UK Towns and Cities Benefit from Local Loyalty Programme as Lockdowns Lift

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After a rapid expansion in 2020 due to the pandemic, Mi Rewards, the town and city loyalty programme from Scottish fintech Miconex and loyalty platform Stampfeet is approaching £1million in sales, with over 47,000 transactions.

Last year it rolled out across Enniskillen, Stoke-on-Trent City Centre, Guildford, Gloucester and Fleet. New schemes will launch in Barnsley and Kirkcaldy in 2021.

Originating in Perth in 2018, Mi Rewards is a payment card linked loyalty scheme with customers receiving rewards when they use linked debit or credit cards in participating local businesses in their town or city. Once cards are linked, the technology runs in the background and users don’t have to show a separate loyalty card.

A revamped website was introduced in May 2021 to provide support for new and existing Mi Rewards locations as businesses reopen following the latest lockdown. The new website features a greater focus on participating businesses, including a promotions page for the business to improve visibility and traction with potential customers.

In Kirkcaldy, Mi Rewards will also work alongside their Kirkcaldy Gift Card. Customers can link their Kirkcaldy Gift Card and get points when they spend it in participating retailers. Hazel Cross, is the Town Centre Development Officer at Fife Council:

“We launched Mi Rewards Kirkcaldy not only to encourage customers to the town centre but to reward their loyalty as they continue to love and support local businesses. It’s a great, no hassle, rewards programme. Every pound spent at participating businesses turns into a digital reward point and with every 10 Kirkcaldy points collected over the month, you’re entered into a monthly town centre prize draw.

“Kirkcaldy town centre has a great mix of independent businesses with everything from dinner to diamonds, carpets to coffee and spa days to sport, alongside a fantastic waterfront and weekly artisan market. Everyone is encouraged to continue to support and love Kirkcaldy and Kirkcaldy will continue to reward you, not only with fantastic goods, services, experiences but now with Kirkcaldy reward points too.”

Barnsley is introducing Mi Rewards as part of its coronavirus recovery work. Chris Savage, project manager in the markets and town centre services team at Barnsley Council, said:

“Alongside the Barnsley Gift Card, Mi Rewards is part of Barnsley Council’s work to support businesses to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. The programme is a great way to support the local economy in Barnsley, rewarding shoppers for spending with local businesses. We’re at the early stage of engaging with businesses to get them on board and will soon be announcing details of the monthly prizes. If you’re a business in Barnsley reading this, please contact us on [email protected] to find out how you can get involved.”

Gloucester is relaunching its Mi Rewards scheme following the latest lockdown. BID Manager Emily Gibbon from Gloucester BID said the initiative is vital to the re-opening of the high street:

“We have around 60 businesses on board across all sectors including retail, and food and drink. It’s useful for businesses because they can see who their customers are, who is shopping with them and where they are from, they can also reach out and gain new customers. Mi Rewards has a role in the re-opening of the high street, particularly as we approach step 3 in the road map.

“It’s important that businesses realise that they are not alone. They’ve probably tried various loyalty schemes in the past but this is next generation loyalty. We’re helping businesses to see the potential for Mi Rewards as a customer engagement platform, enabling cross pollination and businesses supporting businesses from one side of the city to the other and aligning with our motto- together we can achieve more.

“Anything new requires a change in behaviour and that takes time but customers are starting to realise the benefits of being a part of Mi Rewards, like exclusive offers and discounts. They get 1 entry into our prize draw for every £10 spent; the April prize was a £100 Gloucester Gift Card and the May prize is two £50 Gloucester Gift Cards, but we’re also looking into hampers, bundles and more.”

The Mi Rewards scheme moved to a points based rewards process in 2020 giving even low volume users the opportunity to win a prize, with chances to win increasing alongside usage. Colin Munro is the managing director of Miconex, which also operates over 60 Town and City Gift Card programmes in the UK and Ireland, including in Enniskillen, Kirkcaldy, Barnsley and Gloucester.

“The vision with Mi Rewards was for a more efficient solution to the loyalty problem that businesses face. Traditional loyalty schemes have tried and failed. Mi Rewards is a next generation loyalty solution that approaches loyalty at a place level, bringing businesses together in a coalition, in a way that is beneficial to the business, the customer and the town or city.

“Places and businesses can use the data they receive to better understand their customers, measuring and identifying what works and what doesn’t, and rewarding local spend. Mi Rewards offers zero friction, positive user experience and huge potential for solving the conundrum of high street loyalty.”

Asaf Rozin is the CEO of London and Maryland based loyalty platform Stampfeet, and said one of the main benefits of Mi Rewards is the removal of issues with traditional loyalty programmes:

“With a traditional loyalty card programme, there is the constant struggle to get the data coming in. You can only get the data when customers present their loyalty card. With Mi Rewards, there is a one-off action on the customer’s behalf to link their payment cards. There is no need to train staff, and the business receives data as long as the payment card keeps being used; the customer can link as many cards as they like.

“Mi Rewards works on a token system. A customer links a card, say a Visa, and we receive a token. Every time there is a transaction, the Visa ID is matched to the token and the customer is rewarded. We don’t hold or store a customer’s card details. Both Apple Pay and Google Pay work in the same way.

“It is anticipated that Mi Rewards functionality will develop over time to allow businesses to offer their own prizes, keeping their own nature as a small business but within a platform of users in their area who are their potential customers. This will enhance business profitability and efficiency. Coalition loyalty has huge potential, particularly around mutual and partner offers, for example with a free coffee after you’ve had your haircut. Through coalition loyalty, we can drive spend in local high streets.”

  • Gina is a fintech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.

https://thefintechtimes.com/uk-towns-and-cities-benefit-from-local-loyalty-programme-as-lockdowns-lift/