Mobile Commerce Daily is now Retail Dive: Mobile Commerce! Click here to learn more!

Chicago merchants using mobile wallet app to enhance loyalty efforts

Chicago merchants Swirlz Cupcakes, Green Genees and Lincoln Park Massage are among the local business letting customers receive offers and redeem rewards via a mobile wallet application.  

The free PayCloud Mobile Wallet application from SparkBase gives customers of participating retailers the ability to wave an iPhone or Android smartphone at a countertop sensor to check-in, redeem rewards and view their loyalty account status. It is currently available at 20 local Chicago merchants with another 30 expected to be added in the next few weeks.

“Current loyalty programs are primarily passive, requiring the consumer to come into the merchant’s location and conduct a transaction to generate any reward activity,” said Doug Hardman, CEO of SparkBase, Cleveland, OH.

“With PayCloud, the merchant has the ability to reach their mobile customers directly on their smartphone at virtually any time with coupons and promotions to drive repeat business,” he said.

“PayCloud lets you precisely identify and target your loyalty program members and reach them with customized messages right on their phone.”

Mobile wallet
SparkBase, which developed the PayCloud Mobile Wallet, is a processor of white-label loyalty and stored value programs. The company enables financial services organizations, ISOs, acquirers and other merchant services providers to create and sell a variety of stored-value offerings including gift cards, loyalty and rewards programs.

The initial release of PayCloud enables consumers to complete a purchase if they have a stored value gift card — similar to Starbucks’ current implementation — or if they have a reward to redeem.

The next major PayCloud release will enable consumers to connect their mobile wallet to a PayPal account or credit card and complete the entire transaction from check-in to purchase from their PayCloud mobile wallet.

PayCloud users see a map view of all area PayCloud merchants. By tapping the blue buttons identifying a merchant location, the user can view details about that merchant.

Users can also enroll in any merchant’s loyalty program and immediately view discounts and deals.

Users who visit a PayCloud merchant can check in and redeem rewards by simply tapping their smartphone to the countertop PayCloud sensor.

The merchant has the ability at any time to broadcast promotions and coupons to mobile loyalty members, enabling them to target their most loyal customers with special deals to generate repeat business and foster loyalty.

A better loyalty experience
SparkBase’s primary market consists of smaller, neighborhood merchants who want to offer the same type of loyalty and reward programs that their national competitors do.

For shoppers, PayCloud helps resolve some of the complaints that consumers have with loyalty programs, per Mr. Hardman. These include having too many plastic cards, it is too bothersome to join the programs and not knowing the rewards status.

“Since the average household belongs to over 18 loyalty programs, this is a huge benefit for the consumer,” Mr. Hardman said.

“By eliminating the annoying elements of loyalty programs while adding mobile rewards and coupons everyone benefits,” he said.

SparkBase is developing in-store promotions to drive awareness of the program and enrollment at the merchant level. The company is also marketing through social media channels to generate consumer awareness and demand.

SparkBase plans to roll out to other targeted cities this fall, starting with the Cleveland area in September.

“Consumers want to simplify their lives, and converging loyalty programs on their smartphone is an ideal way to take control of their shopping experiences,” Mr. Hardman said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York