Loyalty schemes are in need of transformation – and fast. Retailers should be looking to payment tech for the answers, says Bink chief executive Mike Jordan.

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Recognising and rewarding your loyal customers is a fundamental principle of successful retailing. Yet all too often retailers pass up the opportunity to drive long-term customer engagement and value by operating loyalty schemes that belong in an analogue age.

Let’s consider a typical customer loyalty experience. We may not realise a retailer even has a loyalty scheme. If we do discover there’s a scheme in operation, joining it is often a high-friction process that relies on us either filling in a form at the checkout or applying via an online portal.

Eventually, we get given a plastic card – not great from an environmental perspective – that we then have to carry around with us along with all the other loyalty cards we’ve acquired over the years. And then we have to physically present the card every time we make a purchase in order to earn our rewards.

“As customers, we’ve got used to seamless evolutions in the way payments are made”

Contrast this friction-filled experience with the way we pay for products and services, which is much further along the path to modernisation.

As customers, we’ve got used to seamless evolutions in the way payments are made, from Chip and Pin replacing a signature to contactless and, more recently, mobile wallets such as Apple Pay. It’s fast, convenient and integrated with the devices we use in our day-to-day lives.

Payment tech leads the way

If anything, the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the pace of change in frictionless, convenient payment technology.

In October, Tesco followed Amazon by launching a new checkout-free store format, GetGo, at its Express branch on High Holborn, London.

To date, the pandemic has yet to bring about the same transformation in the way retailers reward loyalty. We think it’s high time that changed.

Bink enables consumers to engage with the loyalty and reward schemes they love in a simple, low-friction manner that is more closely aligned to what’s happening in the broader payments landscape. 

Our smart technology securely links customers’ regular payment cards to any loyalty programmes they are already with or may want to join, allowing them to earn rewards seamlessly and digitally each time they make a purchase.

We work with tier-one banks to embed our technology within their existing mobile banking apps, giving retailers instant access to millions of potential customers.

Bink also supports retailers that don’t have a loyalty scheme to bring one to market. And for those businesses whose existing schemes use high-friction processes, we develop low-lift solutions that enable customers to earn rewards seamlessly and digitally using their regular payment cards. 

A new era of loyalty

The time is right for retailers to rethink the engagement model of their loyalty schemes.

When we look at our mobile phone screens we see banking apps sat alongside travel apps, newspaper apps, fitness apps and many more besides. In each case, those businesses have sought to make our lives simpler, lower-friction and rewarding in the way they bring their products and services to market.

“Retailers who successfully adopt digitised, frictionless loyalty programmes stand to benefit in a number of ways”

In this new era of seamless, digital experiences, convincing a customer they need to take a physical loyalty card with them when they shop is becoming harder than ever. That’s why we are already seeing presentation rates for loyalty cards drop off – and they will continue to do so without a digital transformation.

Frictionless loyalty programmes benefit in a number of ways. By reducing the barriers to entering a scheme, businesses can significantly increase sign-up rates. And by linking rewards with payment cards, retailers can recognise and reward the customer every time they shop, both in store and online.

The ability to identify a customer every time they shop allows businesses to generate better and richer data, which in turn enables them to serve the customer better, including by giving them more customised or personalised offers. This ultimately drives greater engagement and long-term loyalty from those customers.

The loyalty revolution is still in its infancy compared with payments, but it is happening and will continue to accelerate. Retailers who value customer loyalty must ensure they don’t get left behind.

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Mike Jordan will be joining Paul Airey, head of tech solutions at M&S, and Jonathan Holmes, chief executive of LuxDeco, at Retail Week’s Tech Week to talk more about payments and discuss the smart technology and rewards retailers should be prioritising to boost customer engagement. 

The virtual panel discussion is free to view – register here to watch on November 2 or access on-demand after the broadcast.

Posed photo of Mike Jordan, chief executive of Bink

Mike Jordan is chief executive of Bink

A senior executive with extensive experience in payments and financial technology in both scaled, turnaround and early-stage organisations, Mike Jordan is a passionate leader with experience in managing large teams and building executive-level talent. He is an expert on emerging technology and the associated impacts on consumer engagement, sector disruption and innovation, with more than 25 years’ experience in financial services and the payment card industry gained across diverse cultures and multiple geographies.