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Remember when we all had plastic loyalty cards from the supermarket in our wallets? As with everything else, technology is changing the way we create and run our loyalty schemes. In the last decade, technology has advanced at lightning speed; from Smartphones being a coveted item for the select few to, something which half of the planet now owns, along with their new voice activated speaker. As the advances in technology gain ever more momentum, we take a look at how our tech is changing the loyalty industry.
Stamping out fiddly tokens.
In the 1950s, loyalty was all about the Green Shield stamp; customers would collect books of these paper stamps from shops and petrol stations in direct correlation to purchases made. These customers would dutifully collate their stamps in a book until they had enough to swap for gifts from the Green Shield catalogue. Although the basic concept here remains the same, digital apps have now replaced stamps and books, allowing people to collect and redeem their points with a couple of clicks or swipes.
Browsing has turned a page.
Remember the days when remote shopping involved a catalogue coming through the door which could double up as a draught excluder? Although many have fond memories of flicking through Littlewoods and Argos catalogues, technology has now taken shopping to another level with easily accessible websites. Not only do these sites cut down on paper waste but allow for fast and convenient searching, wish listing and purchasing – with the ability to instantly check if a product is in or out of stock.
From a little black book to big data.
Are you being served?
Traditionally, retail was all about service with a smile – with customers being served by friendly sales staff of the human variety. As technology marches forward, the online shopping experience is being increasingly staffed by bots and artificial intelligence. Although we’re still a little way off finding ourselves face to face with a robot assistant in a bricks and mortar store, machine learning means that customer service is changing. Clever use of robotics means that technology can do a number of service related jobs including answering queries, taking bookings and resolving issues – with many customers blissfully unaware of the fact that they’re not communicating with an actual person. As artificial intelligence moves into our homes by way of products such as Echo and Alexa, our loyalty programmes too are harnessing this time and money saving technology.
What do points make?
In the days of the Green Shield stamp, customers were delighted to be able to swap their stamps for an alarm clock or encyclopedia but, these days, they want more. In 2019, customers are no longer happy to settle for transactional rewards such as a discount or a free gift; they want something a little more special. In order to secure customer loyalty, brands are having to up their rewards game and, are expected to fork over concert tickets, invitations to VIP events, day trips and holidays. These days, for most brands, it’s a full time job to keep up with customer reward demands as they know that, if they don’t – their competitors will.
Although these are a few examples of recent changes to loyalty programmes, things are likely to have changed again in as short a time as a few months. The relentless advance of technology means that the loyalty industry needs to become ever-more consumer focussed in order to stay in touch with customers and meet their increasing needs. With customer experience being the new buzzword for brands, retailers need to continually find new ways to keep up with customer expectations.