Programmes ensuring better business

Loyalty programmes are a sought after option for retailers and consumers.
Pawan Sarda

Loyalty programmes are turning out to be the best way to keep your customers intact and reward them in return. In a recent development, Future Group joined hands with Payback to offer a loyalty programme to its group of retail brands and stores. Future Group’s CMO, Pawan Sarda, along with making it as a customer loyalty programme, also plans to study the complete customer shopping pattern and then work further on it. While on the other hand, for Payback, this tie-up adds another feather to its hat. Florian Wolfframm, Head – Marketing and Rewards, Payback, now plans big in India in the coming years.

 
Gunjan Piplani (GP): Why did u choose Payback?
 
Pawan Sarda (PS): Future Group has been operating in the retail segment for about a decade now but we couldn’t really start off with a loyalty programme. But for a long time now we were planning to start off a group loyalty programme, for which we were trying to find the ideal platform. A lot of discussions and debated were held as to whether we should have a big bazaar loyalty programme or various partners in loyalty programme or group loyalty programme. 
Just to predict trends at customer level, retail level, migration level and consumption level, we decided to take up a Future Group loyalty programme. The advantage of such a programme is that a customer can be cross migrated from one format to another and explore shopping patterns and understand customer needs.
While we planned on the group loyalty programme, Payback happened to us. Payback, which also has partners in banking and travel, made us realize that we can have a broader and sharper view of the customer wallet. It turned out to be an interesting programme to understand today’s Indian customer wallet. Payback, which brought this expertise on board, will in future be beneficial for us – consumers and business.
 
GP: Future Group, at its Pantaloon Stores, already runs an in-house loyalty programme named Pantaloon Green Card. So
would the new Payback Loyalty programme cause a hindrance to your in-house loyalty programme?
 
PS: Looking at launching a group loyalty programme, the in-house Pantaloon Green Card would soon be a part of the Payback loyalty programme for Future Group. It’s in process and within a month this shift would take place.
With time we have realised that multi-brand loyalty programme will help us get a wider look at the customer patterns while with the in-house initiative it would have been limited.
 
GP: How do you see competition from other retail chains that might tie-up with Payback in future?
 
PS: Since, Payback and Future Group have joined hands for a loyalty programme; Payback will ensure that we don’t have retail competition in this, which might in future affect our business. It is going to be exclusive. Though we don’t mind niche segments coming into this picture, as the idea is to look and study the wallet size than anything else. More and more touch points would only be better for us. 
 
Florian Wolfframm (FW): As a loyalty programme service providers we would never tie up with the prospective competition in the sector. Our business is to give our customer the best value for position in the vertical.
 
GP: What are your expectations from the Payback, now after the loyalty programme more than one and a half month old?
 
PS: Some of the results so far look very positive. The idea of partnering with Payback is to have a broader view of wallet and consumption pattern and the rewards that will create habit for a consumer to shop more. The combination of these two things would provide stronger loyalty for our format in the long term. The analytics will be very important as more we understand our consumers the more it will be beneficial for us and for the business.
As of now our major challenges would be to get more people on board with this loyalty programme and also read the patterns and achieving these two challenges, is the goal for us this year.
 
GP: What kind of benefits will Future Group, as a retail group, reap from the Payback Loyalty Programme?
 
PS: It will help us understand the shopping patterns of the consumer and get personal with a customised offering and incentives for them. Understanding consumer needs and wants and delivering to customers will bring us loyalty.
 
GP: What kind of impact are you seeing and expecting in the coming future?
 
PS: With loyalty programmes on board customers are likely to transact more. The ticket size, early data shows, has grown 20-30 per cent as compared to the regular customers. We are also tracking the frequency of visiting the stores. Moreover, understanding our customer, we will only add value to our business.
 
GP: What kind of feedback is Payback getting now that it is a part of various verticals?
 
FW: The feedback has been very positive as customers get the opportunity to earn points whenever they open up their wallets, which enables them to convert these points into material gifts. We broadened our partner base as now we are present in retail through Future Group, in travel through MakeMyTrip, in banking through ICICI Bank and online with Ferns n Petals, BookMyShow and Letsbuy.com.
In fact, the customers now ask for loyalty programmes which are connected to various segments which help them get better opportunity.
 
GP: What promotional and marketing strategies are you taking up to get more customers on board?
 
PS: At this initial stage, when it is crucial to get more and more customers on board, we are aggressive working towards customer engagement and retention. Customer retention creates habit, and rewards make them spend more.
As a team, we are working towards building the brand Payback in India. Payback has launched itself in a 360 degree manner in terms of advertisement and communication. This makes it easier at store level, as all we have to do is visual merchandising. Every touch point talks about Payback.

 

GP: What is your current customer base? What are your expectations for 2012?
 
PS: We have already acquired 2.25 million Payback customers in two and a half months. We plan aggressive growth further from here, as more and more people become aware and join the wagon.
 
FW: We are planning to grow aggressively in the Indian market and plan to double our customer base which is 12 million around the year as of now. 
Pawan Sarda
 
 
 
 
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