The separate loyalty card may become a relic now that retailers can tie their loyalty programs into customers’ credit and debit cards.
A new service called SingleSwipe, from loyalty marketer Chockstone Inc., allows credit and debit card companies to tie merchant loyalty programs to customers’ existing credit or debit card, so consumers can receive rewards, promotions, and additional savings without carrying multiple cards. American Express, MasterCard, VISA, and Discover have all signed on to participate.
“I think it is important technology for those wanting to offer a loyalty card,” says Bob Phibbs of The Retail Doctor. “Customers’ don’t want to have to carry another thing,”
”The primary drivers of this service — speeding up the payment process, eliminating the hassle factor for consumer participation in a rewards program, and lowering the overall cost of loyalty programs — improve the investment return that operators are experiencing through electronic rewards program,” says Jeff Lipp, CEO of Chockstone.
Although Chockstone’s primary clientele is in the restaurant industry, the firm has designed SingleSwipe to benefit any type of retailer looking to optimize customer convenience. With SingleSwipe, retailers can deliver targeted offers to consumers based on previous purchases and deliver them at the point of sale via paper receipt.
For retailers to implement the application, SingleSwipe requires some changes at the point of sale during initial deployment. It can work with an existing setup with added software and/or configuration changes to enable delivery. All the logic flows through Chockstone’s system, so when the card is swiped at the point of sale, the information is sent to Chockstone, then the offer is provided in real time and displayed on the customer’s receipt.
Chockstone also offers customer purchasing analytics that provide customer profiles and real-time categorization based on the last six months of purchases.“We’re behind the scenes connected to retail and restaurants’ point of sale, tracking customers through a swipe, so we can collect all of the data and package it into a real-time decision on behalf of our customers, to send targeted messages and offer discounts back to the point of sale,” says Lipp.
Affordable for smaller retailers
Because retailers no longer have to print up their own loyalty cards, overhead costs are reduced and more smaller retailers may now find it affordable to offer loyalty programs. Tulley’s Coffee Corporation, for one, sees the benefit of the simpler, more cost-effective system. Martin Walker, vice president of marketing and merchandising for Tully’s, said the company is “thrilled” about the new technology and notes the potential to simplify the operational aspect of launching and managing their own loyalty program.
“Retail loyalty programs can enhance customer return, but often are much more expensive when total dollars spent is divided by customers who use it,” says Phibbs. “It will be interesting to see how Tully’s, with an average ticket of $4.00, can actually grow business, not just increase their costs.”
“For the customers they are serving, I see the benefit because they can retain their POS system, and get more info on their customers,” adds Feldman.
Win-Win for Retailers, Consumers
“What SingleSwipe does for both the consumer and retailer is make the proposition of a rewards program more appealing,” says Lipp. “For the consumer it’s about earning points and being treated like a VIP customer without carrying around a whole bunch of cards. From an operational standpoint, it’s really nice for merchants to be able to tie it to your credit card so you no longer have to swipe two cards.”
“The Loyalty Card space is growing, in general,” adds Ron Feldman, President of World Business Consulting, Inc. “We have pin-based credit card programs and stand-alone debit card programs which bypass traditional credit card and ATM processing networks. Programs that can reduce merchant costs in this economy have more sizzle in the today’s marketplace. To me, companies partnering with other companies to generate business for one another using loyalty cards is exciting.”