At this year’s Etail West conference, mobile again took the stage as speakers confirmed that retailers with well designed, user-friendly apps containing one-touch payment functionality can get mobile conversion rates that are similar or better than desktop eCommerce sites. Achieving great conversion rates is important, but apps are no longer just about transactions. More and more CMOs are looking at mobile as the next generation loyalty platform, poised to replace loyalty card programs within the next few years. All signs point towards this shift as enormous sums of money are being invested in new mobile loyalty marketing platforms.
Some of the world’s largest retailers, such as Sephora and most notably, Starbucks, have already integrated existing loyalty programs right into their apps, allowing people to count their rewards and redeem them for products right through their phones. Starbucks has been trailblazing the way in mobile payments and loyalty generation with one of the most successful retail apps of its kind. With so much powerful functionality contained within the smartphone, who needs to carry a pack of “old school” gift cards in their wallet?
Both Retailers and Consumers Win
So why exactly is mobile the next loyalty platform?
There are advantages that make the adoption of “mobile loyalty” inevitable for retailers as well as consumers. Our smartphones track online and in-store shopping behavior to help us make better buying decisions. This is a powerful capability that can accurately capture how modern consumers are shopping within the many locations and contexts in which they purchase. Going mobile with your loyalty program means you can harness a much fuller picture of your audience and what they need and like.
Then there’s the obvious: it eradicates the need for physical cards that get lost, left at home or discarded entirely. Consumers like the fact that they don’t need to provide an email address as they can sign into apps using their Apple IDs, or even their social media profiles.
Finally, mobile will allow for higher quality loyalty programs because retailers will have the ability to customize rewards based on a person’s behavior, lifestyle, current location and segment. Mobile devices allow a window into the world of its user, allowing retailers get a deeper understanding of how their customers spend time interacting with their brand, in any and all channels. On mobile, loyalty programs will no longer need to be a one-size-fits-all solution; rewards can be tailored, and therefore better in the customer’s eyes. Adoption of mobile as the loyalty platform of choice will be so rapid that traditional cards and programs will become obsolete within a few years.
Our advice to retailers is to get with the loyalty program of the future—lose the cards and go mobile, for your sake and your customers.