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Q&A: Bink on a new-age loyalty

1. Do customers still collect loyalty points?

Customers absolutely still collect loyalty points. As ever, shoppers want to be loyal and collect points and rewards with their favourite brands, but they need the process to better complement their 21st Century lifestyle.

Digital-first, payment-linked loyalty is the future. A recent study found 92% of consumers use loyalty schemes at least once a month, however, over 30% admit they often forget to bring their loyalty cards with them.

2. Why is a points-based loyalty scheme still important for retailers?

Points-based loyalty retains huge clout in attracting new customers and, most importantly, retaining them. As retail marketing expands and develops, points-based loyalty consistently stands the test of time in giving the customer an easily understandable reward hierarchy.  

3. Why is the current loyalty card solution adopted by many retailers no longer fit for purpose?

Firstly, it’s bad for the environment, there are 3.3 billion plastic loyalty cards in the United States alone, with each taking 450 years to break down. Like plastic shopping bags, plastic loyalty cards are on their way out.

Secondly, shopping habits have changed. With consumers enjoying more choice than ever, brands and their loyalty programs must stand out from the crowd.

4. Isn't there an app for loyalty now-a-days?

Bink is a true world-first, putting customer experience back at the heart of loyalty. The closest offerings are ‘digital wallets’ for loyalty, (also referred to as ‘e-wallets’, or ‘mobile wallets’). Unlike Bink, these brands still require the shopper to present their smartphone at the till and have a barcode scanned to collect their points.

With Bink, all users need to do is shop as normal with their Bink-registered payment card – Bink then receives relevant data through a real-time feed and adds the customer’s loyalty ID. This aggregated data-set is then fed back to the retailer, enabling them to add their customer’s points and rewards (exactly as if the shopper had presented their plastic loyalty card).

5. Do you think the mobile wallet has a future?

The mobile wallet certainly has a future, your mobile phone now contains everything you need to go about life – paying via mobile was only a matter of time.

6. How important is FinTech in the banking sector?

It’s crucial. Initially FinTech companies were set up to develop products and solutions for customers aimed at overcoming the lack of technological innovation in the sector. They were generally focussed on improving the way money was invested, managed and accounted for. Whilst initially fearful of FinTech start-ups – considering them a drain on their revenues – as time has gone by that perspective has changed.

7. How is FinTech impacting retail?

This demand for increased agility represents a great opportunity for SMEs and independents, enabling them to compete with bigger players and chains. Unlike larger organisations, they can quickly and easily adapt, as they have fewer layers to wade through to effectively promote change.

The main draw of traditional loyalty schemes is everyone knows how they work and many shoppers seem willing enough to play along, when they remember their cards! However, the rise of contactless technology has sparked a growing demand among consumers and businesses alike for quicker, more seamless transactions.

8. Give us a snippet of the two most interesting trends you've discovered about loyalty and payments in recent years?

Firstly, the increase in the real-time nature of loyalty. We are seeing a growing trend in this.  Whether adding specific items at till, triggering a personalised experience, delivering coupons that have been added to the loyalty card in advance, or simply redeeming rewards at the point of sale; the interaction is personal and timely ensuring the loyalty program is more intently linked to the customer’s specific interaction with the brand.

And secondly, the changing nature of customer shopping behaviours. The growth of online over the last decade has massively helped drive customer engagement, increasing the amount of data and generating improved customer insight – leading to smarter communications with customers. At the same time the high street has suffered in the opposing direction, with customers making smaller, higher frequency shopping trips generating smaller basket sizes. Because of this change, customers are seeing less value in loyalty schemes and are reducing the presentation rate of loyalty cards at the till.

9. Name some of the retailers you are working alongside? And what are their biggest challenges?

Bink has secured impressively early buy-in from the likes of Arcadia Group, Avios, Dixons Travel, Harvester, HMV, Morrisons, PizzaExpress, River Island, StylePoints, Virgin Atlantic, Dragon Pass, and Gap, with more joining every month!

Retailers are suddenly switching all systems – for example, going ‘completely mobile’ – can prove alienating to consumers who will not have anticipated a sudden change.

10. Why are you exhibiting at RBTE 2017?

RBTE brings together leaders in technology and retail. With Bink set to revolutionise the $100 billion global loyalty market, it makes sense for us to be here showcasing our innovative offering and networking with other inspiring businesses.

11. What's the greatest example of retail technology you've seen this year?

At last, there has been an industry-wide awakening regarding mobile payments and cutting ‘time at till’. For example, it is vital high-street retailers’ EPOS systems can support the latest payment technologies such as Apple Pay, allowing the speed and flexibility in shopping today’s consumers expect.

12. What consumer technology has revolutionised your day-to-day life?

This will apply to so many other people, but Uber has fundamentally changed the way I travel and think about getting from A to B; I now have an efficient, reliable option wherever I am. I no longer need to worry about having cash to pay for a cab – it all just works seamlessly in a beautiful, customer-centric way.

13. What keeps you up at night?

Currently keeping Bink’s team up at night is the excitement and planning of our global expansion. We’re looking to complete a £25 million Series A funding round during Q2 2017. This will fuel a move into new territories, including the US and continental Europe, South Africa and UAE. A launch in Asia/Australasia is planned for Q1 2018. Busy and exciting times for Bink.

Lee Clarke is the founder & CEO of Bink a company shaking up the loyalty sector with 'card-linked loyalty'.

Bink’s new loyalty app, for the first-time links consumer card payments to loyalty schemes allowing customers to enjoy auto-presentation of loyalty by seamlessly linking their payment and loyalty cards together.

Come and meet Bink at RBTE on 8 & 9 May 2017. Bink will be exhibiting on stand #1520 at London's Olympia.


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