Tablets and loyalty programs: more reward, less hassle

This week I traveled to New York to speak at the MediaCrossMedia Loyalty event. The event was focused on using mobile technologies as a key part of loyalty marketing and loyalty programs. I added the technical, geeky side of the conversation while Mark Krolic from United Airlines added the necessary element of credibility from running the largest loyalty program in the U.S.

There are two trends within mobile and loyalty marketing: the first is the proliferation of loyalty apps for smartphones. Customers download these apps and then start earning loyalty rewards when they check-in or make a purchase at specific retailers and restaurants. For now, there aren’t many apps that are specific to one loyalty program, like United’s Mileage Plus. Instead, most of these apps rely on the customer joining a loyalty network and then earning reward only at participating retailers and restaurants. Some of these apps are: CardStar, KarmaKey, ShopKick, Punchd and even Foursquare.

The other trend we are seeing is the use of iPads and Android tablets as a portal to the loyalty program right at the restaurant or retail shop. Instead of requiring that the customer have a smartphone and install a specific app, retailers are mounting a tablet right at the point-of-sale and customers interact with it directly to participate in the loyalty program. Effectively replacing paper and plastic cards, this approach increases participation in the program, keeps the check-out process fast and, most importantly, gives the restaurant or retailer more transactional data. A few of the providers of this program include: FavoriteEats (a MokiMobility partner), Belly Card and Square. As a use case, I shared some of the results FavoriteEats has seen with one of their early customers, Gandolfo’s Deli. In the 2 months since they deployed the FavoriteEats iPad app they have seen a 250% increase in loyalty participation and their text marketing list has doubled in size. Now, FavoriteEats can segment their customer list and send special offers via SMS that are targeted specifically based on purchase history, time of day and location..

Using tablets mounted at the location has several benefits:

  1. It’s an experience owned and managed by the retailer. With many of the existing smartphone apps, the retailer has little control over the whole experience (how or when an offer is presented). At their location, however, they control how the offer is presented.
  2. Even though smartphone penetration in the U.S. is over 50%, it’s still not 100%; tablet loyalty programs effectively reach all customers.
  3. It doesn’t slow down or hinder the checkout process because it’s right at the register, no need to wait for an app to download or a customer to signin/signup on their own device.
  4. Transaction data can be captured with the loyalty participation. Dollar amount and purchase details can now be associated with the purchase, so the restaurant owner has a much greater view of the activity happening with customers participating in the loyalty program.
  5. Using an iPad or Android device it’s much easier to build an integration with the existing smartphone apps. Can you imagine trying to build an integration with Micros and Foursquare? Not going to happen.

In the long run the ultimate goal is to merge both approaches, a smartphone app and a tablet at the location. Right now customers have to enter a phone number or other personal identifier, but imagine how much easier it will be when we can just Bump a tablet, NFC or the new Apple Passbook.

At MokiMobility, we are enabling the use of tablets for loyalty by making it easier for developers to build these kinds of solutions with remote management for the app and the device itself. By securing the iPad or Android device and enabling these devices to be remotely managed, MokiMobility unlocks the potential for tablets to be used in a single-purpose way.

How much smaller will your wallet be when you can get rid of all those paper punch cards?



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