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Convenience stores, known for long hours, availability of a wide variety of basic necessities, and for relatively high prices for those basics, are looking to leverage loyalty to make them the convenience store of choice.

The 7-Eleven chain, which bills itself as the world's largest convenience store chain, is looking to build loyalty on the popularity of football this fall with stadium-style souvenir cups and helmet team straws, a promotion the chain has run before. What is new in 2018 is the addition of augmented reality, according to a report in Convenience Store Decisions.

Participating stores allow customers to use the 7-11 mobile app provides customers with football filters, activities and other promotions throughout the season. The mobile app is also the engine for 7-Eleven's 7Rewards loyalty program, which enables customers in the 15 participating markets to earn rewards by using augmented reality to play games and to share football filters. Among the ways customers can earn 7Rewards points is to play football-centric augmented reality games to earn daily points and take a selfie and share team spirit to earn weekly points. In Baltimore, Dallas, Denver, Detroit and Washington, some games and filters will be team specific, the other markets will have non-team specific football filters.

Customers can also use the augmented reality feature to take a selfie with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.

Smaller convenience stores also see value in driving loyalty in an effort to chip away at some of the competitive edge of the larger chains, which offer more locations and better brand awareness.

Yesway, a convenience chain with 150 locations, is finding that Paytronix loyalty program is providing significant benefits in terms of customer store visits. According to a recent article in Chain Store Age, nearly half (45.2 percent) of loyalty members have entered the store after buying gasoline, and 44 percent of loyalty members have visited a Yesway location over a two-month period have redeemed a reward.

The convenience store operation, which expect to expand its brand to an additional 350 locations over the next few years, credits the Paytronix program for helping provide the data needed to understand the loyalty offers that help drive business.

Thorntons, another Paytronix customer is hoping to boost is loyalty program by adding Koupon's mobile consumer packaged goods funded offers.

James Meara, Thornton senior manager of loyalty, said in a Chain Store News article that the combination of Koupon and Paytronix capabilities would help the 192-location convenience store chain to boost program member acquisition while also providing value to program participants.

"Marketers need to focus on understanding their customers - where are they coming from? What are they buying? What compels a visit to the pump and a visit to the store? That insight includes bringing an unknown person to a known person," Joel Fotenot, Koupon executive chairman, told Chain Store news. "Connecting Koupon with Paytronix is a step toward solving that challenge for retailers.

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