Mobile app development has become one of the top priorities for convenience store retailers this year as the industry aims to boost loyalty participation and better serve customers.
Retailers such as Casey’s General Stores, Circle K, Nouria Energy, Parker’s and GPM Investments have all updated their apps in recent months, while Arko and Dash In launched their apps for the first time.
It’s clear that if retailers don’t have a mobile app in 2023, they’re behind schedule. But what makes customers want to download — and keep using — these apps?
C-Store Dive compiled the average ratings from the Apple App Store for 34 leading convenience retailers with at least 100 ratings, noting both positive and negative customer reviews for each brand.
Here’s what the users of eight of these brands’ apps — four with a rating above 4.6, and four with a rating below 3 — had to say about their experiences.
Kum & Go – 2.0/5
With an average score of 2.0 out of 5, Kum & Go’s mobile app is the lowest-rated c-store app with at least 100 customer reviews in the Apple App Store. Well over half of its ratings are one-star reviews.
Kum & Go launched its mobile app and rewards program on Aug. 1. At the time, the retailer said the update would allow members to earn more points for every purchase, trade in their points for fuel discounts and in-store &Rewards cash, and earn exclusive discounts and offers.
For existing members, Kum & Go said current rewards would carry over from the old app to the new one and that their points balance would double.
However, that doesn’t seem to be the case, as several reviews noted that their accounts from the previous app have not carried over.
Of the 80 reviews Kum & Go’s app has received in the app store since Aug. 1, 68 of them gave one-star ratings.
Other reviews note that Kum & Go’s new app simply doesn’t work, while others say it freezes, doesn’t load or prevents members from logging in entirely. Additionally, members note troubles with adding their payment methods, and the app mistaking or not knowing when points are eligible to be used.
RaceTrac – 2.5/5
RaceTrac launched its rewards app in early 2016. Seven years in, most customers using the app via their iPhones remain dissatisfied, according to App Store reviews.
Of the 1,100 reviews under its name, RaceTrac’s rewards app has an average score of 2.5 out of 5, and has more one-star ratings than any other score.
Hundreds of customer reviews note that RaceTrac’s app doesn’t work. Specifically, several reviews noted that the app constantly malfunctions, often displaying an error notice when loyalty members try to use it.
Reviews of this type were written as early as 2018, and as recently as 2023.
Other users also noted the app often has trouble locating RaceTrac stores, is inconsistent with letting customers use points, and doesn’t track users’ purchase history. Some users said that the app frequently crashes when they open it.
Beyond malfunctions, numerous reviewers noted they dislike that their loyalty points within the app expire after going unused for a certain period of time. One member noted they lost over 5,000 points in the app when they didn’t use them fast enough.
Thorntons – 2.7/5
Thorntons’ Refreshing Rewards mobile app only had six ratings of two or more stars over the past two years. It has 263 ratings overall.
Common issues include that its location tracking doesn’t work, that it takes a long time to load, and that “unexpected errors” often cause the app to crash. Several reviews noted that the app won’t open at all on iPhones.
Maverik – 2.8/5
In addition to Kum & Go’s poor app ratings, its parent company’s platform isn’t spoken of too highly either.
Of the 24 written reviews Maverik’s rewards app has received in the App Store this year, 22 of them are one-star ratings. Over the past nine years, Maverik's app has only received 23 five star ratings, according to its page in the store.
Common issues customers have experienced with Maverik’s rewards app include not getting their points to work or seeing their points expire, and an inability to link their bank account to the platform. Additionally, some noted they can’t view their Nitro card information in the app, meaning they cannot cancel or remove their payment info once it’s set up.
A more consistent issue across several reviews was that users cannot log into their account on a regular basis, with one customer calling this the “perpetual loading screen” phenomenon.
Highly rated apps
Terrible's Social House 4.7/5
One way to get people to use your product is to offer something customers can’t get from competitors.
While it has stores in California, Arizona and Utah, the bulk of the company’s 100-plus-store footprint is concentrated in Las Vegas. And Terrible’s has embraced one of its hometown’s most famous pastimes by including plenty of Vegas-style games in the app, including versions of slots, keno and poker.
Based on the reviews, it’s a hit. Multiple reviews compare it favorably to other apps with similar games. Users say they not only like being able to play the games from the comfort of their homes, but also earning points they can spend in store.
“I’ve bought Milk, soda … even oil for my car,” wrote one reviewer about a year ago.
United Dairy Farmers U-Drive 4.8/5
United Dairy Famer’s loyalty program earned a 9.14 out of 10 in Newsweek’s list of America’s Best Loyalty Programs for 2023. So it’s no wonder the app also is highly rated in the App Store, with a score of 4.8 out of 5.
One of the top aspects people love? The Wednesday freebies.
These free rewards through the app are not only good enough for many reviewers to highlight in their reviews, but also spurred at least one user to recommend it to others as well.
In addition to the freebies, app users can find nearby stores, check their current fuel discount, apply for a job at UDF and more.
While the five-star reviews far outnumber the one-star reviews, there are a few users who’ve reported problems. Many of the complaints highlighted technical issues, such as not being able to register a card or the app itself not being user-friendly enough.
Yesway Rewards 4.8/5
People who reviewed the Yesway app did not just like the app itself — they were using the space to extol the virtues of the chain, as well. These positive feelings helped push it to an overall 4.8 rating.
As is the case with most top-rated apps, users did not report recurring technical problems.
Most of the comments are instead about the quality of the stores and the quality of the benefits the app gives them. Different reviewers talk about the gas savings, the free items they purchased with the points they earned through the loyalty program and how using their loyalty membership gives them a community feeling.
One customer wrote about two years ago that while they have used multiple rewards programs, Yesway’s program and app was one of the best.
Murphy Drive Rewards 4.8/5
Fuel rewards are the focus of both positive and negative reviews for Murphy USA’s loyalty app,. As the 4.8-star rating shows, the positive far outweighs the negative.
One of the selling points of Murphy Drive Rewards is the ability to save up points to earn $1 off up to 20 gallons of gas.
Some users complain that while the $1 off can be used on up to 20 gallons, those 20 gallons need to be on a single fill-up. Many vehicles can't hold 20 gallons even from a totally empty state, they point out.
But rather than giving the app a one-star rating, many of them took the more constructive option of offering suggestions such as bringing more than one vehicle to pump gas into at the same time or asking the company to allow a portion of the points to be refunded if the customer doesn’t use all 20 gallons.