Making Loyalty Mobile

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I have a fat wallet. Unfortunately this isn’t due to an abundance of cash, but rather an abundance of cardboard and plastic. In one section, I have four cardboard loyalty stamp cards with varying levels of completeness.

The Fat Wallet

In another, I have five plastic loyalty cards for many of the large supermarket chains. And, in a final section, I have a conglomeration of restaurant and other retail stores’ loyalty cards which, on top of my personal and work debit and credit cards, driving licence and blood donor card mean that my poor wallet is bursting at the seams. However, after some deliberating I have decided that my wallet will soon be going on a diet: the Apple diet.

Monday 8th June saw the announcement at Apple’s annual World Wide Developers Conference that Apple Pay will at long last be launching in the UK. With the majority of major banks on board, and over 250,000 locations from several well-known retailers such as M&S, Boots and Waitrose offering the payment method when it launches next month, the way that consumers pay for goods and services, and the customer experience that goes along with this, will change for the better. And, thankfully (for the sake of my engrossed wallet), Apple Pay will be extended to support store cards and loyalty cards in a bid to create a truly mobile wallet.

Source: Apple

Mobile Loyalty

Whilst some loyalty programmes such as Starbucks Rewards and Costa Coffee Club have already made the transition from a plastic card into a digital wallet, others are eschewing the plastic loyalty card from the start, and are leaping into loyalty mobile-first. Harvey Nichols recently launched their Rewards programme, offering rewards and perks to customers through a single mobile app, and customers are identified at the till via a mobile barcode.

Marketing Week recently published an article which takes a closer look at loyalty programmes and how brands embrace mobile and digital. The article highlights that ‘more brands should follow suit as consumers look for more personalised and rewarding loyalty strategies’ and references Capgemini Consulting’s recent research into loyalty. The study found that brands are failing when it comes to living up to consumers’ expectations. On social media, 89% of opinions about loyalty are negative, while just 11% of schemes personalise rewards in a way that customers expect.

Steve Hewett, Head of Retail Customer Engagement & Loyalty at Capgemini, commented in the Marketing Week article:

“If customers give a brand their data they expect them to do something with it. Brands are missing out on engaging and rewarding customers

He also highlighted legacy issues that can inhibit brands’ ability to put digital schemes in place, as often significant investments into new PoS and Wi-Fi in stores are required. However, the article also highlights that while we’re at ‘an inflection point moving from the old school transactional paper-based era to one about personalised engagement and adapting for digital’, it’s not the end of card-based schemes as they still generate a good return on investment.

As new payment methods are introduced to more major retailers across the country, and the mobile phone becomes an even more critical part of a consumer’s shopping experience, expect that more and more companies will ditch the traditional plastic or cardboard loyalty card and will transition to a mobile offering. Looking towards the future, as wearables, sensors and the Internet of Things become more accessible to both businesses and consumers, these too will play an important part in both payments and customer loyalty.

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