Loyalty Should Be Simple -- It Should Be Mobile

The problem with loyalty is so disarmingly apparent, and the answer so simple, it's a wonder we're actually having this "conversation." To prove a point, mentally answer this. How many loyalty cards do you have? Now get on to the next questions: "How often do you use them?" I reckon the vast majority of readers will be in the camp where you get to the cash register, get asked for the card you know must be somewhere and then take a receipt in case you can ever be bothered to claim some points that you have never fully understood. What is a nectar point, can it buy me anything? How many Avios do i need to fly to Paris, but at a peak time when the kids are off school, not the middle of the night in January?

Therein lies the very easy-to-understand issue around loyalty. According to a Nielsen study, nearly nine in ten Brits own at least one card, yet only around a half of us would ever be swayed to shop with a store because of its loyalty offer. That puts the UK almost at the top of ownership and around the bottom of use. We've got the cards -- our wallets are stuffed with them -- but we haven't got a clue how or why we got them and we can't remember if there is any point to the points we may collect by revealing our shopping habits.

I bet you all a chunky Kit Kat that somewhere in your house there is a drawer full of library memberships, coffee cards just a few stamps away from a free espresso and countless store cards that you will put in your wallet next time you go to that store, if only you could remember.

Avios are a great example. They're basically Air Miles for BA and a few other carriers. There's a main site for the points, but mine are stored with BA. I haven't got a clue what they mean. If i can unlock the maze of BA's site, I can occasionally find the right page but then I get a total, not what the points mean to me. There's no "flight for two" suggestion to Europe or long haul for one. No slider showing that if I get just x more points by the summer, a pair of flights to a beach are mine. Instead, you play Battleships with the system to guess where you might be able to fly and then get confused by peak and off-peak timings as well as requests for cash top-ups and taxes. Honestly, they should do an A level in this subject. 

So we have the cards and the stores claiming a great success in their membership numbers only to find we don't actually use them -- so the whole thing is a bit pointless, quite literally. 

If only we had some device, some smart little thing that we kept in our pocket that could store all these cards electronically. Oh, hang on -- we do. Brands just choose to ignore it. They bombard us with offers to get their app to shop but why on earth not get us to add their loyalty card to our phone's "wallet." Why not prompt us to show our phone at the cash register, instead of a card we don't have on us? It would be so simple, wouldn't it? You may even be using your phone to pay, but even if it not, all you would need to do is put it near the card payment machine and the points would be added, coupons deducted and voucher codes for future visits downloaded.

Is it just me? Couldn't it just be this simple? I rather think Starbucks was having this conversation a year or so ago until it turned loyalty on its head by taking it mobile. Why more brands are not doing this is just a complete mystery to me. 

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