentus. Since then, we rebranded to Marketing Cloud Solutions, and we’ve made four more acquisitions underneath that line of business, in addition to significant internal investment.
My role is to lead our Marketing Cloud Solutions and Fuel Pricing lines of business. We see a lot of synergy between those solutions, and how our customers—whether they’re petroleum wholesalers, major oils, or convenience retailers—use them to drive growth and effectively use data to target consumers and maximize returns.
What have you seen, or what are you seeing regarding the convergence of payments, customer experience, and customer loyalty, and how should we be looking at that?
The convergence is necessary. Previously, if you were a retailer who wanted to combine digital payments and customer loyalty into a cohesive customer experience, you typically had to source a minimum of two, but sometimes, three or more vendors. Then, you attempted to cobble together a cohesive solution from disparate technologies.
What we see from the market is an opportunity to bring more of those solutions that drive payments, customer experience, and customer loyalty in-house. PDI can then deliver a seamless experience with a single provider that benefits both the retailer and the consumer.
That’s always the endgame with these solutions. In the end, they should pay for themselves by being able to identify what consumers want, what they’re buying, and how you can use that data and information to drive profitable behavior changes through loyalty.
Earlier this year, we acquired a company called SwiftIQ out of Chicago, which we rebranded as PDI Insights Cloud. That acquisition is significant to our strategy in the loyalty, payments, and CX, equation because it enables us to look at pre- and post-behavior trends. Its AI capabilities can predict the next best offers as well as measure general promotional efficiency and effectiveness for retailers and consumer-packaged goods companies.
The punchline, ultimately, is that I think any solution provider that’s in loyalty should be looking at a cohesive payment strategy. Any payments provider should be thinking about a cohesive loyalty strategy because I genuinely believe they go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Can you tell us more about PDI’s acquisition of ZipLine as well as provide a brief introduction to ZipLine and its capabilities? Additionally, what’s the strategy behind the acquisition and roll-out of added benefits?
The acquisition of ZipLine was a long time coming for us. Even before COVID, we had this vision to bring payments and loyalty together. However, the buying behaviors exhibited by consumers during the pandemic only heightened our desire to combine loyalty and payment.
Today, ZipLine is primarily known in the industry as the company that has enabled ACH as a tender type within the convenience retail channel. While this will continue to be an essential service we provide, we also see a lot of opportunity in ZipLine’s broader capabilities, particularly around mobile payments.
This goes back to my earlier point. Before PDI acquired ZipLine, a retailer who wanted to do loyalty, an ACH program, and mobile payments would have needed several vendors to pull it off. Now, we can consolidate that entire tech stack into our Marketing Cloud Platform. That gives the customer one point of contact, plus a great customer engagement strategy, CRM capabilities, and insights reporting for every part of the operation.
Lastly, I think our order-ahead, self-checkout, and delivery enablement strategy positions us as more than just a loyalty marketing company focused on personalized experiences. Now, we can go a step further as loyalty marketing and digital commerce company that’s not only focused on personalization, but also on delivering differentiated experiences.
What is coming up on your roadmap, and what is that strategy?
Our strategy right now focuses on bringing it all together. In bringing it all together, we’re seamlessly connecting the assets already in our quiver. So, we’re taking things like Insights Cloud, plus our loyalty platform, plus some of our management portals and making sure there’s strong cohesion through things like single sign-on and integrated dashboards.
The other part of bringing it all together involves some of the crosslines of business within PDI. For example, our team is working on multiple fronts to make sure we have end-to-end visibility and data accessibility between components in our ERP and Marketing Cloud solutions. That will enable our customers to harness the full value PDI is offering.
A lot of retailers rely on our solutions to help run their businesses. As an industry leader, we have a responsibility to continue to serve the market effectively. So, we’re keenly focused on this roadmap to make sure that we deliver on our commitments and create something for our customers that is highly differentiated and gives them a strategic advantage.