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Automatic Point Expiry Is Now Available

One of the biggest requests we have is for the ability to expire points automatically. The reasons why points might need to expire vary from business to business: some offer tiered discounts based on the number of points earned in a given year and need the accounts reset on January 1, some simply don’t want to be exposed to large outstanding balances and want the points to expire a set period of time after they are issued, and most simply want to encourage people to return regularly to earn new points to reach a target before the existing points expire. In all these cases the business does not want to have to go through each account manually to calculate when and how many points to expire.
We’ve been working on the best way to automate the process and have tried a number of options. The technical aspect proved difficult but it also proved more difficult than expected to get the whole system working as a whole as it affected a number of different areas. However these have now been resolved and, after some significant testing I’m happy to announce we have an elegant and simple function that lets you specify the expiry criteria for your points.

The Process

The new process works on a monthly basis. You can specify either the month every year when points will expire or  the number of full months for which points remain active after they are awarded. At the end of every month the system will look at each card and calculate how many points to expire at that time. It will then redeem that number of points from the account. At the same time it will calculate the number of points due to expire at the end of the following month. This number is then updated at every transaction throughout the month. At the end of the following month the process will repeat.

The Mechanics

The setting for the Automatic Point Expiry can be found under Operations/point actions.

Setting Point Expiry Criteria

Here you have 3 options:

  • Points never expire.
  • Points expire on a specific date. You will be presented with the ability to select on which month they expire. Remember that points expire at the end of a month so if you want all accounts to go into a new year with a reset balance you select December as the expiry option for Set Date.
  • Points expire a set time after being awarded. The number of months you set are full months and so do not count  the month in which the points are awarded. So if you want points issued in January to expire at the end of March you choose 2 as the period (February and March being the 2 in question).

You simply set the selection that meets your needs and you can forget about it after that. The system will do the rest.

There are 2 points to take note of;

  • You can change the criteria and timing of point expiry at any time. However you cannot do so in a way that will immediately cause points to expire. Instead we will recalculate the number of points to expire at the end of the month and this will include any points which under your new rules would already have expired.
  • All points are taken into account in the calculation. This includes any default points you may have put on cards when you received them. If you have not issued the cards within the set time those points will no longer be on the card when the customer receives them.

Tracking Expirations


The Statistics Dashboard has been updated to include the expiring points in the graphs and you can also search for them in the Transaction Filter and download them in the Excel export.

Statistics Graph with Point Expiration

Graphs now show point expirations

Selecting point expiration for review

Selecting point expirations for review


It’s not a lot of use having expiring points if the customer is unaware of when they expire so we have integrated this information into their data. The cardholder will now see the number of points due to expire along side their balance for each card. This will update throughout the month as required. For instance if all points reset at the end of the month then every transaction will be reflected and the expiring points will equal the balance for the full month. However if points expire after specified period of time then only redemptions during the month will be reflected and the number of expiring points will reduce accordingly.

Showing Points Due To Expire

Why this process?

We decided on a monthly process because it is the one most liked by customers and so benefits business more than any other option…

  • Customers are happier if they know points expire at the end of the month rather than having a   balance that can change every day
  • Cardholders can plan in advance to visit the business to use expiring points, something that would not be possible if the expiration balance changed every day.
  • Points awarded early in a month will be live for longer than those awarded at the end. This gives customers a feeling that they are gaining something extra by shopping early in the month.

Automatic Point Expiration is a major function that will be of use to almost all businesses. It’s one of a number of major functional upgrades coming in the following weeks. Let me know what you think and if there are any functions you particularly want added.


FastSwitching and some minor improvements

I want to highlight a new feature and some minor changes to the functionality of which are designed to make it easier to operate on a daily basis.


FastSwitching is new functionality that allows day-to-day use to operate faster. For people using scanners or keyboards the previous method forced them to change to a mouse and select a new function when required. So if they were awarding points and the next customer needed to redeem them the user had to put down the scanner or keyboard, pick the mouse, click on the Redeem Points link,  Redeem the points and then use the mouse to return to the Award Points screen.

FastSwitching removes this need by allowing 1-3 letter codes to be typed or scanned in order to switch screen.

Each of the 5 Card Action Screens has its own code

Authorise Card au
Register Card reg
Award Points a
Redeem Points r
Search s

Simply type the code into the card serial number box on any of the above pages and hit return. The codes can be entered in any combination of uppercase and lowercase. We have also prepared some barcodes which can be scanned and these are available for download in the new Resources section outlined below.

Default Pages Improvement

Not so long ago we introduced the ability to set the default page that would be selected when you complete an action such as awarding points. It was possible to select from any of the 5 Card Action pages: Authorise Card, Register Card, Award Points, Redeem Points, Search. One option we did not include was Return To The Same Page. This oversight has now been corrected and it is possible to have the system return to the same action page. So if you want to redeem points for a few customers followed by awarding some for a number of others you won’t have to continually switch around.

This option is available under Operations/misc defaults.

Resources Area

Prior to today the only resource available was the User Manual and this was listed separately on the main menu. We have now replaced this link with a Resources one which will bring you to a new section intended for future additions. It currently contains the user manual and some other general information designed to help you make the best use of your Reward Program. I intend adding additional items here, including widgets and code snippets you can incorporate in your own website.

New Chart

We have added a new chart to the Statistics Dashboard. This shows the total points issued and redeemed in the premises. It lets you see the points outstanding at a glance.

I hope you find these additions to be of use. Apart from FastSwitching they are minor improvements rather than major changes. But I have been working towards introducing some major functionality and hope to have some announcements soon.

Maps and Locations

One of the key requirements for any business is to tell people about you…and to let them know how to find you! has provided the ability to describe your business and your Reward Program for some time. You have a unique URL which you can provide to people on card, in literature, or on other web links. Recently we added a map to this businessdetails page as shown here…

We have tried to automate the placing of businesses based upon the address. This works ok but is not always as accurate as we (or you) might like. Today we’re improving the service by launched the ability for you to place the location yourself or to fine-tune our attempts.

This feature is available on the directory edit page (Under the Communication section) where you can already enter your business description and the details of your reward program. There you will see the current location we have and can click on that map to show  larger interactive version. Simply drag the marker to your business and click save.  You can zoom in and out of the map and can switch between a map and a satellite view to help you place the marker accurately.

Changing your location marker

This is a simple operation but one that can help you better display your business to visitors and help them find you.

Protecting Your Data In A Crisis

According to a report in The Sunday Tribune of November 29 half of all businesses which lost computer data in the recent floods will end up going out of business. While the article doesn’t mention the number of businesses affected it does highlight the issue of disaster recovery for digital data. Not all businesses keep regular backups of their data and even fewer keep those backups outside their offices.

Sunday Tribune Article

The loss of Loyalty records might not be as serious as losing your accounts but it can still lead to bad feeling from your customers. The automatic protection of this information is another advantage of A system you host yourself requires that you are responsible for regular backups and storing them in a secure location. however is not only operated on a cloud cluster with built in redundancy but also makes externally-stored backups twice a day and then archives these on a weekly basis. This peace of mind is an integrated part of our service and is included in the low annual cost.

Stamped Cards

The most common Loyalty Card implementation in Ireland is the “Stamped Card.”  This is the the cardboard card which the retailer stamps after every purchase and which entitles you to a free item when all the stamps are completed. While this is most common in coffee shops they are also used in various other businesses.

The reason stamped cards are used so widely is primarily because of the benefits they bring but also because of the difficulty and cost of a technological solution. We will address the benefits of a technological solution later but for now lets look at the stamped card on their own terms.


The Benefits

Stamped cards have some very strong benefits for a business;

  • Speed: Implementing a stamped cards system is very quick. Just decide the terms of the program – what the points are given for and what you get back. Make a final decision on the design, print the cards and distribute them.
  • Branding: A stamped card is allows a business to brand itself easily and cheaply.
  • Flexibility: It’s easy to change the terms of the program, for instance to include another product
  • Cost: Each card is cheap itself (though this is partly offset by the large numbers required)
  • Simplicity: This program is simple for the customer to understand and for staff to implement.
  • Value Checking: Stamped cards contain their own built-in point display that lets a customer know exactly how many points he has and how many he needs to get his reward.


The Downsides:

The downsides to the Stamped Card exist not in their own terms but in comparison to the greater benefits  offered by alternatives.

  • Lost Points: Stamped cards are seen as disposable items whose points are lost if the card is lost. Because of this they have minimal influence on customers who often forget to bring the card with them or leave them in their pocket during the wash.
  • Lack of Customer Data: A stamped card goes out the door and you never know anything about the customer. You canʼt tell if they use it again, how many cards that person takes, how long between uses or any of the other information that would help you run your business more effectively.
  • Business Image: Cardboard cards are instantly forgettable. Yes they are branded but because they are so common people tend to forget them and because they are simply cardboard they tend to go into a  pocket where they are squashed and crushed. Other media such as plastic cards project a better image and are also retained for longer.
  • Flexibility: Points can only be awarded in multiples on a stamped card. This limits your ability to fine-tune your program so that it gives different ranges of points to different products or time of day.
  • Cost: Cardboard cards are individually cheaper than the high quality plastic cards. However the churn rate is high which requires the re-issuing of multiple cards and, because they don’t collect any data they become a cost rather than a benefit for the business.
  • Forgotten Cards: Because the card is the only membership identification in a stamped-card scheme they must be shown by customers when they visit. There is no facility to use name, phone number or email to award or redeem points.



Stamped cards have a place and, for many businesses, they are the ideal option. However their limitations  do eventually come to inhibit a lot of their users. What happens then is that the cards are left at the end of the till but they are not promoted or changed and the whole program grows stale for both business and customers. More advanced systems such as those provided by can overcome these problems as we will see at a later date.

The 4 key design parameters of was developed to help independent businesses, chains and groups implement professional reward programs cost-effectively. It had become clear to us that Reward Programs fell into two categories: the comprehensive, detailed and expensive versions operated by the likes of Tesco and the basic stamped-card type (operated most visibly by coffee shops).

Stamped Cards are the most commonly available Loyalty System in Ireland for a number of reasons: they are cheap, easy to understand, and quick to administer. Any solution we developed had to meet these criteria but also do more.

It quickly became apparent that any solution had to do four basic things;

Brand the Business

A business is its name and we had to design a service that acknowledged this. After all no business wants to promote us when they can promote themselves. For this reason is low key in both its look and operation. The business issues their own card with their own design and is simply a central place to manage their points. In this way the cardholder carries the business in their wallets. They know which businesses offer them Rewards and they have an address and other contact information handy if ever asked to recommend a place.

Be Simple and Flexible

We wanted the system to be simple and available to everyone so we designed it to require no special hardware and to ensure that there was no software to download or keep updated. The business can choose many different ways to operate the system, from scanning barcodes to manually entering card numbers. The system can be run through any browser and there is no time or complexity involved in expanding the number of terminals in use.

This simplicity and flexibility extends to the customer side. Not everyone in Ireland is comfortable with the Internet or has an email address. gives these customers the opportunity to use phone numbers to activate their account…and those who are not comfortable with the internet can even have their account created instore. Even better, if they have already created an account it is a 5-second job to register a new card to it. And if they have a group card (such as one from a town) they only need to carry one card to access programs from multiple different businesses.

Be Cost-effective

From the outset we knew that we wanted the benefits of a professional reward program to be available to all businesses, large or small, stand-alone or part of a chain. This meant keeping costs as low as possible and led directly to our central management design. By centrally hosting the software we can make the service available to all businesses, chains, or groups without having to customize each installation. As a result of this central management we can keep our costs  – and price – low.

Not only is the price kept low enough that the normal benefits of a Reward Program quickly allow the system to pay for itself but it also helps reduce costs by providing data that allows more efficient and targeted use of advertising budgets. The range of reports allows the business to see where the customers come from, how often and in what patterns they visit and to use this and other information to target  advertising. You can also see what advertising results in visits from lapsed customer and which brings in new ones, and which results in single-visit customer and which generates repeat visits.

Being able to target the advertising not only to groups but to individuals  is the most cost-effective marketing solution available and not only generates business but reduces costs.

Bring Benefits to Customers

A system that only brings benefits to businesses is not much use. It also needs to bring benefits to customers if it is to be successful. was designed to do this. As mentioned above it is possible for those who already have a account to register cards from multiple businesses in seconds. They can also manage all these cards in one place. This includes seeing their points balance and transaction history. This reduces the friction involved in accepting a new card, making it more convenient and likely that they will accept yours.

Once they have registered their cards your customers can also be reassured that their points are safe even if they lose their card. Not only can they transfer points from lost cards to new ones but crucially (and, as far as we know, uniquely to they can protect the points even before they get  replacement! They simply ‘suspend’ the card and then collect a replacement in their own time.

These are the four basic ideas we knew must satisfy. The served we offer now does not only this but much more. We’ll go into detail about the features we have in later posts as well as outlining the simple things that go to make a successful Reward Program.


reward programs and quick fixes

With the new year many businesses are considering ways to improve their profitability. Reward Programs of all types are among the most effective ways to do so both in terms of cost and results. Many businesses will look at implementing them for the first time and a large portion will be expecting immediate results. The belief that simply implementing a program will result in success is a common one that leads to many abandoned efforts. Because of this belief a majority of businesses implement a program and sit back expecting results without any further tuning or promotion.
A successful Reward Program may not be an instant fix but neither does it require a lot of work. All it needs is some promotion and monitoring. From our experience with businesses we have identified 5 simple things that a business can do to make their program a success:

1. Define

A Reward Program does not have to be complex but is most effective if you have a clear idea of what you are trying to achieve: is it to increase awareness of your brand, compile a mailing list, get your brand on the street, encourage the sale of more profitable items? Or is it all those and more?

Knowing what you are trying to achieve with your program will help you decide the following:

  • which type of program to install (a simple stamped crd or more complex information gathering system)
  • where and how to assign points ( per transaction or per profitability of the product)
  • whether to use someone else brand or your own

2. Simplify

It is possible to come up with complex points and reward schemes that graduate the reward people get according to every action. This will confuse both you and your customer, and while there is nothing wrong with special offers to promote specific products (such as 50% more points on a specific day or bottle of wine) the general rule, as with most things, is Keep It Simple.

3. Communicate

You cannot expect a customer to see the cards you provide, or to understand what you are offering them without explanation. Communication about the program is essential. The simplest and most effective way is to have your staff ask every customer if they have a card and offer to provide them with one if they don’t – while also explaining how it works. The next most important action is to provide some information on the program along with the card – a simple A3 sheet or brochure gives the customer something to read and allows them to see what is in the program for them without feeling like a fool by asking staff again.

4. Repeat

As the most successful users of Loyalty Programs have discovered, repetition is important. You and your staff must ask every customer if they have a card – and do so for every transaction. This will create awareness – leading to a higher uptake on the cards themselves – and will also ensure that regular customers use the cards rather than leaving them in their wallets. Not everyone is comfortable asking for points, especially on low value transactions, and the fact you offer the points is welcomed by the customer.

5. Review

Situations change and if they do your program needs to change along with them. A review of your program and how it operates should be an important part of your business review, especially in the early days when you need to tweak the points system. But even when you have a system you are happy with you should review it on a regular basis to ensure it is working as you want and achieving what you need. This will include reviewing customer usage, points, and if staff are still asking customers if they have a card.

A review does not have to be a lengthy process and twice a year is more than enough.

These are simple steps but following them can dramatically improve the performance of any Reward Program.