If change is needed, he says, it can simply add the relevant coalition partner to the programme. For example, when ecommerce entered the scene, Fly Buys was able to get across that trend by partnering with pureplay businesses through its “e-store” initiative, which has been running since 2009. Among the e-store partners are Hotels.com, Mytax.co.nz and Clearly.co.nz.
England-Hall says the addition of these sites increases customer choice, saying changes of this kind are governed by market conditions.
There’s a gap in the New Zealand market when it comes to retailers heading online with ecommerce offerings, England-Hall thinks. He says that, although loyalty programmes are about influencing customer behaviour, they can’t change the fundamentals of how consumers behave in the real world.
“Loyalty is not going to save you if you don’t have a good multichannel retail strategy.”
As well as incorporating ecommerce retailers, Fly Buys has moved towards having its mobile app replace the traditional card. Loyalty NZ has a long-term plan to be an integrated part of the digital wallet experience – where payments, loyalty, and preferences are all accessed, controlled and managed through mobile devices.
The first step is improving the functionality of the Fly Buys app, adding features like a virtual card customers can scan in some stores as well as targeted personalised offers and deals. When the user turns their phone on its side, the app can bring up a digital version of the card.
However, England-Hall is realistic about the timeframes involved with the project.
‘So many of our customers are used to presenting their plastic card and a lot of retailers point of sale systems only support a customer physically swiping in store – so we are a long way off the app being the preferred way to engage with the programme.
He won’t reveal how many downloads the app has had, but says the uptake doubled over 10 weeks after the stars of TV1’s ‘Our First Home’ were shown using it.
“Apps are tricky as they really have to be used every day,” England-Hall says. “I would say it’s not there yet, we’ve got a long way to go, but we’re doing a lot of work in that space.”
England-Hall sees mobile’s role as improving the ‘real’ shopping experience rather than creating a separate mobile-only experience.
“Where it really comes into its own is in conjunction with foot traffic to real bricks and mortar stores. If a customer gets a beacon driven notification of a great, relevant offer when they are in the vicinity of the store, then that is going to be quite powerful.”
He acknowledges the role of loyalty programmes in collecting data on their users, saying Fly Buys treats its customer data with the utmost respect. England-Hall says it uses the data to improve customer experiences, improve the quality of offers, and give clients intelligence about what customers want (without revealing individuals’ identities).
“The liquidity of data in the retail environment will play an increasing role in improving customer experiences, as well as improving store performance.”
Alongside Fly Buys, Loyalty NZ also owns Lab360, a full-service data and analytics business that helps businesses learn more about their customers and their markets.
England-Hall believes that essentially, the winning combination is finding the right channel for the right person at the right time. Targeting customers with a data driven proposition, through the channel of their choice, and using that channel to its full effect, get results.