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Piggly Wiggly Adds Fuel Buys to Rewards, Rolls Out Touch Payments

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Piggly Wiggly supermarkets in Ladson and Greenwood, S.C. have added fuel to their marketing programs by connecting the IBM controller and POS system inside the stores with the fuel pumps outside.

The program, supplied by Excentus Corp., a provider of fuel site marketing, technology and integration services, enables consumers to earn points for their gasoline purchases and select rewards using various redemption options.

"It's one-stop shopping," said Mike Hawkins, retail technical operations manager of Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co. "With fuel prices today, you can accumulate points quickly."

Here's how the program works: At both stores, shoppers first scan their PFC Card (Pig's Favorite Customer) at the Pig Fuel Express and find out how many points are in their account. They can cash in some or all of their points for fuel, or buy gas normally and accumulate more points, called Greenbax.

"The main reason we got into fuel was to add more value to our existing loyalty card," said Hawkins. "We’ve done that with the ability to issue and redeem Greenbax at the pump and the ability to use our loyalty card to pre-pay for fuel inside the store. We have found that Greenbax at the pump generate a lot of excitement."

In addition to fuel, purchasing any item in the supermarket also adds points to the customer's account.

Total sales at the supermarket in Ladson have increased since the Excentus interface was installed, according to Hawkins. In-store signage and announcements, as well as circular ads and promotions at the pump, have contributed to the program’s initial success.

In other Piggly Wiggly news, following a positive consumer response to the biometric technology pilot with Pay-By Touch, the retailer plans to rollout the system to all corporate-owned stores by May 2005.

Since July 2004, Piggly Wiggly customers in four South Carolina grocery stores have been using Pay By Touch to purchase groceries using a finger scan linked to their financial accounts. Customer research revealed that 50 percent of Piggly Wiggly's Pay By Touch users are driven by the convenience of not having to present cards, checks, or their PFC/Greenbax rewards cards at the point of sale. And, when asked how Piggly Wiggly could improve its Pay By Touch offering, users wanted to see Pay By Touch in more stores.

"Our customers embraced Pay By Touch during the pilot period because it is an easier and safer way to pay," said Rich Farrell, vice president of information services at Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co. "After only five months in our Charleston, South Carolina locations, more Piggly Wiggly customers are using Pay By Touch Express Checking (ACH) than any one of the credit card products we accept. We listen to our shoppers, and Pay By Touch is what they want."

Pay By Touch presented Piggly Wiggly shoppers with an Express Checking (ACH), a new type of transaction that was introduced during the pilot. Express Checking is a direct electronic withdrawal from shoppers' bank accounts. Express Checking is convenient for shoppers, and helps Piggly Wiggly reduce costs associated with transaction fees. Express Checking will be the featured way to pay during the company-wide rollout.
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