I don’t like reward programs. They remind me of giving up my bachelorhood. They are all about giving up the freedom and being tied up. There was a time when having a Shoppers Stop loyalty card seemed like an achievement. I kept one for three years and earned myself a pair of socks at the end of it.
There were clear reasons why it didn’t work for me. One of them being that the card was store specific. And, Shoppers Stop was not alone. I had one from Religare’s medicine store chain, another from Big Bazaar, Big Apple, Westside and what not! Everyone was pushing them and I was signing up.
All of it was a bloody stupid exercise. I never redeemed them, I hardly carried them and I didn’t think it amounted to much, monetarily. Most of the times, I just signed up to ward off a stubborn salesman. Now, whenever someone asks if I would care to be a member, I say a polite and firm NO. The kind that you say by maintaining eye contact, clenching your jaws and conveying with your whole body how much you detest the idea.
It has worked.
A few days back, I got a press release (of which, I get many) that announced a mobile phone based loyalty program application – MoMark Rewards. Now, something that complicated can’t be very useful but something caught my fancy. I read on.
I checked their website, I wrote to them for more information and I downloaded the APP for a trial, fully aware that I will soon uninstall it. The APP has a neat interface and allows you to all the usual stuff:
• Search for merchants around your location
• See distance of a merchant on GPS map
• Check offers and download them for free
• Share deals and reward points with your friends
• Do the Foursquare style Check In to see offers at any store
You can also register, earn reward points, gift reward points and redeem them right from your phone. The concept is nice. You can track your points and plan your outings in advance. So, they seem to have addressed the biggest issue with plastic reward program cards. Given that no print outs and cards are required, I may end up using it.
Like all good APPs, everything about MoMark Rewards is free. Like all good APPs, it faces the challenge of appealing to the fleeting twenty somethings to succeed.
It works better for the merchants. Having done away with the messy logistics, MoMark can offer much lower rates to start a loyalty program. So, the entry barrier for small retailers is out of the way. Once more retailers sign up, more users will download the APP or vice versa.
Its success depends on that little vice versa. Will they be able to get that More Merchants – More Users cycle right? In many technology segments, the first movers have perished and only the second or third wave made the killing. In many others, the first mover has the winning edge.
Now, only time will tell which segment mobile based loyalty program APP is.