The Wait Is Over: Why Real-Time Redemption Makes Loyalty Better

These are challenging times for brick-and-mortar merchants. Across the world’s top 250 retailers, the average annual rate of revenue growth has declined by almost 50% in the past 10 years.

As retailers work to reverse this trend, it is clear that improving the delivery of value-added services (VAS) such as loyalty and rewards programs can create significant advantages. VAS program members can contribute between 12-18% more revenue than non-program members. It is also far more efficient to retain existing customers than attract new ones, and loyalty and rewards are integral to increasing consumer lifetime value (LTV) by incentivizing important repeat custom.

In the battle to enhance the effectiveness of VAS programs and keep consumers engaged in a hugely competitive market, real-time redemption is emerging as a powerful tool.

Ending the waiting game – making VAS work better

Although VAS programs can undoubtedly be effective, many consumers are demonstrating signs of ‘loyalty fatigue’. For example, the average U.S. household is registered with 29 loyalty programs, billions of dollars’ worth of reward currencies lie dormant, and over half of loyalty participants do not actively participate. A significant factor behind this ‘loyalty fatigue’ is that it simply takes far too long to generate any meaningful rewards, so consumers quickly lose interest. This is because loyalty and rewards programs have traditionally emphasized repeat custom over a long period of time. Buy 10 coffees and get the 11thfree. The problem is, if I only visit the coffee shop once a week as a weekend treat I’m not going to see a return on my loyalty and investment for a long time. Without an incentive, there are plenty of other places out there for me to try.

Demographic shifts only add to the challenges for retailers. Younger consumers are more willing to shop around compared to previous generations, and the on-demand economy means there is an expectation of instant gratification. To get ahead of the game, VAS programs need to be easy to access, available to use on-demand and appeal to the user’s immediate needs. For example, I’m probably not that interested in a free coffee in three months’ time, but I could just be tempted with a half-price muffin right now.

Real-time loyalty redemption

This is where real-time redemption comes in. Consumers receive their rewards and loyalty coupons instantaneously at the point-of-sale and can use them for that purchase, rather than having to wait until the next visit. It really works. Consumers who receive rewards instantaneously spend up to 25% more compared to traditional redemption models, and 55% compared to using no loyalty scheme at all.

Digitization is the key

Making real-time redemption work with existing loyalty collateral, such as plastic cards or paper coupons, can pose challenges and create complexities. The good news for retailers is that the underlying technology to enable simple, effective real-time redemption at scale is already out there via mobile wallets. But multi-function mobile wallets are where the value really lies.

For example, mobile scan-and-go already makes the in-store shopping experience simpler, faster and more convenient by enabling consumers to easily scan their items with their smartphone as they shop, and then checkout in-aisle with an in-app purchase. But adding real-time redemption takes the scan-and-go buying experience to the next level, making it easy for consumers to earn points, rewards and coupons, and then use them for that purchase. Solutions that also provide a split payment function, allowing consumers to pay with a mix of credit, points and coupons in a single transaction, further boost flexibility and convenience.

Real-time at the right time

An important part of real-time redemption is not only that the rewards are instantaneous, but that they are delivered at the right time. With store branded scan-and-go wallets, consumers are already engaging with their smartphone to scan the products – enabling retailers to push contextual rewards, promotions and offers directly to the consumer as they shop. This helps build valuable repeat custom and drives higher average spend per visit, key to helping boost the average revenue per user (ARPU).

The future of loyalty

Real-time redemption enhances the effectiveness of loyalty and rewards programs. In a competitive and challenging landscape, retailers who move quickly can gain significant advantages. Mobile scan-and-go, therefore, can be used as a key enabling technology by retailers to accelerate deployments of real-time redemption and get ahead of the innovation curve.

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Editorial Team is a leading industry news site for the point of sale and payments industry.We are also the go-to resource for small business owners that want expert tips and inspiration on how to run a successful business. Collectively, our team of experts has decades of POS, payments, and small business experience.