Everybody loves a good deal! Many of us will admit to carrying several loyalty cards around with us to make sure we get access to some of the best deals. But in today’s society we are used to getting everything fast – it’s a world of instant gratification. Point collecting may now seem like a cumbersome task, we need to carry around a loyalty card and we have to wait to reap the benefits. So, could WiFi become the loyalty card of the future?

Loyalty sure does pay

Loyalty cards are a great idea to encourage shoppers to come back into a store. Often there are many deals that can be gained by being part of a loyalty programme, but are they enough for today’s shoppers? Tesco Clubcard is one of the most widely recognised point collecting loyalty programmes, with over 15 million users at last count. However, some people still report confusion about how best to ‘boost up’, ‘double up’ or ‘voucher exchange’ to get the most out of the loyalty point collecting scheme. In March this year Tesco made some of their point collecting offers more convenient as they are storing points on for Fuel Save where customers can earn up to 20p off every litre of fuel. There are no vouchers given out to customers as it is all stored on the Clubcard. This means a customer just needs to turn up and hand over their card when paying for petrol. No waiting and no forms to fill in – better news for today’s consumers.

Nectar loyalty cards are also popular and are the most widely used in the UK. Again, the point collecting system is a little confusing. Customers get two points for every £1 spent, this means you need to spend £500 pounds to get 1000 points. Each point is worth 0.5 pence each. So a £500 spend would give you £5 back, to spend in relevant stores. It doesn’t seem such an appealing deal when you work out what the points are worth!

In contrast, the Boots Advantage card was reviewed by Which and was found to offer the most points per pound spent. Certainly it is one of the most popular loyalty schemes around with members really enjoying the pounds they can redeem regularly. However, when Which compared Boots prices to other competitors, they found that Boots’ prices for some of their goods were slightly higher. Boots customers are clearly close to the brand and willing to pay those extra pennies for the points they get in return.

Credit cards also have loyalty point systems. However, on average spending around £12000 a year could make you less than £100 in cashback.

Showrooming and price matching

Consumers are being found to ‘showroom’ in stores more and more. This is where they can browse a store and search on the internet for a better deal. Showrooming is now a common practice in stores with an estimated 73% of US customers who will browse an item in a ‘bricks and mortar’ shop without purchasing it, then go online to get the same item at a cheaper price. Showrooming has no doubt had a great effect on retail stores because items can often be found cheaper online. Amazon, who are the world’s biggest online retailer, have now added another string to their very large bow – where they want you to price match with their online store whilst you are out. They have developed an app that allows you to search (by barcode, picture, voice or text) for Amazon products to see if they can ‘guide you in making informed purchase decisions.’

Fast deals are more appealing

How will real shops compete? Stores will need to convince you to stick with them and point collecting is absolutely one way to do this, as the figures tell us.

Could real time offers whilst you are in the store there and then be the way to go? These offers can be sent straight to your phone whilst you are actually in the store that you are wanting to purchase from.

MPOS, or Mobile payment systems, is a point-of-sale payment made through a mobile device, such as a smartphone. Using MPOS, a person with a wireless device could pay for items in a store without interacting with any of the store staff. If a shopper wants to pay quickly the purchase can be made next to where the product is. The consumer simply connects to mobile card readers that plug into a mobile device’s audio jack to accept credit cards. The mobile apps that support MPOS scan the barcode and bank PIN number and payment is authorised. Further development of MPOS will include an option to get the product delivered straight to your door rather than carrying the item around the shopping malls.

WiFi while you buy

It is clear that stores are trying to entice shoppers with deals and offers to keep them returning to their shops. At the very least, shoppers may soon see their points and offers being zapped to a phone app that is easily accessible and always ready to redeem.

Savvy shops are already using WiFi to transfer real time offers to a mobile device, as well as taking payment and issuing e-receipts straight from apps.

Collecting rewards, loyalty points and receiving store deals on your phone will be the retail experience of our not too distant future.