Smart cards are the ideal solution for any business considering starting up or upgrading its loyalty programme. They are affordable, easily branded, work offline and don’t need a high-cost system to operate. What’s more, they are simple to issue, secure and can be used for multiple purposes, such as a membership card, ID card or cashless payment card. Here are some of the main reasons why smart cards are the best option for loyalty programmes.
Why loyalty programmes are a good idea
Before considering why smart cards are the best solution for a loyalty programme, it’s important to consider the benefits of having a programme in the first place. The main reason for doing so is that it helps to generate the repeat business that is so crucial to a company’s long-term success.
According to the Harvard Business Review, it is estimated that the cost of acquiring a new customer is between five and twenty five times more expensive than retaining an existing one. Add to that that a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by 25% to 95% and it is easy to see the impact that a loyalty programme can have.
Why are loyalty programmes successful in generating repeat business? Because the rewards offered make customers feel valued and appreciated. This makes them loyal to the brand and that loyalty becomes a habit. At the same time, the deals and discounts offered to loyalty members are attractive to everyone’s desire to grab a bargain. In this sense, they are a temptation that many customers will take up if the opportunity is offered.
Why are smart cards a good solution?
For a loyalty programme to be effective, not only has it to benefit the consumer, it also has to have advantages for the business. Unfortunately, too many businesses in the past have developed loyalty programmes that are overly complex in nature, expensive to operate and burdensome to administer. Smart cards provide a way to simplify and streamline the process, making it more effective and efficient.
Smart card automation
One of the main advantages of using smart cards is that they employ technology that automates the programme’s administration. The NFC chip embedded into each card ensures that when it is scanned at the checkout, any new rewards points are added to the customer’s account and any existing rewards or discounts they wish to redeem are used up. And as loyalty scheme software can be integrated with POS, the entire process can be undertaken automatically by the IT system, completely negating the burden on staff. The wide availability of these integrated systems means that every business has the opportunity to make use of them.
The systems themselves are exceptionally sophisticated and make the launching of a loyalty card programme simpler than ever. Even more helpful is that they can be easily configured to fit any business’ specific loyalty offers. For example, gym members may get a month’s free membership for bringing a friend for a trial session; a garage may offer an automatic 10% discount on parts for its premium ‘gold membership’ scheme; and members of a fashion outlet programme may get sales discounts before they are offered to the general public.
Loyalty card readers
Aside from the smart cards and the software, the other key element of the membership card set up is the loyalty card reader, the hardware that connects with the NFC chip in the card and reads its data. It is this device that enables rewards to be given and redeemed. One of the benefits of NFC smart cards is that this can be done using contactless readers, in the same way that we use a contactless payment card. This process makes it even easier to link a sale transaction with the operation of a loyalty programme. Indeed, NFC readers can also be used with loyalty apps, fobs and even wearable devices, as well as cards. By using a combination of smart cards and contactless readers, such as those available from Universal Smart Cards, businesses are given numerous ways to administer their loyalty schemes, without having to purchase additional, expensive equipment.
A final benefit for businesses – and a significant one in today’s market – is the ability to use smart card loyalty programmes to generate rich data. Every purchase that a loyalty customer makes is logged, as is every reward they choose. Combine this with the personal data provided by the customer on registration and businesses have the ability to discover a wealth of information about their company, their customers and their rewards programme. This opens a wide range of possibilities for improving the business, making the reward scheme even more attractive and for personalised marketing opportunities.
Smart card solutions have huge potential for helping businesses develop their loyalty programmes. They make them easier and cheaper to administer, provide ease of use for customers and enable the company to use data to drive the business forward. In this way, they are the ultimate tool for maintaining customer loyalty and increasing repeat business.