By Aimee Chanthadavong

A new rewards program is being launched in November in an aim to help level the playing field of the fuel discount war, which has got the consumer watchdog and a number of retail organisations raging.

Marketing technology company iMobileMedia is introducing FuelCents rewards program that will allow any retailer or brand to offer fuel discounts to consumers on selected purchases via a mobile app called ScanZap. All consumers need to do is ‘zap’ the sale receipt to collect the discount, eliminating the need for paper coupons or loyalty cards. Offers can be redeemed at any participating petrol outlet in Australia.

Rob Keogh, chief technology officer at iMobileMedia, said this will give leverage to independent retailers who are trying to compete with Coles and Woolworths on fuel discount and dilute any imbalance.

“The combined trade from the two million businesses of the independent groups, together with their suppliers and five million staff, means independent businesses have an equal, if not wider capability to leverage fuel rewards to engage customer loyalty,” he said.

There is no limit on the FuelCents that can be redeemed in one transaction, which means motorists could be redeeming 20, 40 or 60 cents per litre on fuel purchases at any petrol outlet based on how much FuelCents they collect.

iMobileMedia is aiming to engage 100,000 shoppers, ideally starting with household staples like bread, milk and coffee, before expanding across motoring products like tyres, insurance or car servicing. Keogh stresses that any brand or business, including service businesses, can participate.
“Whether you’re a mechanic in Maitland, a pharmacy in Devonport or a pie shop in Perth, FuelCents is now a simple and cost-efficient way to directly engage and reward your customers,” Keogh said.
During the launch phase of FuelCents, iMobileMedia is offering more than $2.5 million in subsidised rewards to get businesses, suppliers, brand manufacturers and retailers on board.

The impact on competition of fuel discounts as an exclusive practice has lately been under the spotlight at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and has faced scrutiny by the Independent Retailers of Australia.

“It would be my hope for this app to level the playing field,” Roger Gillespie, Australian Retailer Association president and Bakers Delight CEO, said.
“Whether it will, time will tell. If it is as good as it appears and it’s used with some common sense then it will bring fairness back into the retail fuel market. If it can’t deliver what the fuel market needs then we’ll just be back to square one.”

iMobileMedia is also currently in development of a dedicated fuel rewards app with features for motorists, such as an expense log book, local motoring services and suppliers and maps that identify the cheapest fuel in the area. FuelZap is planned for launch in February 2014.