Tying loyalty into the omnichannel experience

January 2019

At the dawn of 2019, online and mobile channel use continues to grow rapidly across the globe, consumers are increasingly demanding the ability to make purchases in a personalized and secure way, and retailers are working hard to expand their digital engagement strategies.

To meet their customers’ demands, businesses are creating a consistent shopping experience where the distance between the digital and physical landscapes no longer exists. Successful disruptors, such as Nike, are seeking not only to create a fully integrated, ‘seamless’ retail environment, but also to tempt the customers to return to their store, building trust and loyalty.

Loyalty programs have proven to be one of the most effective tactics for increasing revenue and boosting customers’ trust in your brand. According to the Loyalty Report 2017, produced by Bond Brand Loyalty in collaboration with Visa, 81% of respondents agree that loyalty programs make them more likely to continue doing business with that specific brand, 66% modify spend to maximize loyalty benefits, and 73% are more likely to recommend brands with good loyalty programs. Moreover, the study revealed that experience drivers (comprising the digital experience, human touch, and the way in which a Program aligns with the brand) are more important than monetary drivers in achieving program satisfaction.

Therefore, there are technical solutions that enable retailers and merchants accept payments while supporting loyalty programs. To name a few:

Mobile card readers

Technology nowadays enables tech providers to offer viable options for companies of any size, ranging from the affordable magnetic strip reader to chip card readers. These can be equipped with hardware and software components that can be tailored to specific requirements, such as adding apps, or connecting them to sales dashboards. Moreover, these devices are able to capture tons of purchasing info, and thus transactions can be checked and analysed to define voucher and loyalty point campaigns.

Mobile payments using NFC

Near field communication (NFC) can be used not only to speed up the payment process at the point of sale, but also to include voucher and customer loyalty programmes. These programmes can be directly linked to payment transactions via NFC-enabled smartphones. In this way, high street retailers have the option of incorporating marketing campaigns into the checkout process at the till.

BLE Smart Payments

Beacons are small battery-powered devices that use Bluetooth low energy signals to connect with other smart devices (a smartphone or a tablet). Currently, many restaurants use beacon technology to establish rapport with their regular customers. Clients that use mobile devices with beacons can inform the restaurant personnel of their name, preferences, and ordering habits. This can help a cashier to greet a customer by name and point out special offers or promotions that could appeal to them.

Digital platforms using Big Data and chatbots

Knowing who your members are on a personal basis – their name, age and interests – allows you to strategically promote your program and personalise the communication and rewards you have on offer while utilising digital platforms. Moreover, digital platforms enable you not only to interact with your members, but also with potential new ones, in other regions/countries.

For instance Wirecard’ digital platform facilitates loyalty programmes to be run across different countries. Merchants can allow their customers to redeem their digital points, cards, or vouchers across the globe, regardless of where they were originally issued or where the customer lives.

The use of Big Data analysis for shopping platforms and the use of chatbots in ecommerce helps in understanding consumer behaviour and in assisting customers to make easier and valued buying decisions. Without behavioural data, which consumers happily trade for a more personalized experience, brands couldn’t target the right users and personalize their recommendations.

One of the most successful loyalty programs story/app that everyone knows (and most probably uses) is the Starbucks app. My Starbucks Rewards program, which runs through the app, enables coffee lovers to enjoy their drinks with no loyalty cards needed or sign-in required. Starbucks gathers information on all of their habits, empowering them to offer more relevant perks and communication to customers.

Therefore, the onus is on the brands to be loyal to their customers, in the hope of getting that loyalty back. These brands accomplish that by embracing technology and making the most of their data.