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Rethinking loyalty in the personalised contextual age

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No, I am not trying to win some sort of SEO prize, that heading is there for a very good reason. Retail is in the personalised, contextual age – and one unexpected upshot is that suddenly loyalty schemes all look a bit, well, meh.

Last week’s IRX event at the NEC repeatedly showed that personalisation and contextualisation are becoming the by-words for both e and m-commerce and yet when it comes to loyalty schemes we largely rely on silly little plastic cards that clutter us up and that we forget we have and, if we do use them, crazy paper coupons as a reward.

From the retailer point of view they still deliver a vast amount of data, but as people’s interest in using them wanes as the experience becomes increasingly out of step with every other facet of e-commerce – where experience and personalisation are a la mode – so their use declines and the data gets more patchy.

A revamp of loyalty has been needed for quite some time – and the phone is the ideal place for that revamp to happen. In fact, a study of 1000 people in the UK by leading mobile app developer, Apadmi, found that 8 in 10 Brits would like to start collecting loyalty points on a retail app. The research also found that 29% of shoppers would be happy to share their location with a retail app to gain incentives and loyalty points when they walk around the store.

Customer loyalty card schemes are currently a big hit with shoppers, with over half of consumers (51%) claiming they own more than one loyalty card, and 46% stating that they regularly collect and spend points on a reward card.

However, at present, only 20% of UK smart phone users interact with a retail loyalty scheme on their phone.

Despite this, Brits are interested in the benefits mobile loyalty schemes can bring as 47% of consumers said they would prefer to collect loyalty points on a mobile app, rather than a card, to free up space in their wallet. Also, 63% said they would be more likely to take their phone with them when they go shopping over a loyalty card, highlighting the convenience of mobile loyalty schemes.

So why isn’t it happening? Like all things in m-commerce, because its hard to do. Or rather it’s easier and cheaper not to do anything.

But that could all be about to change. The launch last week of a novel solution that is, essentially, a way to enhance how mobile wallets work by a little known tech company called Veoo could shake things up considerably.

Its technology essentially allows retailers to send out a voucher that once put in the users Apple Wallet or Android Pay wallet will stay there and can be updated by the retailer whenever they want.

So what you ask? Well, having seen it in action it is quite impressive. Retailer sends out URL, customer clicks on it and gets essentially a lovely looking digital coupon or offer and then can add it to their wallet. Once in the wallet – and if they don’t disarm it, which of course they are able to do – the retailer can update it.

So when one offer is redeemed another can be added. And so on.

What this does in reality is turn the item in the wallet into a combined loyalty card and loyalty card redemption tool.

The beauty of it is that being in the wallet it can use all the functionality that comes with the wallet. So, as the user walks past a shop that they have an outstanding offer for, the phone can remind them. If they are in the supermarket, the wallet will remind them to use their ‘loyalty card’ and can even give them specific offers there and then.

The possibilities are endless and the upshot is that, being a simple SaaS solution it is really easy to do. Any retailer could easily now make their loyalty and couponing mobile.

It will drive footfall, add a huge early adopter advantage and generally satisify the users’ need for a better and easy way to do loyalty. I’d use it in a flash – since I always forget my clubcard.

Check it out – I think this could be one of the big things in m-retail – indeed in multichannel, as it pulls online and offline together so neatly and easily – for 2016.

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