Some customer experiences are more appealing than others, but pizza for breakfast? Art Sebastian suggests you should keep an open mind.
Speaking during a session at software giant SAP’s Sapphire 2022 event that was broadcast Wednesday, the vice-president of digital experiences at Casey’s said there are a surprising number of people who start their day with a slice.
“Look, I can I can promise you breakfast pizza is a real thing. We call it ‘bizza,” Sebastian said. “And for those that haven’t been in the Midwest to experience it, you can visit one of our almost 2,500 stores and try bizza. If you happen to be in the Des Moines Iowa area, bizza is on me.”
To some extent, though, the work Sebastian and his team have done ensures that the customer experience Casey’s provides isn’t limited to the moment someone enters one of its convenience locations.
This includes the rollout of an enhanced e-commerce experience and a mobile app that now accounts for 65 per cent of Casey’s digital revenue. Using SAP’s Commerce Cloud and Customer Data Cloud tools, Sebastian explained how the system has grown revenue in part because it was designed to automatically suggest cross-sell opportunities during every order.
From an employee experience perspective, meanwhile, any of the customer-facing digital experiences Sebastian’s team has developed — including the mobile app, which has achieved more than three million downloads — are fully integrated with it’s kitchen order management system.
Unlike many other quick service restaurant (QSR) firms and convenience chains, however, it’s worth noting that Casey’s digital transformation began long before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted everyday consumer experiences.
“Back in 2018 we were celebrating 50 years of existence — and we had a lot to celebrate,” Sebastian recalled. “We had surpassed 2,000 stores we were having great success. We leaned into investments like our own supply chain and distribution center. And we put kitchens in all of our stores.”
At the same time, Casey’s leadership team wanted to think about the next 50 years, Sebastian said, and what it would take for its success to continue.
“We said, ‘We’ve got to modernize this brand.’ And that means the way our stores look the way our stores are merchandised and the way our brand visual identity shows up,” he said.
Sebastian credited SAP for the capabilities of its products, but also its team’s approach to looking for new opportunities and the kinds of journeys consumers could take with the brand.
“We’ve got this unique business selling groceries selling prepared foods that kind of mirror a QSR or restaurant experience, and SAP helped us think through how to customize our experience to meet the needs of our business,” he said.
The mobile app now lets customers place pickup and delivery orders, find a store, track orders and includes a “create your own pizza” tool. Casey’s also worked with SAP and consulting firm Deloitte to launch its first digital loyalty program, Casey’s Rewards, which uses SAP’s CDP to organize buyer preferences and consent information.
While there were challenges associated with bringing off myriad CX improvements at once, Sebastian said the key was being mindful of how disparate stakeholders contributed to the overall vision.
“I think everybody on the team has a role, whether you’re in QA or you’re in architecture, an engineer or a marketer helping run the business,” he said. “I think changing culture has probably been the most fun I’ve had. I think it requires leadership and what I mean by that is listening before you speak, having empathy and understanding what others on the team are thinking as you lay the vision out.”
SAP head of Customer Success Scott Russell said Casey’s demonstrated impressive forward momentum during a period where many other organizations were struggling to keep moving at all.
“They moved from a conversation with their customers that was one way into a bi-directional, multi-directional, multifaceted engagement that used our commerce platform to orchestrate the experience in a wonderful way, no matter what the touch point,” he said. “It wasn’t this one big success. It was a number of moments solving a challenge and addressing an issue.”
Sebastian agreed. “I think first and foremost, we’re very proud and humbled by the growth that we’ve seen,” he said, “specifically over the last two years operating an essential business and staying true to our purpose of serving our guests and communities.”
Shane Schick tells stories that help people innovate, and to manage the change innovation brings. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and Yahoo Canada and is the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.