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Banana Republic Factory pilots mobile loyalty, chat to enhance in-store shopping

Banana Republic Factory is testing a mobile rewards program called Perks! at 40 stores to enhance the in-store shopping experience by engaging with customers via digital loyalty, chat and AI.

The value-priced apparel and accessories chain, a division of Gap Inc., is working with third-party loyalty and customer experience platform flok for the test. It kicked off on Father’s Day, with customers who have the flok app now able to engage with the retailer while at a store to enhance their shopping experience.

“Banana Republic Factory is a global apparel and accessories brand for women and men, focused on brilliantly versatile, contemporary classic and polished style at extraordinary value,” said Dave Heinzinger, vice president of marketing communications at flok.

“In order to strengthen its position in the value space and to continue to provide tangible benefits to loyal customers, the company has teamed up with flok – a powerful loyalty and customer experience platform – to test a new rewards program called Perks!”

Enhanced shopping
Flok is positioned as a local merchant network featuring multiple retailers that users can choose to interact with.

The platform offers a digital version of a loyalty punch card, enabling shoppers to earn rewards.

Banana Republic Factory customers receive a reward for signing up, a reward after making multiple purchases and special offers, such as 20 percent off a purchase.

Flok also offers AI chat.

Upon joining the Banana Republic rewards program on Flok, users get a message from the retailer thanking them for joining and encouraging them to chat at any time when they have a question or feedback.

Flok also offers proximity messaging triggered by beacons, enabling merchants to send a message to customers when they are inside a store. Through the use of geofencing, retailers can also message customers who are outside a store and try to encourage them to come in.

The app conundrum
As mobile’s role grows as a shopping assistant for consumers, merchants such as Banana Republic Factory want to reach shoppers on their smartphones but do not necessarily want to invest the time and resources and needed for a standalone application.

With driving downloads and repeat use of apps increasingly challenging, some merchants are looking to third-party platforms to help them meet shoppers needs.

Plato’s Closet is directly messaging customers through Flok while leveraging the platform’s business companion app to manage these interactions, including accessing a news feed of messages and a map of nearby customers (see story).

Kohl’s recently became the first retailer to integrate its private label credit card and rewards platform with Apple Pay for in-store use, pointing to the growing influence of mobile payments throughout the customer journey (see story).

“With flok’s platform, Banana Republic Factory will test digital loyalty, chat and AI tech to enhance customer relationships and the in-store experience,” Mr. Heinzinger said. “The pilot program launched on Father’s Day and will run in 40 Banana Republic Factory stores across the U.S.”