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Loyalty punchcard apps offer new way to reward customers

A local entrepreneur and founder of the popular marketing website BermyDeals has just launched an innovative new product designed help businesses on the Island grow and retain their customer base.

Bermuda Loyalty is the latest venture of Rachel Sawden. It’s a customisable marketing and customer loyalty system that gives local businesses their own smartphone app that lets them offer their customers rewards and incentives.

Customer loyalty reward programmes have long been known to increase repeat business, but Ms Sawden says with this new system, businesses no longer have to create, pass out, stamp or punch rewards cards.

And better yet, customers no longer have to clutter their wallets and purses with or worry about losing their punch cards — they can store them all right on their phone. The apps work on all types of mobile devices including iPhone, Android and BlackBerry and they are free to download.

“How it works is, each business gets their own app. The business also gets a loyalty website. So if customers go to the website on a computer, they can create an account and it shows them the app to download,” Ms Sawden said.

“Say, for example, a coffee shop is doing ‘buy five coffees get the sixth for free’. You can do that on the app,” she said. “You can also have multiple punch cards so they can have buy five coffees, get the sixth free and if they spend at least $10 on food, three time, they can get the next free or a free coffee or some other reward — it’s completely up to the business.”

To ‘punch’ a rewards card, customers just click punch on the app and then hand over their phone to a staff member who then ‘punches’ a hole in the virtual card by entering a 3-digit security code or scanning a QR code.

“If I’ve earned a free coffee reward — that is stored in the rewards section of the app. If I were going to use it, I click on the reward I want to use and once I hit redeem, I’ve got five minutes to show it to the business,” she said. “Show it to the person at the counter, they give you the free coffee and the reward wipes from your phone.”

Unlike traditional punch-card reward systems, Bermuda Loyalty also gives businesses the ability to build a customer e-mail database, reward customers for sharing activity with their business on social networks and track customer participation and demographics.

“Businesses can reward people for sharing exclusive deals on Facebook and Twitter. So, let’s say someone put the word out that a business does ten percent off on Mondays. It shows up on the app,” Ms Sawden said. “If I, as a consumer have the app and I share that deal on my Facebook, then I can get a reward for sharing that. So it’s up to the business if they want to reward people for sharing.”

There’s also an SMS function on the app, which allows apps to send out text messages about sales or promotions they’re running.

While she did not develop the technology herself, Ms Sawden says she’s purchased the licence to use it in Bermuda from a vendor she would not name. She says the programme is simple to use and easy to manage even for people who are not “technologically knowledgeable”.

“I want people to not be afraid of technology. The moment you say smartphone app, people’s eye glaze over and you see the fear in their eyes,” she said. “But it’s so simple — it’s incredibly user-friendly to use this.

“I can set it up for a business and on the business dashboard that each business gets, there are video tutorials on how to use everything. So if you can punch three numbers into a phone, you as a business can administer this app — even if you have no knowledge of technology — it is that simple.”

So far, Bermuda Loyalty apps are available for a handful of local businesses including Yoga with Ashley, Lush Makeup Lash and Brow Bar, Bliss Hair & Nails and Wanderlust Boutique — another one of Ms Sawden’s ventures. She says she hopes more businesses will see the value of the technology and add their app to the list.

Ms Sawden says it’s not enough just to have a website and a Facebook page anymore. She says mobile marketing is a must.

“A mobile presence is the new must-have in marketing,” she said. “I mean, walk down the street, walk into a restaurant — everybody’s on their phone. It increases top of mind awareness, makes it easier to contact customers.

“Customer loyalty is a known, proven way to increase revenue and give your customers an incentive to return to your business. It’s a way of directly marketing and rewarding people for sharing on Facebook among their friends.”

Businesses who want to get set up with a Bermuda Loyalty app can expect to pay a $199 set-up fee plus anywhere from $79 a month for the basic package to $249 a month for the unlimited plan. For the month of February, Ms Sawden is offering businesses a deal of $99 set-up and first month and $79 a month thereafter.

For information on how to sign up as a business, go to bermudaloyalty.com. To see retailers and businesses who already have apps, click “are you a consumer” at the top of the website.

Virtual Punchcard: Rachel Sawden, founder of Bermuda Loyalty, shows how the new customer loyalty app can work for yoga classes, coffee shops, spas and more. (Photo by Akil Simmons)

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Published February 07, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated February 06, 2013 at 8:22 pm)

Loyalty punchcard apps offer new way to reward customers

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