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No Such Thing as ‘Too Much Loyalty’

The overwhelming success of loyalty programmes amongst South Africa’s big retailers has encouraged many mid-tier brands to roll out their own offerings. While these can only help to attract and retain customers, many are missing out on the benefits of running the built-in loyalty programmes offered by QR payment platforms in tandem with their own.

“South Africans have shown that they are great at gamifying the various loyalty programmes. This has really helped retailers gather data, allowing them to influence shopping behaviour and improve the overall customer experience. The problem is that some see the built-in loyalty offered by payment solutions as competition to their proprietary offerings rather than using it cleverly to augment what they have,” says Brett White, CEO of Zapper.

White explains that in much the same way as a business would choose to advertise on multiple platforms and mediums such as search, social media, radio and press, payment loyalty programmes simply enable another way of incentivising a specific cohort of customers through a different channel that they already enjoy using.

While the in-store loyalty helps retailers action campaigns for their customers, enabling the payment loyalty programme, which spans thousands of merchants and venues, unlocks the potential to create broader use cases.

“Now you have the chance to design campaigns that span various user cohorts, merchant networks, and specific products. For instance, you could work with other merchants within a mall to create incentives for customers to buy specific products at one establishment while earning a discount at another establishment. This not only drives increased sales across merchants, but encourages mall loyalty, which in turn drives repeat business across the venue,” he shares.

A smarter consumer who is used to meaningful rewards 

South Africans have become very comfortable managing multiple loyalty programmes across brands. The 2021 BrandMapp and Truth Loyalty survey shows that the average middle class South African is an active participant in at least nine loyalty programmes at any given time. Those surveyed also said that cash back rewards as well as discount vouchers are the biggest drivers for them to participate.

“As the sun finally sets on third-party cookies, come mid-2023, CMOs and their digital agencies are scrambling to find ways to gather vital first-person data. However, there is no doubt that we have become more discerning when it comes to what it will take for us to share our personal information. With all the programmes out there, CMOs are competing in an increasingly noisy space. Benefits must be compelling and rewards meaningful if they hope to grab the attention of the customer. This is where the multiplier effect can be used to your advantage,” White says.

Sitting on the sidelines is bad for business 

White is quick to add that another missed opportunity lies with merchants who are hesitant about giving away discounts or freebies.

“Not using the loyalty offering to its full potential can also be a real challenge, particularly for smaller merchants in a tight climate. Offering a free coffee after every twenty purchases is hardly a compelling offer. The age of the YouTube influencer has taught us that even giving away higher-end products such as perfumes, makeup or gourmet meals can build loyal followers who will not only sing your praises, but who will rush to repurchase the product and try others. Building real loyalty is about backing yourself. Your customers will soon spread the word, making the investment pay off many times over,” he advises.

White ends by pointing out that unlike proprietary loyalty programmes that require big capex commitments and a fair amount of maintenance, deploying a ready-to-go payment loyalty programme is a no-risk investment.

“Deployments can be handled easily by our teams. The platform also means updates, improvements and new services are rolled out regularly with no extra effort on your part. Once it’s up and running the only requirement is your imagination. There is simply no compelling reason not to deploy the loyalty programme that comes with your QR payment solution. It takes nothing away from your brand offering and can consolidate the power of payment data with the currency of customer data – and in a first-party data world, no marketing professional or business owner can afford to say ‘Too much Loyalty’,” White says.

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