By Travis Priest, CEO, Sundrop Mobile
Card-based, POS-integrated loyalty programs have been around for several decades now, and little has changed in these programs since their inception. These card-based programs present numerous operational challenges for merchants: purchasing and maintaining plastic cards, convincing consumers to carry "just one more" loyalty card on their key chains or in their wallets, and collecting and matching customer profile data to the card numbers. Many card-based programs suffer from consumer fatigue – too many cards to carry – and ultimately yield very low participation rates. While these traditional programs have bolted on web-based registration and some marketing capabilities, such as the collection of email addresses or mobile numbers, the overall paradigm remains largely the same since these programs became popular.
Recently, however, the explosion in popularity of mobile phones and social media has breathed new life into these tired old programs. The ubiquity of mobile phones (e.g. two-way data communication devices) means that registration processes can be streamlined and while making it easier than ever for consumers to participate. By linking these mobile-based loyalty programs to social media, not only do these programs encourage a new level of social advocacy by a merchant's loyal customers, but they also provide a wealth of additional data by providing the loyalty marketer with access to their customers' social graphs.