Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Difficulties Of Keeping Business Local

Some of you might have seen David McWilliams column in last Wednesdays Irish Independent. In it he discusses the crisis facing small towns throughout the country as they see business move away leading to closure of local businesses which in turn causes more money to transfer to cities and a slow death spiral for the town and community. Seemingly 10 businesses have closed in Dalkey alone in the last year and this week the traders there got together to try and find a way to reverse the trend. was originally designed to allow towns and communities to address this problem. The idea was that, in addition to individual businesses issuing Reward Card, whole towns could do so as well. These would be branded by the town and would be accepted in every business that wished to participate. Unlike other schemes the points would not be pooled but would be valid only in the business where they were earned. In this way each business can design a program that best suits their and their customers needs. The town gets branding and residents need only one card to access multiple different Reward Programs while also being able to manage these from one place online. It seemed like a win-win-win situation all round.
Unfortunately I’ve discovered that not all communities are as forward-thinking as Dalkey. I’ve approached multiple different Chambers of Commerce over the last few months. The number that did not even respond has amazed me. Of those I did meet the response was positive but there was another problem: committee-itis. The decision making process has proven to be long and drawn-out with committees and sub-committees galore.
Eventually I realised that for all the talk businesses have about economic problems the majority won’t make the effort to try anything outside their comfort zone. And we went back to the drawing board.
For the last few weeks we have been working on a new concept using the same state of the art infrastructure we developed for This will be launching in mid-April and will address the exact needs outlined by David in his article. It will remove the need for committees to agree on every aspect of a decision and will help local communities, businesses and residents. The last elements are being finalised now and I expect to be in a position to let you know exactly what it is at the end of April. In the meantime if you think a Reward Card for your community or town is something that you want to investigate contact us at


Rewards: Types and Methods

We spoke last time about the block many businesses have in defining a point system. We also highlighted the main aspects to consider in doing this. I’d like to take a little time to discuss the principles behind the main ways these are implemented before going on in later posts to give specific examples.

Reward Types
There are two main types of Rewards you can give to customers: a discount (or cash) or a free product.

  • Discounts: Discounts can be redeemed for points or can be flat after a certain number of points have been reached. The discount can also be percentage based (10%) or cash based (€5).
    Examples of the first are when a person is entitled to a 10% discount from their next purchase when they reach 100 points. The points are then deducted and they start earning to gain the next discount.
    The alternative to this is to award people a constant discount once they have reached a point level. For instance a person earning 1,000 points is entitled to a 2% discount on every purchase for the rest of the year. Once they reach 5,000 points they are entitled to a 5% discount on every purchase and so on.
    The main difference between these two models is in the expiry of the points. In the first points are deducted after every use while in the latter the points are cumulative and reset every period (usually a year). This in turn dictates the level at which the discounts are earned.
  • Free Products: The other most common method of providing rewards is to provide the customer with a specific product when making a purchase. For instance a restaurant providing a free bottle of wine with dinner for 2. This invariably involves the deduction of those points from the customers account.
  • Reward Methods
    A business typically chooses one of two methods for redeeming points.

  • On Purchase: The most common method involves the customer presenting their card at the time of purchase and the points being deducted at that stage. This is the most efficient method and involves the least amount of administrative work.
  • Voucher: It is possible to issue vouchers to customers at intervals based upon their points balance. This is administratively cumbersome and is only suitable for the discount method of reward. The advantage is in the marketing result – the arrival of the voucher creates a renewed awareness of the business and the vouchers themselves seem more real and valuable to the customer than points.
  • Innovation
    These are the most common methods used and are a good starting point to designing the Reward program. Once they have the basics up and running a business can slowly refine and customise it (while bearing in mind the rules such as keeping it simple, discussed previously).
    Even within these four methods however it is possible to be innovative. For instance two or more business can agree to provide discounts to each others businesses instead of or in addition to their own. Both businesses gain from the marketing benefit and the possibility of new customers. Of course they have to agree in advance the redemption level in order not to be caught giving away too many discounts.