Loyalty Cards — When will we be rid of them ?

Retail 2.0

Last week I was in a large well known stationary store, looking for a birthday card. A store team member came up to me and asked if I needed any help, I said that I was looking for a card, the store team member then asked if I needed help choosing a card.

I found this extremely annoying.

I then went to the counter to pay for the card I had chosen, I was then asked if I was a loyalty member of the store, I said no . I was then asked if I wanted to be a member and was then bombarded with all of the benefits of being a loyalty member of the store.

What I wish the store knew….

  • I only go to that store to purchase cards
  • I wish there was a real benefit to becoming a loyalty member other than allowing the company to promote other products to me over email
  • I would love to be a member but don't want to carry around another card with me

Costco handle this slightly better, they have empowered the use of the card and their loyalty program. I understand the value of carrying around one of Costco’s cards, and that is only members can shop in their stores. They are simply not providing me with a loyalty program that I may get 10% off specific items on my birthday.

This being said — how long will it be before I walk into a store where the business has invested in proximity technology and thus allowing team members to know who I am , what I buy, how much I have spent with the company, and have loyalty or recognition handled automatically when I purchase items?

Apple Pay, iBeacons and Apple Passbook are becoming a fully integrated solution.

Apple is starting to really build out the tools to support this scenario. For example the following are available to retailers to support better customer engagement:

  • iBeacon
  • Passbook
  • Apple Pay

The above tools can be tied to a customer relationship management system like Salesforce and can also feed data into the enterprise BI solution.. Hopefully soon we will be able to walk to a coffee shop, get a notification asking us if we would like “the usual”, automatically pay with loyalty recognised then have our ordered coffee delivered to where we are standing at the coffee shop.

All though the technology is key to provide ease of transaction from a customer point of view, there is also a lot of value of understanding how each of your customers are purchasing. With the inclusion of location and mobile in the transaction cycle, retailers will now be able to understand more about their customers and tailor specific experiences to them. They will also have the ability to target and instantly market while we are in store.

As it currently stands we are living in a world where a large retailer offers deals in store, they pull and match your buying data via Store card, and usually direct mail is sent out to us with relevant deals we may purchase next time in store.

Will 2015 be the year we finally have instant tailored loyalty rewards without the need to carry loyalty cards in our wallets?