From today (23 July), Shell customers at “hundreds” of its petrol stations will be able to pay using their mobile phone and PayPal account. The “Fill up and go” service, an add-on in Shell’s mobile app, means customers will be able to pay for fuel without leaving their car (see video).
The plan is to make the service available in half of Shell’s estate within the next two weeks and then to move it to “the majority” of UK forecourts by the end of the year.
Speaking to Marketing Week, Shell’s retail marketing manager Michael Hominick said the service provides an answer to a real-life problem – that it “can be a chore to fill up”.
“People told us that there are two big problems in filling up with fuel – having to wait to long to get to the pump and then having to wait to pay. This answers both those problems and should cut down the time between drivers entering and leaving our sites,” he said.
In the trial, which ran at 22 sites nationwide and was available to its loyalty members only, the company found that there were three particular use cases for the service – parents, commuters and people who drive for a living.
Currently around half of Shell’s customers are on a “fuel-only mission” said Hominick, while the rest are also there to purchase other goods either in its own shops or the Little Waitrose that are at some of its forecourts.
Hominick said he was not worried about fewer customers buying other products because the new service should make it easier for people that just want to use the shop by freeing up space. He hopes that those that use the app will have a more positive view of Shell and be “more inclined to come back”.
The service also offers further opportunities for Shell to upsell its loyalty scheme and offer people deals and promotions through the app. The app is already set up so that members of its loyalty scheme that buy fuel using the fill up and go service will have their points automatically added to their account.
Both Shell and PayPal will be promoting the scheme through direct marketing, while Shell will also launch a campaign, created by Iris, on Monday (27 July) to promote it to a wider audience. This will involve out-of-home and digital activity that aims to highlight the emotional appeal of the service and Shell’s “keep Britain moving” ethos.
It will also employ brand ambassadors at motoring events to explain the offering.
Taking mobile payments mass scale
Shell said it chose PayPal because of its ubiquity – it is available on Android, iPhone and Windows Phone devices – and because PayPal is a known for being a “safe, reliable” brand.
The focus is very much on mobile payments at the moment following the launch of Apple’s offering Apple Pay earlier this month and the fact that PayPal split from eBay on Monday (20 July) to form a standalone business.
Rob Harper, director of mobile commerce at PayPal, said almost a quarter of its business now comes from mobile devices but admits that mobile payments are yet to reach a tipping point. He said this is in part because there has at times been “innovation for innovation’s sake”, rather than to solve a real-life problem.
The solution with Shell, however, is based on a deep insight that “refilling can at times be a pain” and aims to solve that by removing the pain points.