I recently told you that we were working on a new voucher system for myrewardcard.ie. This new functionality is intended to do a number of things; allow businesses without internet access to run an advanced Loyalty program; allow you to assess your advertising channels; allow promotions and competitions and more. Today we are launching the first element of this and I wanted to let you know how it will work, what can be done, and the plans for future development. That’s a lot of stuff to cover so let me start with what the additions we are adding today can do for you.
Vouchers are a simple concept: each one has a code that contains a value and when entered into myrewardcard.ie the value is applied to the card. We will be adding an option to redeem these codes within the business but what we are releasing today is the ability to have the customer redeem the vouchers by themselves at home. So what can you do with it?
Self-Service Loyalty Program
Businesses that do not have an internet connection in their store can now operate their own advanced Reward Program either as a stand-alone function or as part of a town card. All they need to do is to print a range of vouchers and, when a customer has made a qualifying purchase (spent €50 or more for example) the staff hands one of the vouchers to the customer. The customer then enters it at home to collect their points. Of course if a business does not have an internet connection they cannot redeem points directly so they will need to run a report every month and post out discount vouchers in the same way that Dunnes Stores do.
Since the product purchased can no longer be recorded the business loses some information that an internet connection allows but this allows businesses who do not have the equipment in-store to offer their customers the advanced points-based loyalty programs they prefer. These businesses include not only retailers but also taxis, plumbers, market stall holders and others
Because vouchers can have different values it is now simple to create some excitement amongst your customers. You can easily have vouchers that guarantee customers 10 points – and mixed in among them have 5 that have a prize. This prize could be anything from merchandise to an entry in a draw or cash. When the customer redeems the voucher online they will be instantly told what they have won and can then contact you to collect the prize. This instant-win aspect makes it exciting and gets customers talking – all of which helps promote the business. It allows you to promote certain lines of goods, encourage custom at quiet times or just generate some excitement a few times a year.
A Reward program is not an instant fix for a business. What it is is a long-term investment that increases in value as time passes and data collects in the database. However a lot of businesses with an existing mailing list like to try and jump start their program by posting cards to customers. In general the number of registrations received this way is not high – only when you get in the habit of asking people if they have a card can you be sure of building your database. However the registrations from a posting can be increased with vouchers.
You can create a promotion such as outlined above and include both a voucher and description with the card. Someone receiving this knows that they will be guaranteed some points by registering – but because they can also win a significant launch prize they will be even more enthusiastic about the fact. Not only will a properly designed and explained launch program increase the registrations but it will also get people talking.
Existing clients can now monitor the effectiveness of their different advertising channels. The problem with advertising of course is that you can never be sure which channel actually works. You put the same advert in two different papers and get results – but equally from each or is one a waste of time? By printing a different voucher code in each paper you can now encourage people to register the code and get additional Reward Points. Later you can see which one had the greatest response overall or amongst specific demographics and focus your future advertising there, saving you money.
Secure Gift Card Top-ups
Cash Cards are often used as Gift Cards. By having vouchers in specific values you can now make it easy for relatives to give gift vouchers that are added to the recipients existing Gift Cards. If the recipient doesn’t have a Gift card you can provide one at the time. The other benefit is that you can cancel a stolen voucher or even manually track who you issued vouchers to and double check this against the recipient.
There are other uses of self-service vouchers such as fundraising opportunities and community cards but these are some of the highlights for an individual business. The question now is how do the vouchers actually operate?
While vouchers are a simple concept, we have designed our system to be flexible and comprehensive, with each individual voucher having a range of controls.
– Start and Expiry Dates: vouchers will automatically be refused outside of this date range.
– Card Type: Vouchers must specify if they are valid for Cash Cards or Reward Cards. This prevents what is intended to be 50 points instead giving 50 Euro.
– Place of Use: At the moment we are only allowing vouchers to be redeemed by the user themselves. In the next few weeks we will activate a function to allow you to redeem the vouchers in store. This opens up a new range of uses which we will discuss at that time.
– Total Uses: A vouchers can be used once or multiple times. Most vouchers you issue will only need to be used once but if tracking advertising for instance, you will not want to print a different code on every newspaper. In this case a single voucher per advert is used and you can set this to a maximum of 10,000 or more uses.
– Uses per Customer: In addition to total uses you can set a limit to the number of times a single account holder can use the voucher. Again this is most likely to be 1 but under some circumstances it may be more. This is more likely to be greater than one when we release the in-store redemption feature.
In addition to these overall controls each voucher can also have a range of values. These specify the message to be shown and the value to be awarded and they specify which businesses the specific set applies to. By including multiple values on a voucher we have ensured maximum flexibility – so some vouchers can have 10 points while others have 10 points plus a message letting the recipient know they own a prize. These are recorded as individual transactions in the database, making it easy to identify prize winners.
Customer Activation Process
Customers receiving a voucher must have a registered card before they can redeem the voucher itself. Once they have done so they will now see a new button on their detail page. Once they click this button they will be given some instructions and the space to enter the voucher code. If the voucher meets the criteria set such as usage and valid dates then the values are awarded and the voucher details are displayed for the customer in the way show at the top of this post. Both the business and customer can then see the voucher number and the details in the transaction history. This allows businesses to run reports on specific voucher usage.
I’ve spent some time on trying to get the pricing low. I wanted to keep this free for the majority of businesses but given the computational and database requirements involved I needed a system that ensures overuse does not lose money. The compromise I’ve settled on is that each business that uses myrewardcard.ie for their Reward Programs can will have 10,000 vouchers or redemptions (whichever is largest) per calendar year. What does this mean in practice?
A business can issue 10,000 unique vouchers in a year free of charge, allowing a sole trader to issue 38 vouchers to customers every work day. Alternatively a single voucher can be redeemed by 10,000 individual customers soa business can run 10 adverts each of which get 1,000 actual responses. Or you can mix them and have 5,000 unique vouchers and 1 that is redeemed by 5,000 people. The first 10,000 in a calendar year are free of charge. For those who do exceed these they can then obtain extra on a pay-per-use basis of just 1 cent per voucher/usage, allowing you to control costs. This means a further 10,000 vouchers/uses for just €100.
I think under these conditions the majority of businesses will pay nothing for their vouchers and the minority that do will not pay more than €100/year. It is the fairest method I could devise that meant I could continue to offer this service without risking large losses.
Allowances cannot be carried forward to the next year, but this means that your full 2011allowance is now available for use in the next 6 months.
As we are rolling this service out in stages there is currently no direct way to create your own vouchers. I want to see how they are used before settling on a final interface for that aspect. If you want vouchers drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
with your requirements. I’ll get back to you quickly with any questions or clarifications and generate a spreadsheet of codes for you which you can distribute in any way you wish. Similarly if you have any questions please drop a line.
I am excited about this element of myrewardcard.ie. I think it’s going to be one of the big innovations on the platform and one that can change how you use your Reward Programs as well as opening the service to many new businesses. I will be monitoring it carefully over the next few weeks and will let you know when the next stage is implemented.