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STEP 1. Background
Founded in 1862, Towngas was the first public utility in Hong Kong. With the philosophy of providing low-carbon, environmentally-friendly and clean gas to the general public, Towngas is now the leading piped gas provider. Being a giant in the energy industry, Towngas has started to broaden its business to different aspects, such as kitchenware retails, restaurants, and cooking workshops. With the advancing technology, Towngas would like to promote them in a digitized and effective way.
STEP 2. Business Challenge
Lack of Customer Engagement: The main income source of Towngas is from gas supply, the regular gas fee paid by open flame users are what keep Towngas profitable. However, for convenience and cheapness, more and more households chose to cook with an induction cooker rather than an open flame stove. This is the reason why Towngas start up different extended businesses to enhance customer engagement. However, without a proper platform to promote itself, Towngas may not be able to reach its potential customers and make sure they are engaged in Towngas’ products and services.
Sub-brands are Decentralized:As mentioned, Towngas has developed different types of businesses apart from gas supplying to engage its customers. However, the operations and promotions of these brands are separated and they might not be attractive enough to grab the attention of the customers, so a centralized way is needed to gather all the businesses of Towngas.
Limited Target Users:Members of Towngas Fun are usually the one who owe the gas bills, they are usually parents or people who live alone. For those who do not have to settle gas bills, like teenagers who live with their parents, they might not be familiar with Towngas. It would be a challenge for Towngas to broaden its target audience and engage more users in its loyalty program.
Lack of O2O development:An O2O platform is needed to let Towngas approach its customers and promote its physical stores more effectively. Most of the contact between Towngas and its customers is through mails, or at most phone calls. It is difficult to catch the eyes of the customers toward Towngas’ new businesses with some plain and traditional promotion methods only. An online platform with incentives is essential if Towngas wants its customers to be engaged in their different businesses.
Reduce Unnecessary Use of Resources:The philosophy of Towngas is to provide services in a sustainable, and an eco-friendly way. However, when it comes to issuing gas bills to the public, excessive papers are used in mailing. It also takes a lot of manpower to record the meter readings from millions of households in the traditional way. Hence, Towngas needs to promote its e-platforms for the mentioned procedures, and encourage the general public to make great use of them.
STEP 3. The Solution
Promoting a Lifestyle Through Loyalty Program: In Towngas Fun, users may collect points by spending money on any brand of Towngas and participating in different activities. With the accumulated points, users may enjoy discounts or even free items provided by the reward partners. There is a redemption tab in the application which leads the customers to the online mall where they can claim different rewards with their loyalty points or purchase directly. Apart from some reward partners like Watsons, OTO, and Wing Wah, the brands under Towngas like Flame at Towngas Avenue, Towngas Cooking Centre, and TGC are also included. Hence, the exposure of Towngas’ sub-brands will be increased, providing a centralized and convenient platform for customers to purchase Towngas’ products may help them to foster a habit of choosing Towngas’ products. Some items on the online mall, such as cooking workshops or open flame cooking stoves, may even promote open flame cooking, the usage of Towngas’ gas supplying services are more likely to increase in the long-term once the habit and lifestyle of the customers cooking with open flame are developed.
Household Account: Household accounts can be created by the bill owners. Other family members may join the household to share points with each other. Apart from paying bills, there are a lot of ways to earn points in Towngas Fun, such as participating in an event, purchasing in the online mall, and daily sign-in. Since everyone can earn their own points and the points can be shared within the same household account, it would be faster for a household to save a specific amount of loyalty points, and the application users will not have to be limited to the bill owners.
Our O2O solution: To provide an O2O shopping experience to customers, we have combined two functions together in a standalone application, including the loyalty and the e-commerce function. The redemption tab leads the customers to the online mall where they can spend their points, as well as purchase goods from reward partners. Adding an online shopping platform in the loyalty program may increase the chance for Towngas’ customers to spend more money, and since some of the goods are required to be picked up at physical stores, the users will have a chance to visit some, if not all, of the offline shops under Towngas’ brands.
E-Billing and Auto Payment:It is important to provide ways for the users to earn additional points so that they will feel like the rewards are obtainable. In order to do so, as well as reducing unnecessary resources, Towngas provides extra loyalty points for its members to apply for e-billing. There will be 500 extra points given to the users for their first application of e-billing and auto payment, and 50 extra points for every time they report meter readings, receive and pay the gas bills online. On one hand, the willingness of customers to keep participating in the loyalty program will increase. On the other hand, Towngas may cut out unnecessary costs and resources in the billing process, such as paper documents, bills, as well as manpower.
STEP 4. The Results
Positive Reviews:After launching for a year, the application has reached over 50000 downloads, became the top one of Appstore’s lifestyle category for a week, and received a lot of 5 stars ratings. The majority of comments praised the nice user interface of the application, proving that the efforts in UX and UI designs are paid off.
Sub-brands’ Exposure Increased:Originally, the promotion works of Towngas’ sub-brands were separate. With the standalone application, Towngas Fun provided a platform for Towngas to provide products from different brands all in one place. Since the customers may need to visit the physical store to claim the rewards, such as taking cooking workshops or other specific items, there will be more chances for users to explore more about Towngas and its sub-brands. Towngas is more likely to enjoy profit growth if the exposure of its sub-brands is increased.
Long-term Profit: Most of the rewards provided are discounts, depending on the product types, users may purchase items with half of their original price. Since Towngas Fun is an earn-and-burn loyalty program, when the customers redeem the discounts with loyalty points and purchase something, they will receive additional points afterward. A cycle of spending and earning loyalty points is formed, users will be motivated to participate in the loyalty program of Towngas fun, generating long-term profits for Towngas.
Benefits of O2O business: Towngas Fun acts as an O2O membership platform of Towngas, resulting in the increase of its sub-brand awareness, as well as the customer flows of the physical stores. The customers will be more likely to engage in Towngas’ side businesses with its online and offline promotions.