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Loyalty programmes now accessible to SMEs

A few years back it was tempting to write off effective loyalty programmes for small businesses with small budgets. We have seen the demand for loyalty programme adoption by SMEs grow exponentially year on year.

According to Truth’s Loyalty Whitepaper released earlier this year, loyalty programme usage continues to grow and there are over 100 loyalty programmes available to consumers in South Africa. We can attribute this growth to the fact that loyalty has become more “accessible” to brands wanting a loyalty programme, particularly SMEs.

Many brands have surpassed the traditional earn and burn loyalty models which offer little room for innovation. Now, smaller brands can not only join the party but create brand loyalty in a meaningful way with specific tools and tactics at more palatable costs (considering the size of their businesses). We’ve identified 2 developments attributing to the growth in the number of loyalty programmes:

1. Mobile innovation in loyalty

Because loyalty is continuously evolving as technology evolves, we have seen exciting innovation in mobile when it comes to loyalty programme design. Brands have found creative ways to increase engagement through their mobile channels. These include things like being able to pay using your phone, sending shopping credit or a gift to a friend.

A great example of a brand using a completely integrated loyalty solution on an entirely mobile platform is Vida e Café. Developed by the WiGroup, Vida’s loyalty app is ahead of its time in the South African loyalty landscape. With payments, gifting and loyalty all coming together in one functional app, Vida is really showing how the effective us of the mobile channel is all that’s needed to deliver a seamless customer experience.

However, not all brands have the appetite to have an app developed. This could be for multiple reasons such as cost or that their customers are not the right target audience to make use of apps. Whatever the reason, brands have made use of other mobile innovations when it comes to their loyalty programme. It could be as simple as implementing a unique USSD string for customers to dial in order to view their loyalty account balance, update their details and view their rewards.

“Goodbye Plastic, Hello Fantastic!”, Sorbet’s new loyalty programme tagline promotes the new change to their programme whereby  customers only need to use their cellphone number as their loyalty member when earning their Society points. It’s a simple, yet effective benefit of their programme which replaces the need to carry a loyalty card to earn rewards.

2. “Plug in Play” loyalty solutions
Another development we’ve seen is providers offering an easy entry into the market at low price points. We’ve found an increase in low cost loyalty solutions entering the South African market place, from coffee shops to pet stores, which do not require extensive development and excessive monetary investment, however, can still deliver to customer expectations. We call this a “plug & play” solution which includes minimal integration and is simple & easy to use by all levels of staff.

Over the years, Truth has identified the need for a loyalty solution for SMEs and has recently launched a new product offering called Loyalty Lite. We’ve partnered with reputable loyalty service providers to cater to the needs of SMEs.

Loyalty Lite is a ready to implement solution which comes in two versions: Loyalty Lite Basic and Loyalty Lite Pro, the difference being that Loyalty Lite Pro is fully integrated into point of sale (POS). Integration into POS, allows for far more sophisticated tracking of your customers’ spend behaviour. The platform allows you to gather important customer data to better understand who your customers are and at the same time reward them with something meaningful. There are many different ways in which you can reward your customers from vouchers, coupons & discounts to points and cash back.  In addition, Loyalty Lite can send tactical communication and rewards such as sending customers vouchers or a gift card on their birthday.

Loyalty Lite was built with smaller businesses in mind and keeping it simple for both staff and customers to use. The platform is flexible, allowing brands to become creative with their loyalty programmes.

Based on the developments mentioned above, we look forward to seeing further loyalty innovation to hit the South Africa loyalty market place this year, making loyalty programmes even more accessible to SMEs.