Competitive forces in the market place make it necessary for your business to stand out to consumers. Having a loyalty programme is a way to create a point of difference, making it a preferred option for new and existing clients. Research has consistently shown that a comprehensive loyalty programme operating within a business can help encourage repeat consumer patronage. However, a loyalty programme needs to be carefully constructed with specific and achievable rewards combined with a transparent point accumulation system to help drive consumer sales. Without these attributes, the consumer will be wary and not participate thus defeating the purpose of the scheme.
What are Bonus Points?
Recognising this burgeoning consumer desire to be rewarded for ‘shopping exclusively’ with a particular business, CFL identified that an upgrade was necessary to remain competitive within the market as the existing VetlinkPRO software programme had a basic loyalty system incorporated in the software. CFL worked with P2P Limited to develop a comprehensive, corporate quality, Bonus Points system that has been integrated into the VetlinkPRO software programme with a seamless integration to the clinics website for client interaction.
Existing loyalty schemes have two major issues that can be disconcerting to a clinic contemplating introducing a loyalty programme. The first issue is the cost of administration and maintenance and the second is the cost of the ‘middle man.’ Some loyalty schemes can be difficult to execute from the clinics, clients or suppliers perspective, while others have a ‘middle man’ who wants to profit from managing the programme. Both of these issues increase the cost to the clinic as well as the suppliers, and reduce the discount that can be passed onto the client. This may result in a clinic’s decision to forgo having a loyalty programme. It is these problems that were addressed when the Bonus Points system was being upgraded, which has resulted in the system being extensive but still simple for all users to implement.
The system that has been developed is comprehensive and allows the user to activate, manage and track in-house, with no implementation or ongoing expenses. There is full control over point qualification for clients. This makes it a great way to encourage clients to use your entire range of services and to think of your business first for their retail needs. There is also the ability for existing clients to earn points by referring new clients and the scheme is very simple for suppliers to participate directly on a one to one basis with clinics to help grow their business.
OH NO! Not another card!
Consumers often complain that they are unable to remember how many points they have or what the points are redeemable for. With a vast selection of loyalty schemes available to them, it is certainly a chore to keep track of them all. CFL, in conjunction with P2P Limited, have created the ability for clients to track the accumulation of their points online through your website with an integrated clinic web site or there is the option for clients to receive corporate quality professional statements detailing the accumulating points total and their upcoming expiry in 1, 2 and 3 month alerts. By encouraging clients to check their points total online, you can also bring their attention to the ability for them to check the time of their next appointments which will result in your clinic’s phone lines being freed up, and in more hits for the website. Integrating the Bonus Points system from the front desk right through to the clinics web site has made the Bonus Points system easy to use for both clinics and clients alike, making it the ideal system to operate in today’s modern veterinary environments.
Supplier giving 1 free for 10 purchased. Who does it benefit?
The supplier benefits by obtaining brand loyalty from the client and your business. The client benefits as they are rewarded for their repeat purchases. The benefit to the business, however, is debateable. You have kept the client happy, and they may continue to purchase that particular product, but technically speaking you have done yourself out of a sale.
How can a business maintain the status quo, create flexibility for the clients and grow the business all in one go?
Example: Product A retails at $100. Give your clients 1000pts ($10) for each purchase of that product. Once they have purchased 10 of that product, they will have accumulated 10,000 points ($100) and can claim the “free” 11th product. This shows the similarity between the systems. However, Bonus Points allows for the capability to do so much more. Clients can collect Bonus Points on a wider range of products which can be pooled into one total.
There is also the option of collecting Bonus Points on the services that are provided by the clinic; something that the suppliers cannot offer you with their scheme. By choosing services that have low overheads to the business, you can promote these services to clients helping generate more business. By allowing for these services to be redeemed as rewards, you can minimise the running costs whilst maximising the client satisfaction.
The concept of collecting points from a wide range of participators, but redeeming through only one, is not new. Air New Zealand Air Points, for example, can now be collected not just from the airline, but from other participating retailers such as BNZ Global Plus credit cards, Budget Rent-A-Car and Hilton Hotels to name but a few. The end result is that people will fly on Air New Zealand, as opposed to another airline upon redemption of their points. Air New Zealand, while not making money directly for their company when customers redeem the points, have prevented their competitors from profiting from that customer.
By utilising the Bonus Points system, you create a reason for your clients to purchase from you, rather than shopping elsewhere. Each time the client purchases from you, you deny your competitors the opportunity to gain that sale. There is no need for you to partner up with anyone outside of your business except for your suppliers.
Advantages of using Bonus Points
- The key tags, combined with the in-built system, will allow for tracking of the accumulation of bonus points. Clients do not need to carry a card and request it to be stamped and you no longer need to worry about “Oops, I forgot my card last time, may I please collect the stamp for it now?”
- The in-built bonus points system has the ability to introduce a wide range of products and services into the loyalty scheme. By doing so, you are able to emphasise the business as a brand that clients think of for all their requirements; both service and retail related. It promotes flexibility in your loyalty scheme, making it more attractive for people to use, resulting in increased profit for the business.
- Not all points are going to be redeemed, so the business will benefit from this extra “money”. Research shows that in the United Kingdom, shoppers are sitting on £2bn in unclaimed rewards and about £460m is going to stay this way (Loyalty bonuses go unclaimed - Beth Hale and Daily Mail Reporter).
- When $100 RRP worth of points are redeemed by the client on a product, the businesses actual cost of the product is say $70. However, the customer perceives the value of the reward as $100.
- The activation of the bonus points system allows for the whole process of collecting points to escalate into a ‘strength’ and a point of difference for the business. Pooling points into one system will result in the ‘whole being greater than the sum of the parts’ thereby creating synergy in the business.
- Over time, the prices of the services and retail products will go up and the value of the loyalty points will drop creating a future margin for the business to capitalise on.
- Because the key tags come three to a card, there is the ability for you to promote different aspects of your business. The key tags could have separate designs to differentiate your large animal clients from your small animal client. Another possibility is to have a special key tag for your V.I.P clients. If you have a chain of stores, each branch can have their own key tag design, but they can all be ordered at once thus reducing the cost.
How can I maximise the system to encourage client spending?
Have special “double points” days to attract clients – with or without supplier participation.Luxury Products
Promote high margin “luxury” products for redemption to create an extra margin for your business.Slow Moving Products
Promote slow moving items, products that are nearing expiry and / or end of line products using extra “points”.Minimal Overheads
Allow for points to be collected and redeemed for services that have minimal overheads for the clinic i.e. annual animal health checks or training for junior nurses.Using Your Website
Create hits for your website by asking clients to check online as to the expiration status of their points. Upon noticing points may be close to expiration, the client will come into the business creating the opportunity for staff to up-sell more products and services.
Frequently asked questions
The cost of setting up a bonus points scheme is out of my budget at the moment, as surely it is expensive.Solution:
The integrated bonus points system that you are able to set up, manage and track in-house already exists in your software. The price of the key tags is retrievable by passing the cost (or a little more for a profit) onto your clients.Problem:
Clients already have their wallets full of loyalty cards. I don’t want to bother them with another!Solution:
CFL, in conjunction with P2P Limited, have developed key tags to use creating convenience for the client as they always carry their keys with them. No more stamping cards!Problem:
Some of my products have a lower profit margin on them than others, so I don’t want clients to be able to earn the same amount of points on every product or service.Solution:
Each product or service can have up to 9 different and independent levels of reward points available. Not only can you allocate how much each product receives, but you can also allocate how much different categories of clients’ receive.Problem:
My clients tell me that already staff take too long to find the relevant records and are sometimes charged for the wrong service or product. Surely this is going to get worse with Bonus Points?Solution:
The key tags help ensure speed and accuracy due to the individual barcode on the back of each. This will aid in finding client records and assist with the correct allocation of Bonus Points.Problem:
I currently don’t have a website, so is the loyalty scheme still relevant to me?Solution:
YES! While the website makes it easy and convenient for you and your client, they can still find out how many points they have and what they can redeem them for by contacting your business. However, if you would like a website, this is also something that CFL/P2P Limited can help you establish, along with ways of encouraging your clients to use it thereby reducing the number of incoming phone calls.Problem:
One of my suppliers does not want to be a part of the Bonus Points programme.Solution:
You do not need to allocate points to those suppliers’ products so when purchased, no points are collected. However, you should explain to the supplier that they may see a slight loss in sales as other suppliers are willing to participate in the programme. Clients are more likely to choose products that they receive points on as opposed to ones that they do not.