Published: November 3rd, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO – Most Canadians have entered a Mac’s Convenience store for some item they need immediately like milk or eggs or that chocolate bar to crush a sudden bit of hunger. And, most of those customer interactions are hardly memorable.

But Mac’s Convenience is trying to change the customer experience from less than memorable into an extraordinary one. Mac’s also wants to sell more chocolate bars throughout its more than 5,900 locations across Canada. And, there was one more goal; Mac’s wants to get to know millennials better.

Cisco worldwide channel chief Wendy Bahr said Mac’s was looking to gain a specific business outcome; to get young kids into their convenience stores and they wanted them to come back.

The company turned to not just one but two solution providers Sentia Solutions Inc. of Richmond Hill, Ont. and Turnstyle, a networking solution providers based in Toronto.

Sentia provides cloud based management solutions also through Meraki equipment along with security on the edge.

Turnstyle is a channel partner of Meraki and with Mac’s ran several 90-day pilot projects to gain cloud-based analytics from customers. Cadbury and Mac’s joined forces for these pilot projects.

How did they do this?

It involved a very low tech solution of putting a sign outside the store promoting free Wi-Fi. There was also a promotion. Use the Wi-Fi and you would get a free chocolate bar.

Turnstyle developed a cloud-based Wi-Fi marketing platform using Cisco Meraki access points. This solution provided Mac’s a map that could analyze and market to customers.

Turnstyle also included a social media option where people could opt in from Facebook or their smartphone.

“All of sudden Mac’s was getting geographic data and began pushing out more free coupons,” she said.

Turnstyle’s vice president of partnerships and business development, Ryan Freeman said Meraki equipment provided ease of management and reliability and when dealing with large volume of customers. Turnstyle retrofitted a select number of locations with Cisco Meraki APs. Meraki equipment is clonable, according to Freeman, and the rapid zero-touch provisioning providing Mac’s with a cloud-based Wi-Fi marketing analytics platform.

Six types of offers were distributed to consumers in these pilots. Logging on to the Wi-Fi network at Mac’s would reward visitors immediately and simultaneously serve as an opt-in to future communications with Mac’s new program. Subsequent visits by opted-in customers would be recognized by the Cisco Meraki APs and trigger Turnstyle’s marketing platform to deliver additional, personalized rewards and offers to customers’ mobile devices—all without the need for a mobile application.

The Facebook data alone saw 30 per cent of Mac’s customers came from that site. Some of them millennials. They also found out what kinds of chocolate bars people purchased.

More than 3,400 people logged into the Mac’s site.

This resulted in an 81 per cent increase in sign-ins over the prior 30-day period. More data started to flow in such as age of customer, gender, and visitor frequency. With this data, Mac’s could now tailor future marketing efforts to their primary audience.

“Now they got the outcome they wanted which was to have a customer relationship with millennials,” Bahr said.

Mac’s also found out that most of the coupons were redeemed within three days. This meant most customers were motivated to return for a wholly separate visit to retrieve their reward.

Altogether, customers returned to their local Mac’s 25 per cent more frequently than they had before the campaign.

Turnstyle estimated that if you assume an average purchase of $4, across all locations this channel has the potential to create millions of dollars in return for a relatively small investment in technology.

“It does not have to be complicated to produce an outcome, but it does need a multi-channel ecosystem,” Bahr added.