- Southeastern Grocers Inc. launched a new loyalty program with rewards for food purchases that can be used at the pump, according to a news release. The new SE Grocers Rewards program enables customers at Bi-Lo, Winn-Dixie, Harveys Supermarket and Fresco y Más stores to earn points that can be redeemed for money off on groceries or fuel at participating Shell-branded gas stations. Customers can also use bonus points on hundreds of grocery products and find additional ways to earn points on their receipts.
- SE Grocers Rewards replaces the company's traditional loyalty program, Plenti, which rolled out in April 2017, but ended July 10. Any unused points were rolled over to the new rewards program.
- To kick off the new program, Southeastern Grocers and Shell are offering the first 100 customers at select Shell stations up to $40 per vehicle of free gas. Customers can get updates on free fuel events in the Southeast by visiting the Bi-Lo, Winn-Dixie, Harveys and Fresco y Más Facebook pages throughout July.
The latest rewards program signals that the Jacksonville, Florida-based Southeastern Grocers is looking for new ways to boost its bottom line after its recent emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late May. And the move may be a smart one with fuel savings sitting at the top of preferred currency for loyalty programs, according to data from Excentus-Ipsos.
According to the report, no specialty or reward program has seen as much participation growth as fuel savings, where it has risen 10% in the last two years. Gasoline deals even trumps cash back on credit cards, with 39% valuing fuel to 35% preferring money.
Other grocers offering similar programs include Hy-Vee, Giant, Stop & Shop, Albertsons, Safeway and Schnucks. Many others offer discounts on gas as part of their loyalty programs, such as Kroger and Hannaford Bros., and warehouse clubs like Costco, Sam's and BJ's discount gas for members. Many consumers say they will go out of their way to shop at a store that offers gas rewards. Still, with such a crowded market, it will be interesting to see whether SE Grocers Rewards is enough to turn the tide for the grocery chain.
Executives remain hopeful. “We are committed to providing a loyalty program for our customers and associates that will best meet their everyday needs,” Southeastern Grocers President and CEO Anthony Hucker said in a statement. “We have listened loudly to our customers about all of the things they value with our current rewards program and how we can make our next loyalty program even better.”
That could explain why the grocer so quickly ended the Plenti program, which instead offered benefits at a number of participating stores. The rise in fuel costs could make also Southeastern Grocers’ new loyalty program especially attractive today. Whether this is enough for the regional shop to stave off competition from the likes of Walmart or Publix remains to be seen.