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Loyalty program trends in 2021

Introduction

In today’s world as businesses evolve, technologies disrupt & the consumer behaviour changes, the brand experience has been made an important criterion for evaluating customer journey offered by businesses. Starting from 2021 to the foreseeable future, as IDC rightly predicts, the companies will be competing through the customer loyalty programs increasingly upon the customer experience which the customers receive. 2020 didn’t go as planned, the pandemic has affected the fundamentals of the business leading to profit in some cases & losses in some others. Looking beyond the dollar impact, what we foresee for the current year is corporations adjusting to the new trends by embracing digital transformation, automation, convenience, data-driven decisioning, & contactless commerce. As the pandemic has set us on a new path, we are anticipating 2021 will precipitate a number of unexpected changes to the shopping mall loyalty program landscape. Here’s to the loyalty program trends of 2021. 

‘Buy Now Pay Later’ (BNPL) is going to take a center stage

In the coming years companies are going to integrate the ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ scheme to their loyalty program allowing customers to pay equal, pre-determined, interest-free, loan instalments for the purchases they make through online loyalty programs. With the pandemic blues looming large, customers globally, especially in the worst-hit places like North America & Europe, are facing cash crunch leading to mass adoption of credit-averse purchases. As customers prioritize a right combination of flexibility, control, affordability, & convenience with regard to their shopping experience, brands which embrace the BNPL model will benefit from having a large wallet share, big basket size & more customers.    

Customers will promote brands who support their personal growth

The pandemic is delivering a mighty blow to the health profile of the people, & consequently customers are reassessing, reshaping, & repurposing their lifestyle choices. Today, the customer expects you to look beyond just selling your product & service & do something concrete to help achieve their personal goals, fulfil their passions, & satisfy their lifestyle objectives through best loyalty programs. Brands will, thus, have to look for creating values which are not tied to their product or service, & are rather steered towards purpose-fulfilling customers’ passion. 2021 will be about helping customers in manifesting their ambition & aiding them in keeping their habits & by doing so brands will earn the loyalty & advocacy of customers who will be convinced that your brand has more to offer than just products & service.

Creating contactless commercialization

The vision for retail customers over the last few years has been centred around creating frictionless experience for the buyers. The shared vision of the retail & travel space as in the case of non-aeronautical revenue is anchored on the worthy belief of contactless commercialization. 2021 will see the retail industry double down on the experience desired by customers & they will thus focus on healthier & happier buying experience & on loyalty programs for small businesses. This invigorated focus on health will drive mass adoption of digital & virtual capabilities which retailers, shopping malls & even airports will acquire to minimize human-to-human interaction during the entire purchasing journey.  The explicit & pent up demand for contactless brand interaction from customers will emphasize investment in contactless technology by the brands. 

Brands will earn by monetizing their loyalty programs

This pandemic led to a draught of monetary transactions in the industries like organized retail, travel, hospitality, entertainment & some others. With the revenue stream gone out the window there is an increasing need to maintain customer loyalty through loyalty rewards programs in these industries. Until the retail transaction life is alive & kicking again, which is only possible after complete vaccination, businesses will have to deal with vacant ques, empty spaces, empty tables, & vacant rooms, & in this testing time the loyalty programs will have to rely on the most loyal members. Throughout 2021, to survive this cruel onslaught of scarce business transactions, brands will have to monetize certain elements of their loyalty programs which have always been given for free. This subscription model will make up for the lost revenue stream & will act as a lifeline for brands. 

Investment in marketing technology & digitization initiative will grow

It is widely anticipated & even McKinsey found in its survey that companies will shift a significant portion of their budget towards investment in marketing technology & digitization initiatives including retail loyalty programs. Onboarding to the cloud & SaaS based products will continue to advance as brands look to drive innovation through the use of pre-built, off-the-peg marketing technologies capabilities as reduced technology teams focus on the core business platforms which is the backbone of their business. Thus, customer loyalty solutions like OKEN – a SaaS platform that powers both android and iOS app, from WovVTech could be of great demand as more & more top executives expect the pandemic to generate big opportunities of growth. 

Conclusion

Standing here in 2021, as we can see, the future of the customer experience in retail is going to be beyond personalization. The business owners will have to focus on a new, game-changing phenomenon called empathy for masses which encourages you to go beyond creating a personal experience for the customers to win their loyalty through customer loyalty programs