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Tech enabling the loyalty dream in Hong Kong

Teresa Leung (Computerworld HK) | Nov. 5, 2013
Smartphone app-based loyalty programs replace paper loyalty cards.

Everyone loves a discount, so we collect paper loyalty cards and accumulate stamps believing they can redeem offers later. But we lose them or forget to carry them. Fortunately, some switched-on Hong Kong-based tech firms see the problems with paper or plastic cards and now offer customer loyalty platforms for merchants instead.

Ultrasonic tech to 'emit' offers
Green Tomato — with the use of an ultrasonic-powered positioning technology dubbed Pointcast — helps Langham Place in Mongkok attract shoppers. According to Jacqueline Chong, CMO at Green Tomato, the mall launched its Jetso app (it means "Jetso Circle" but has no official English name) in early 2013.

After a visitor downloads the smartphone app, he or she goes to the Jetso Zones in designated areas of the mall to 'unlock' the icoupons in the app. "You won't miss the Jetso Zones located on four different floors—there are huge, eye-catching signs," said Chong.

When a visitor walks near a Pointcast-embedded station that emits encrypted signals in a Jetso Zone, those icoupons will be unlocked automatically. The visitor can then redeem those offers in corresponding shops inside the mall.

According to Green Tomato, you can connect one Pointcast-enabled device to another within 25 meters—compared to NFC at 8 inches and Bluetooth at about 6 meters.

"In Langham Place's case, they use their existing digital signage screens with built-in speakers to emit ultrasonic signals," said Chong. "Since humans can't hear ultrasound, it won't cause interference to the regular sounds from the same screen."

To let merchants join at no additional cost, the mall gives them iPads to use for icoupon redemption, said Chong. "The redemption data indicates that 80% of the gifts offered through this app at Langham Place have gone out of stock," she said.

When the mall reaches a certain number of app users, it will link the app to its LP Club loyalty program, she added.

Companies can also integrate smartphone-based loyalty programs with their POS, according to Chong. "Cosmetic retailer Fancl—one of our customers—has already done this," she said. "This eliminates the firm's need to manually input data into its CRM system."

New app for fun campaigns
One of the benefits of having a smartphone app-based loyalty program is that you can create new and fun campaigns to attract new and existing shoppers much faster than before.

According to Matthew Aitken, co-founder of Soda, a Hong Kong-based loyalty app and tech provider, traditional paper-card-based programs focus on the top 10% of customers who are already loyal—while ignoring up-sell opportunities to in-store browsers and new customers where the potential to increase revenue is the greatest.

Rapid sing-up
But when there's a system behind the program that allows you to create different types of offers and promote them immediately, you can attract new customers and returning customers more easily.


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