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Created by the airline industry and perfected by retailers, loyalty reward programs are ubiquitous. The problem is, those cards from gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, gyms and other establishments are busting the seams of customer wallets — and aren’t being used. More than 50 percent of current loyalty cards are inactive, according to the National Center for Data Mining.

To combat that loss of loyalty behavior, retailers are adopting in-store iPad stations to gather marketing data. Under their own volition and without solicitation, consumers input information at the point of sale.

“In the initial survey, what we often ask for is marketing contact data,” says Randy McCoy, CEO of GetOne Rewards, a technology firm specializing in digital loyalty programs. “Every time [customers] come to the retail environment and purchase something, they just enter their phone number on the iPad and get credit for that visit.”

In order to receive the loyalty points, consumers disclose their shopping behavior, indicating when they shop and how often; responses to survey questions are a source of bonus information.

“We’re really building a customer relationship management system,” McCoy says.

Investing in loyalty

Blush Kennesaw, an apparel and accessories boutique in the Atlanta area, uses the GetOne system to reach its 19- to 35-year-old female customer base. The store offers a $5 coupon with every $100 spent.

“Most boutiques that I know of don’t offer anything like that,” says Ana Condit Corbett, owner of Blush Kennesaw. “GetOne also sends out an automated e-mail for 10 percent off if [customers] haven’t logged in in the past 45 days, and a birthday coupon for the customer’s birthday month. We are constantly seeing these customers coming in with these coupons, so we know it’s working.”

According to a Gartner Group report, 80 percent of retail profits come from just 20 percent of a retailer’s existing customer base, making customer loyalty crucial to success. What’s more, increasing customer retention rates by just 5 percent increases profits anywhere from 25 to 95 percent, according to figures cited by Harvard Business School researchers.

“If you take care of your best customers, your existing customers can be grown a lot,” McCoy says. “Investing in loyalty is the best kind of marketing investment. It’s far less expensive than trying to gain a new customer.”

Automated marketing

GetOne’s turnkey automated marketing system constantly evaluates existing customers and manages new clients and e-mails, allowing retailers to view all available data. “We handle it all,” McCoy says. “The minute the iPad goes in the store … an automated marketing environment starts happening.”

Recently securing $2.5 million in investor capital, GetOne works with more than 300 clients from independent retail stores like Blush Kennesaw to fast-casual restaurants like Denny’s. “GetOne specializes much more in e-mail and in app-based marketing programs. And we’re the only person that can survey and collect additional … merchant data about the customer,” says McCoy. “We really position ourselves more as an automated relationship management system with a loyalty feature.”

The automation is probably the greatest selling point for Blush. Corbett says GetOne works better than most loyalty programs because it does not involve another loyalty card to bulk up a wallet or congest a keychain.

“Customers love that all they have to do is remember their number,” Corbett says. “It doesn’t get much simpler than that.”