Loyalty programs are pretty common to retail businesses and most of us have dealt with them at some point of our consumption-driven lifestyle. When India Retail Forum 2014 was announced, we, at inloyal, were excited for we had heard that it’s the Mecca of the Indian Retail scene and the who’s who of the industry will be there in this 2-day mega event. Since we had never participated in previous IRF events, we were really looking forward to be there and meet and greet the industry players.
Let me tell you a little bit about inloyal to help you with the context. inloyal, a Forysta Ventures Ltd. initiative, is the first-of-its-kind SaaS and mobile wallet based loyalty rewards and CRM technology platform that helps the retail merchants create and/or manage their loyalty and CRM initiatives. Loyalty, targeted promotions, mobile commerce, social loyalty, data analytics and more such engagement features are available at the retailer’s disposal. On the other hand, the customers of these merchants can add their loyalty cards on inloyal, available on iOS and Android, to manage their loyalty memberships and engage directly with the retailers from their mobile phones. Rewards, coupons, social media, redemption and much more can be managed directly from the customer’s phone through the inloyal loyalty wallet. So inloyal manages both ends of the loyalty spectrum, making it in a 2-way CRM, loyalty and engagement channel, benefitting both retailers and their customers to a large extent.
Coming back to IRF, our relationship with Images Group had kicked off with the Indian Shopping Center Forum (ISCF) earlier this year and both of us had made a note then to try and do something together for the upcoming IRF event. Now being a startup, it was absolutely impossible for us to splurge monies to simply sponsor an event. The challenge before us was to put together an out-of-the-box idea, that is beneficial to everyone involved and at the same time, is effective in creating a buzz and capturing the attention of the audience we wanted to reach out to. Thus was born the idea of creating an exciting rewards program for India Retail Forum, a move that has no Indian precedent. When we presented this idea to Images, it was met with extreme enthusiasm and the room was immediately flooded with ideas that should and can be implemented. There were definite challenges, given the novelty and time factor, but it was clear that both of us were willing to put ourselves to test and walk the unbeaten path. The idea was clearly to get together a marketing initiative with a use-case scenario where retailers themselves will be able to experience what inloyal’s capabilities are and how it can dramatically revolutionize their loyalty programs thereby increasing the customer engagement levels.
We then started with the program design and had countless meetings and brainstorming sessions that gave shape to the program and its deployment. In fact, we even faced a huge crisis when the iOS version of the app, which was updated to cater to IRF, was stuck at the App Store for more than 2 weeks and was released by the Apple with only 9 hours left to the start of the event. The program was simple: Download inloyal, add the IRF card, scan QR codes at the event to collect points and then go to IRF Shop on inloyal to buy your rewards with your accumulated points.
We initially struggled with some operational and logistical issues on Day 1 but as the event unfolded, we quickly overcame the teething problems and started attracting large crowds: delegates attracted by the novelty of idea; some to understand how to earn points so they could burn them; retail stakeholders to understand how inloyal can help them with their loyalty programs; some just curious to know what the fuss was all about. Delegates were scanning QR codes, collecting points and then redeeming them on the IRF Shop on inloyal app while others watched them with curiosity. As Sangeeta Bhargava, GM – Sales & Marketing, Maheshwari Group, puts it, “The experience of a rewards program with inloyal was the very first I had. I could collect my IRF reward points and burn them against products of my choice, and that too on the mobile. It was definitely a very practical and easy to use program, available at your fingertips.” Apart from the delegates, we had some esteemed speakers visit us too, to burn their accumulated points for goodies to take back home. Rahul Singh, CEO, The Beer Cafe, said “I liked the idea of IRF + inloyal Rewards Program as IRF is a congregation of retailers and loyalty/rewards program are a ‘must have’ for the retail industry. So having the retailers experience this first hand was apt. I have seen such rewards programs at various events in the US but this was the first time I came across one in India. The scanning of QR codes went very well. However, it was a challenge to scout the various QR codes places across the premises. I did notice some lag due to low network and some bugs when I tried to redeem. As they say the biggest room in the world is for improvement, I certainly look forward to reward programs powered by inloyal across various verticals.”
As the event came to a close on Day 2, we saw a steady stream of visitors, who had redeemed their reward points on the IRF Shop on inloyal, to collect their rewards. So much so, long after we had left the booth and joined other delegates to network over dinner, we received redemption orders from delegates who logged on to inloyal to select their IRF rewards and redeem their points. We made sure that such orders were dispatched to the recipient’s choice of address the very next day.
IRF + inloyal Rewards Program, in the beginning, seemed like one of those crazy ideas for we had chosen one of India’s biggest retail platforms, putting our organization’s credibility on the test line. Not that we didn’t face issues, but more importantly, we were able to overcome problems and ensure that we achieved goals that the program was designed to achieve. We saw an engagement ratio of 27% across various features including IRF Connect, where delegates could connect with each other and fix a place/time to meet at the event. We saw 21% engagement in delegates trying to earn rewards and a whopping 86% in rewards redemption by active delegates. The statistics are encouraging given that the program lasted only during the 2 days of the event. The statistics also prove that your customers will engage with your brand if you choose to provide them with a channel to conveniently do so. Most of the loyalty programs in the country today keep the customer in the blind whereby the customer does not really care about his membership until he is presented with a coupon or when he actually walks in the store. What we have built inloyal to do is help make your loyalty program fun again and have your customers interact with your brand at any time and place. We have built great tools, both for the retailer and his customer, to ensure that the customer always feels that he is in total control of his loyalty memberships and at the same time, the retailer knows his customer and is able to market to him based on his preferences.
We had a great time getting the IRF + inloyal rewards Program on the floor and I want to use this opportunity to thank the teams at inloyal and India Retail Forum for giving their best to ensure the program’s success. Cheers!