This interview was done in early March 2020 – before the impact of Covid-19 affected us all. With convenience retail one of the few sectors continuing to operate amidst the pandemic, there has never been a more important time for retailers to connect with their customers.
Valora in Switzerland is one of Europe’s most innovative retailers that had invested in a digital loyalty programme, giving them tools they need to engage and communicate with their customers at this unique time.
Read about this exciting programme here:
As one of the most developed countries in the world with the highest nominal wealth per adult in the world, Switzerland is widely recognised and respected as a country with cities that boast an exceptional quality of life. With its “stable, prosperous and high-tech economy and great wealth“, its eight and a half million citizens enjoy a peaceful and prosperous lifestyle, so it’s no surprise to learn that it’s also a mature market when it comes to retailing, innovation and the loyalty landscape. The leading grocery retailers have offered loyalty programmes for several years, thereby educating Swiss users about the benefits of registering and sharing their purchase data in order to earn exciting rewards. They also ensure that any loyalty programmes in the convenience industry will need to demonstrate some compelling benefits for users in order to earn a place in their busy lives.
In this article, we discuss the latest ideas and insights from Valora – the leading foodvenience provider in the country in an exciting interview with Michael Wirth, their Head of Digital. A long time partner of the company even before he joined the team in this key role, he shares some of the latest loyalty enhancements they’ve launched for their “k kiosk” app-based programme that truly embody the guiding principles of the company – “nearby, quick, convenient and fresh” – increasingly evident in their innovative online programme, as they’ve done so successfully offline in their stores since their humble beginnings in the 19th century!
Michael Wirth, Head of Digital in Valora.
When it initially launched in 2017, the k kiosk app focused on two key consumer benefits: firstly, the simple benefit of regular discount coupons as well as a digital stamp card to track coffee customers and their spend. Coffee customers get every sixth coffee free, as well as generous incentives to download the app, on their birthday and any time they recommend the programme to their friends and family. These simple benefits were also supplemented by a number of gamification campaigns that continually drive engagement.
While this early strategy has proven an excellent approach to begin to connect with value-conscious and coffee-drinking consumers, it was clear to Wirth that higher-spending customers deserved a more compelling proposition with greater recognition and rewards. And so began the careful planning and launch of this latest phase of their customer connection strategy, ensuring their digital channels deliver the same ultra-convenient experience for customers that their incredible network of small format stores has always done.
As so many convenience shoppers simply “grab and go”, our industry has (perhaps unfairly) for many years assumed that convenience shoppers did not expect to be recognised or rewarded for their loyalty. In order to understand if this was true or merely an assumption, the Valora team decided to actually ask their customers. A simple yet often overlooked step when it comes to building something that will work! And the results were exciting and not too surprising – customers that plan more and spend more, expect more! The message was clear – beyond stamps and coupons, they wanted the option to earn for every purchase and every transaction, and so a points system was designed and added to the platform to ensure exactly that! For loyalty marketers, points are sometimes undervalued in terms of their power to drive behaviour and enable relevant rewards, however Valora’s customers understand the value exchange of loyalty programmes so well, that it was clearly an essential mechanic that customers would appreciate.
Listening and Learning
The k kiosk’s new points feature went live in December 2019 and Wirth is excited with its potential to enable the company to continually evolve and perfect their customer’s experiences, now enabled by a complete “closed loop” feedback system that also ensures that customers feel “heard”.
With its “soft launch” phase now several months in the market gathering insights around adoption and usage, k kiosk is now focused on its in-store marketing campaign designed to excite and educate its customers throughout the country on the points programme, as well as continue to promote the delightful “share and care” coupons that this award-winning convenience brand is already famous for.
When asked what he’s planning next for this innovative programme, Wirth is excited about the possibilities of payment-linked loyalty with its proven ability to simplify the collection of data for their entire customer base, even those the segment who currently spend less than others and remain laser-focused on speed and simplicity. He is also working with his buying colleagues to connect with suppliers who realise the potential of behavioural data at such scale and how it can be combined with the power of mobile as the most intimate connected channel to customers. He has even added a “like” button to the app to capture additional glimpses of insights that can be shared anonymously with their manufacturing partners to deliver even-more compelling benefits for k kiosk customers.
What Do We Know “For Sure”
Wirth’s key insights for our industry is that “one size will never fit all” – specific feature sets can (and should) be designed to delight customers so much that they install the k kiosk app permanently. Only then will they be sure that the brand is always as “nearby” digitally as it has always been physically.
Liquid Barcodes is a leading global loyalty and digital marketing technology company specialized for the convenience store and foodservice industries. Our proprietary cloud-based technology platform allow retailers to create and manage their digital marketing campaigns with a proprietary process we call the “customer connection cycle’ to engage, promote and reward customers activities in real-time across digital and media channels.
How we do it:
We have developed the most advanced loyalty and digital marketing technology platform specifically for convenience store and foodservice retailers globally.
Retailers use our self-service dashboard to create and manage loyalty driven marketing campaigns that increase purchases with their existing customers, as well as effectively target and acquire new customers through partners or paid media channels.
One core component of live loyalty is gamification. We have gamified branding, loyalty and promotions. We believe this approach is essential in order to get customers’ attention and ultimately truly engage them with repeatable actions thereby winning their loyalty.
Check out some of our exciting/proven results here:
Chief Content Officer, Liquid Barcodes and Independent Loyalty Consultant
With over twenty-five years marketing experience, I specialise in loyalty marketing consulting, managing consumer loyalty propositions, strategy and operations. In addition to working with Liquid Barcodes, my clients have included Telefonica O2, Three Mobile, Electric Ireland, Allied Irish Bank and The Entertainer, as well as Avios – the global points currency for some of the world’s top airlines. I am also a former judge for the Loyalty Magazine Awards.