Have you got your ‘smart’ loyalty card?

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In the wake of the recession, competition in the marketplace is at its most fierce and a resultant trend has emerged among retailers. In an effort to attract and retain customers, a growing number of organisations are turning to loyalty card schemes, and reaping the benefits of higher profitability in the process.

Loyalty cards offer a win-win opportunity for both retailers and consumers. For the consumer, they are a convenient way of stacking up points and rewards for future purchases and gaining 'special' access to discounts and promotions. Whilst for the retailer, they provide deep insight into customers purchasing behaviours and spending patterns.
Whilst most loyalty cards currently in issuance are 'non-technology' cards, loyalty cards using smart card technology are fast growing in prominence. Encompassing a read-write memory chip or RFID-based contactless technology, smart cards offer additional speed, security and a faster route to ROI than their 'non-technology' counterparts. Such advancements have therefore seen retailers gravitating towards smart card loyalty schemes.
Albeit loyalty card issuance offers clear advantages, it would seem that many of us are failing to get the most out of them. Recent research commissioned by the Subway chain shows that the UK are sitting on a whopping £5.2 billion of unused loyalty card points!
Instant issuance, however, has come to the fore as the approach for retailers to boost loyalty card usage. Wal-mart has embraced instant issuance successfully, installing 5000 printers across its US store network. The immediacy offers retailers an early chance to incentivise their customers to start collecting points, spending money with them there and then.
Above all, the major concern for retailers is to ensure that their customers never experience 'loyalty card fatigue'. With consumers constantly faced with alternative ways to spend their money and earn rewards, retailers need to stay one step ahead of the game with their loyalty card schemes. We are an increasingly tech savvy society, so when it comes to loyalty cards, rightly, we are demanding higher levels of security and convenience. Smart card-based schemes are thus well placed to support retailers in keeping their customers satisfied, engaged and attracting the next wave of loyal customers!