Customer data is the foundation of any loyalty program; yet retail brands have historically faced unique challenges in the loyalty space due to their varied distribution networks and lack of access to point-of-sale data. The techniques for managing loyalty programs from the past are mostly ineffective today due to disruption caused by growth of ecommerce and intense retail competition. Retail brands need to reinvent their loyalty programs to attract, retain and grow customers. The changing landscape of retail along with new channels of shopping (ecommerce, marketplaces, etc.) is making most brands rethink their loyalty programs, as they are unable to tie the point-of-sale purchase data to consumers.
We all know that data is king; and it is the key towards precision marketing or chalking out any successful loyalty or rewards program. We are inundated with data from sales channels, digital platforms, CRM systems, rewards programs, loyalty programs etc.; and this data has never been more valuable. The good thing is that there are many more possibilities to collect and analyze data today; however, online retailers or ecommerce companies have maximum leverage over this. Online shoppers sign up on websites and create a trail of demographic data such as email addresses, age, gender, household size, purchase history, website visits and products viewed even when they don’t end up making a purchase. Every bit of this information when mined, tracked and analyzed results in more targeted and personalized recommendations, loyalty programs, offers, and discounts.
And this is where retail brands are failing as without a direct connection to the point of sale they are unable to collect the required data to bridge the gap in order to build comprehensive loyalty programs or marketing campaigns. So how can they collect this flood of data to create valuable, personalized experiences for customers (just like how ecommerce companies are doing it) and meet their business objectives? Well the answer lies in the simple receipt – the receipt can said to be the holy grail of precision marketing for brands without a direct connection to the point of sale. In fact recent advances in technology such as image scanning and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) can help in collecting the data from receipts before they end up in garbage to leverage engagement and loyalty. Receipt data is a like a gold mine containing valuable information for brands and marketers. And to collect that data, all that brands have to do is to encourage their customers through campaigns to take their phones, snap a picture of the receipt and upload it. Yes, it’s that simple. Enabling customers to scan and submit their purchase receipts allows them to truly maximize their loyalty programs and extend offers. Once these receipts are validated, brands and marketers can get access to a wealth of data on consumers shopping preferences. Validating and processing receipts can help in collecting information such as store location, products purchased, date and time of purchase etc. and this information can be extremely valuable in creating effective loyalty programs. In addition to learning more about the consumers shopping preferences, receipt data is a great way to re-target customers and cross-sell across multiple brands. Unlike ecommerce companies or brands with existing loyalty members, which usually have customer’s name along with more personal information such as date of birth etc., receipt validation makes it possible for retailers and brands that lack in-store visibility to collect data on its customers – in terms of what, where and when of their buying patterns. Receipts also help in collecting SKU (stock keeping unit) data, which can further be used to analyze inventory specific data such as which product was actually purchased, where it was purchased, at what prices and with what discounts, and in combination with which other products.
Receipt data holds much promise today for loyalty programs – effective receipt data collection can provide insights to companies to create better and personalized programs. Efficient and accurate receipt data collection will be the key in extracting more value out of rewards and loyalty programs. A combination of scanning, point-of-sale and mobile technologies along with product catalog, inventory and receipt data will put valuable information into the hands of marketers and brands to come up with best retention strategies. Data driven loyalty programs from the offline world will be a key differentiator in the future.
Receipt processing allows brands to run purchase-based promotions without codes on-pack or any point of sale integration. Consumers submit receipts using multiple channels such as SMS, email, mail, mobile web, desktop and in-app options. Brands need to partner with best-of-breed receipt processing technology partners if they don’t have the in-house capability to manage the operations.
Receipt Processing Overview
Collecting, verifying and processing receipt data is a time consuming and complex process that needs to be thought through and implemented properly. Below are some of the key steps involved in receipt processing and the challenges:
- Validate purchases based on program rules.
- Determine qualification criteria based on campaign requirements aimed at promoting certain products or bundles.
- Identify all qualifying items and automatically credit points into consumer’s loyalty account.
- Process receipts from different geographical locations with variation in data formats for fields such as store addressees.
- Process receipts from different retailers who follow their own proprietary receipt templates and product SKU naming conventions. To add to the complexity, there will be instances where consumers will submit crumpled and faded receipts that are not easily legible.
- Implement sophisticated fraud detection to prevent fake or tampered receipt submissions.
- Study detailed analytics to measure and understand campaign effectiveness.
With the advances in mobile, cloud and OCR, now is the right time for brands to start capturing the tons of valuable data sitting on receipts. Brands have the ability to create a 360-degree customer view using the purchase history from retail stores. This enables them to run more comprehensive marketing programs that create loyalty across all the customer touch points in the online and offline world. To stay competitive, brands need to reward consumers with a unified experience for their purchase of products and ongoing loyalty. It is important to make it seamless and simple for consumers to earn points for purchases. Smart and efficinet receipt processing enables brands to leverage different kinds of marketing programs ranging from sweepstakes & contests, loyalty programs, rebates and retailer-specific promotions. When done well, this is what would set brands apart from their competitors and create long lasting customer loyalty.