Retailers are missing a trick by not integrating mobile and loyalty

All the figures show that people are increasingly browsing and shopping on mobile, but retailers’ remain reluctant to tie up the high street, online and mobile experience and nowhere is this more apparent than in loyalty programmes.

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Last night I was at the launch of retail technology firm Micros’ annual multichannel retail report. There’s a lot of information in there on delivery options, flexibility and fulfilment.

The number of retailers offering click-and-collect is up, more retailers are offering next-day delivery and delivery charges are coming down. These are trends that we know are going on, although it’s nice to see them quantified.

However, it’s the mobile aspect that I found most interesting. The truth is that retail has been slower than almost any other industry to make use of the opportunity in mobile, particularly when it comes to loyalty schemes.

Micros’ research found that just one retailer has a loyalty scheme that works on its mobile app. That’s below the number that offer features such as augmented reality.

Looking at special offers, just 5 retailers use their mobile app to promote deals, down from 26 last year.

Any consumer that bothers to download a retailer’s mobile app is likely to be one of its biggest fans. There are thousands of retailers out there and millions of options of apps to download. I know that if I download a brand app, it’s because I’m hugely invested in the brand and want to know more.

I’d also quite like to be rewarded for that interest through deals and promotions or information on exclusive events and content. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Integrating loyalty into mobile would also be hugely convenient for both shops and their customers. No more having to send out paper coupons with the costs that incurs for the retailers. Instead a simple push notification.

For the customer, no more having to remember paper coupons and then embarrassingly get them out at the checkout and work out which ones are relevant. A quick swipe of the smartphone and my discounts are automatically applied.

This is loyalty nirvana, something that no retailer has hit upon yet. Mobile has the chance to revolutionise loyalty in the same way the Clubcard did all those years ago.

The first retailers to make the jump will be the ones to reap the rewards. It’s worth the investment for the improvement in brand perceptions and the new marketing opportunities it opens up.

When I read next year’s Micros report, I’ll be heading straight to the back pages to see who is innovating in mobile and loyalty. It would be great to see more than one name.

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