For Shell Gas Stations, GM Connected Car Partnership Also Connects Loyalty And Convenience

We're constantly striving to simplify the customer experience as consumers interact with the Shell brand," says Shell Retail's Albert Rivas. "The GM partnership was a way to bring that to life. It's just another step in our evolution."

As on-demand apps have become mainstream, the expectations that consumers have from loyalty/rewards programs have changed dramatically. Aside from the traditional discounts associated with being a “regular,” the main value loyalty program members expect is ease and convenience.

That’s at the heart of the collaboration rolled out last week between General Motors and Shell. The program is centered on GM’s expanded Connected Car program, dubbed GM Marketplace.

General Motors Marketplace featuring Shell’s in-dash app.

Drivers of GM Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac models with the GM Marketplace “in-dash” apps system who pull into Shell gas stations to fill up will be able to use Shell Pay & Save. In addition to paying for their gas directly from their vehicles’ infotainment screen, “and earn and redeem valuable Fuel Rewards savings in the process.”

We checked in with Albert Rivas, head of North American Marketing Technology for Shell Retail, for more details on how the brand is positioning for the mainstreaming of the Connected Car and the impact on customer loyalty.

GeoMarketing: Is this the first in-dash, app-based or contactless pay program Shell has initiated with an automaker?

Albert Rivas: In early 2017, Shell launched the world’s first tethered in-car payment system with Jaguar Land Rover in the United Kingdom, allowing drivers of eligible vehicles, with a tethered mobile device, to pay for fuel via their car’s touchscreen at Shell service stations in the UK.

Shell’s offering with GM is the automotive industry’s first embedded in-dash fuel payment and savings experience, meaning customers driving eligible vehicles have the ability to pay for fuel from the infotainment system of their vehicle at participating Shell branded stations without having to swipe a credit card or use a mobile device.

What does partnership mean for this moment in time in terms of the way Shell services its customers?

We’re constantly striving to simplify the customer experience as consumers interact with the Shell brand. The GM partnership was a way to bring that to life. It’s just another step in our evolution.

At the same time, we think that if we can improve and make the customer experience more seamless at Shell, that can help drive loyalty for us.

How has the Fuel Rewards loyalty program evolved and how does this alliance with GM advance that evolution?

The GM partnership represents another way to make that customer experience better and make that loyalty experience more seamless.

For example, let’s say you’re not in one of the GM vehicles, but you wish to participate in that loyalty program. You essentially have to either carry a loyalty card separate from your payment card or you have to actually interact and insert into, you can type in your what we call “alt ID,” or “alternative ID,” which is your phone number.

Through a GM Connected Car, all of that’s taken care of for you in the embedded in-dash experience where we link the payment and the loyalty piece seamless for the customer once you sign up. It’s literally just a few clicks of buttons. You don’t have to worry about carrying your payment card. You don’t have to worry about carrying your loyalty card, and so it’s actually a very efficient and effective way to interact from the confines of your vehicle and, of course, you physically have to get out and pump the gas, but again, it starts simplifying the experience quite a bit for our customers.

Are there any other benefits of the GM in-dash Shell app connection for customers?

The GM embedded in-dash app is not dependent on using a phone. Within that app on the dashboard, you can see your location. You can see amenities at the locations, your nearest location, etc. What we’ve heard from consumers is they do like doing that from inside their vehicle. It is much more convenient to your points a little bit faster, but it’s more seamless. And I think from our standpoint, because we want to reward consumers for every interaction they have with our brand.

Do you expect to initiate similar programs with other automakers in the near future?

Shell prides itself on being a business that is constantly re-inventing itself at every level to service our customers and society better. We collaborate and look for opportunities to work with others to deliver the products and services that modern consumers need to make life’s journeys better.

How did you decide to work with GM on this program?

As two companies at the leading edge of innovation, and with a shared commitment to providing an exceptional customer experience, it makes sense for Shell and GM to work together.

What’s your view of the Connected Car and technologies like voice activation via “smart devices” like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant in terms of their ability to engage Shell customers? Is it still emerging or do you view these tools as mainstream at this point?

Our take is we think Connected Car is here to stay. We think it’s growing. It’s certainly in its infancy in terms of consumer adoption. But we want to be the leader always in innovation and be where our consumers are.

As I’ve mentioned we’re constantly looking at how simplify our customer experience. So if there’s a way out there to do that, especially technology driven like the Connected Car, we want to leverage that point.

How do you view this GM alliance? Is it an experiment or do you view this as a scalable and meaningful program?

In terms of this specific partnership with GM, we believe it’s a great partnership for our customers across North America. It is scalable. We’re very proud of the partnership that we can bring with GM and we look forward to offering that technology and experience to other customers, as well. We think that it will grow from its infancy, from where it is today. Stay tuned for more.

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David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.