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e-commerce Editor's pick mobile Retail technology

6 loyalty activations driving customer engagement

Today’s consumers are increasingly spoilt by choice, meaning brands  have to work harder than ever to earn any level of loyalty. That hasn’t stopped many from trying however. 

In today’s retail climate, personalization is king, with customers seeking brands that tailor their products and services to their behaviors. When done correctly,  loyalty programs not only respond to that need, but can generate over 20% of a company’s profits, according to McKinsey

Retailers across the board – from larger names like Target and Nordstrom to standalone brands like Nike – are revamping their traditional spend-and-reward offerings to add layers of digital that respond to the modern consumer.

From tapping into an engaged community and encouraging gamified behavior, to pushing personalized spending in-store, here we highlight some of the most innovative loyalty approaches:

FOSTERING COMMUNITY

Victoria's Secret PINK NATION
Victoria’s Secret PINK NATION

One of the cornerstones of the Victoria’s Secret’s PINK brand, is its college ambassador program, which recruits university students across the country representatives. The role is not too dissimilar from a social media influencer, with responsibilities including promoting the brand on social, offering followers advice and organizing campus events and get-togethers. Ambassadors dedicate up to 10-hours a week to their roles for free, and see this as an opportunity to build a personal brand with PINK’s support.

The brand’s loyalty program, PINK NATION, has also received an upgrade and launched its very first app, aiming to emulate a girl’s club. This includes exclusive member perks as well as a dedicated Campus tab where customers can chat with ambassadors. Ultimately, the brand wants to scale to include more college-life related content.

Flipkart-owned fashion retailer Myntra also took a similar crowdsourced approach to loyalty when it launched the Shopping Groups feature in 2017, in the run-up to its  End Of Reason Sale (otherwise known as EORS). Shoppers could team up with their friends and families on the platform to shopping groups, where all purchases were tallied together to unlock further special discounts for the whole group. 

The retailer reported almost 100,000 shopping groups being formed during the sale as a result, contributing to around 18% of sales.

INCENTIVIZING ACTION

Nike Plus
Nike Plus

Starbucks boasts one of the most successful retail apps to date with 23.5m active users. In order to encourage loyalty and get more customers to join its booming loyalty program that sits alongside (15m users), it launched a gamification experience called the Summer Game Boardwalk this year. 

Anyone could play the virtual board game, which prompted users to tap a spinner and advance steps in order to tally points, similar to a game of Monopoly. At the end, loyalty members received points towards their accounts, while general app users were prompted to join the program in order to receive the same.

Meanwhile this year NikePlus added a number of interactive experiences for its members, extending the remit of physical activity into wider lifestyles. Nike collaborated with three key partners to do so – Apple Music, mindfulness app Headspace, and gym booking app ClassPass, to encourage consumers to be active in order to receive more rewards. For example, if the user completed and logged a workout within the app, it would unlock free Apple Music playlists.

With this program, the sportswear brand is hoping to triple its 100m user membership number.

DRIVING IN-STORE ENGAGEMENT 

Inside the Philosophy skincare Manhattan store
Inside the Philosophy skincare Manhattan store

According to research company Bond, 95% of loyalty members want to engage with brands via new technologies. In-store, deploying digital tools is an opportunity for brands to engage and acquire new loyal customers at the point of sale, when demand is at its highest.

At Coty-owned make up brand Philosophy’s flagship in Manhattan, loyal customers are recognized and rewarded via facial recognition. Upon entering the store, customers are asked to take a selfie with their own phones and send it to a designated phone number. Registered customers can then be recognized on screens, which offers them special discounts. Over time, customers are pushed more tailored notifications and one-to-one consultants based on previous behavior.

Also in New York, is Nordstrom’s new menswear store, which is offering a higher level of service for its newly revamped Nordy Club loyalty program members. Customers shopping online can receive items to then try-on at that specific location. When physically approaching the store, customers receive an app notification giving them precise information on the location of their reserved item.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more.

Categories
Editor's pick Retail technology

Amazon Go has competition: Meet 6 other automated stores transforming retail

Amazon Go
Amazon Go

As consumers put more and more value on their time, it’s no surprise brick-and-mortar stores are increasingly relying on automation to speed up the shopping experience.

By 2021, Amazon Go plans to open 3,000 of its unmanned stores where customers will shop with no face-to-face interaction. It currently has three locations in Seattle, and a new store just opened in Chicago. Each one offers “Just Walk Out” shopping, powered by hundreds of cameras and sensors to record shoppers movements and purchases. To enter the store, customers scan their phone on a turnstile. Amazon says the stores don’t use facial recognition, just image recognition, which is cross-referenced with weight sensors on the shelves to understand which items have been grabbed.

But Amazon isn’t alone in this race to roll out unmanned doors. Three competing cashierless mini-markets launched within a month in San Francisco, including Standard Cognition, which actually beat them to opening. Meanwhile, on a global basis, they’re competing with everyone from China’s Alibaba to South Korea’s Lotte.

From facial recognition to palm-reading and payment via SMS, here are six further examples of automated stores we’re tracking:

Jack & Jones and Vero Moda

Jack & Jones

In China, facial recognition technology is so commonplace that you don’t need even a mobile phone to shop. Fashion retailers Jack & Jones and Vero Moda opened smart stores using this system in Shenzhen and Guangzhou. First, shoppers complete a facial recognition registration in-store that connects their face with WeChat Pay. At the exit, a digital kiosk reads their face and authorizes the payment. This technology, when combined with AI, helps boost sales; in the fitting room, the mirror also uses facial recognition to identify customers and recommend items based on their shopping history.

Hema

Alibaba’s Hema store

Alibaba also has its own cashierless grocery store, Hema. Launched in 2015, it’s expanded to 46 stores in 13 cities in China. At Hema, self-checkout kiosks use facial recognition to connect with Alipay, the company’s payment app, while digital screens display product details and dynamic prices that update automatically via Wifi-connected, e-ink price tags. In the next five years, Alibaba plans to expand Hema to 2,000 more branches.

Albert Heijn

Albert Heijn

Albert Heijn, a major supermarket chain in the Netherlands, has implemented technology to let customers scan and bag items as they shop more easily than ever. They have two checkout-free stores where customers can tap their phone or credit card on a shelf tag for the items they want. 10 minutes later, the customers’ bank accounts are debited for the amount they spent. If a shopper wants to put back an item, they reverse the chargers by tapping on the tag again.

Dirty Lemon

Dirty Lemon

Cult beverage brand Dirty Lemon made their way from online to real-life this summer. The company’s first store opened last month in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood. Shoppers pay via SMS, a heatmap tracker monitors the footsteps of people walking in and out, and RFID technology in the coolers keeps track of inventory. SMS payments isn’t new to Dirty Lemon’s shoppers – the website takes orders exclusively through mobile devices. To order, the customer has to link a credit card number to their phone, which makes it easy to restock by just texting.

Lotte

Lotte

South Korean mega group, Lotte, which owns the likes of Lotte Department Stores, introduced biometric verification of palm veins to its credit card Lotte Card, in partnership with Fujitsu. The result, HandPay, which aims to combat fraud, means users can literally just scan their own hand to pay for their items. Lotte has now begun installing self-registration for such technology at two 7-Eleven convenience stores in Seoul. Soon, the company plans to install these self-registers at all of its subsidiaries, including Lotte Department Stores, Lotterias, and Hi-Marts.

MobyMart

MobyMart

This one is still in prototype, but made the list for the way in which it’s innovating automated retail by putting it on wheels. MobyMart is an unstaffed, mobile grocery store from Swedish startup, Wheelys, that travels in a self-driving vehicle you can “hail” from an app. Payment works through RFID tags that are scanned via phone. There’s also image analysis to track inventory and collect data on customer behavior. For now, this is a beta project that has been running for six months on a university campus in Shanghai. Even though it might take some time for this prototype to hit the streets, the idea looks convenient, especially for remote areas.

How are you thinking about retail innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so.TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.