The latest twist, being launched today, is a technology solution that lets consumers use their existing credit and debit cards as multipurpose loyalty cards and also enables merchants to generate on-the-spot, transaction history-based promotional offers or rewards.
By allowing real-time payment and loyalty program identification in a single transaction, Chockstone Inc.'s SingleSwipe program addresses the hassle of having to carry around numerous cards, eliminates reward payment processing lags, and lets businesses change customers' behavior by giving them savings coupons or targeted offers while they're still at the cash register, says Chockstone CEO Jeff Lipp.
Other programs allow registering a credit card to earn discounts or points at a network of merchants, but rewards accrue on a periodic basis, such as on the month-end statement, rather than at point of sale.
Any branded card that is accepted by a merchant--including American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa--can be used for SingleSwipe. Cardholders register with specific merchants to be able to use their credit/debit cards as loyalty cards.
Chockstone, which provides turnkey solutions for merchants to design and launch targeted point-of-sale promotions through a Web-based campaign management tool, maintains and processes all SingleSwipe data through its network and platform. Its restaurant-chain clients--including Subway, Brinker International (parent of Chili's), Tully's Coffee Corporation, Boston Market, Plaid Pantry, CC's and others--collectively have 46,000 outlets in North America.
In addition to encouraging program usage, restaurants are pleased at the prospect of giving consumers a reason to pull out a credit card, since it's documented that consumers spend about 20% more when they use cards instead of cash, according to Lipp.
SingleSwipe also promises loyalty program operational streamlining and cost savings for merchants--and greater "stickiness" for credit card issuers. (The theory is that once they've got several loyalty programs on a credit card, people won't want to drop or switch cards.)
Martin Walker, VP of marketing and merchandising for Tully's, says that the chain is "pretty happy" with the usage level of its Tully's customer loyalty card, but sees a major benefit in being able to use SingleSwipe to offer Tully's rewards to the much larger number of customers who use their credit cards to pay for food. That means being able to "easily encourage guests to try new products and reward our most loyal customers with even more cost savings," he says.
"With the explosion of gift cards, we're conscious that at some point, people are going to start leaving these at home," Walker stresses. "But they're not going to leave their general credit card at home."