It's always the same problem with loyalty schemes: you'll have your payment card ready at the till, only to realise that you've forgotten your loyalty card. Again.
This is the driver behind Bink, a new app which combines your payment card with your loyalty cards to make shopping that bit less stressful.
Bink’s CEO, Lee Clarke, came up with the idea at an airport Boots just before a family holiday. He lost out on huge number of loyalty points because he forgot his Advantage card.
Why loyalty cards aren’t effective
Cards haven’t been all that successful in driving loyalty. It seems easy enough to lure shoppers in, but the challenge is keeping them engaged.
Last year, a study from Mastercard revealed that 92% of UK shoppers are registered with a loyalty scheme but 20% of us haven’t redeemed any points.
Figures show that the average shopper is signed up to just three loyalty schemes. loveMONEY readers are much the same – 59% said they have between three and 10 loyalty cards.
Clarke thinks that the downfall of loyalty schemes is that they don’t truly meet the needs of the people who use them. Many don’t even know what they’re getting from a loyalty scheme – they just say yes on the spot.
“Customers sign up expecting tailored rewards, or sign up to take advantage of an instant deal but forget to use them because they become useless to their needs,” he told loveMONEY.
“Understanding your customer is the most significant factor to making a good loyalty scheme. Creating tailored, personalised rewards helps establish a relationship with the customer and it is so simple to do.”
Bink works well for retailers too as they can send coupons, e-receipts and content that’s relevant to their customers. Better yet, they go somewhere where shoppers are more likely to see them.
It’ll also alert users to loyalty schemes of stores that they shop at regularly but aren’t signed up to.
A faff and a half
[ADVERT] Apparently, shoppers rummage around for between eight and 11 seconds at the till to find their loyalty card.
“Time is of the essence and it is no surprise that customers don’t always use their loyalty cards at the till – they want to pay and move on,” Lee explains.
He says that Bink will save users eight seconds at the till, but with the average Brit spending 52 days of their lives in queues, it could really make a difference.
So, how does the app actually work?
Once you’ve signed up, you’ll need to enter your payment and loyalty card details.
You can choose what payment method you’d like to use: Bink works with credit cards, debit cards and prepaid cards.
The app will link your payment card to your loyalty schemes. From there it’ll auto-collect points and rewards from a range of retailers including Evans, Gap, HMV, Avios, Harvester and Morrisons.
On your next shop, just scan your payment card at the till and the app will do everything else.
If you shop at a store where you’re not involved in the loyalty scheme, it will tell you how many points you would have earned if you were part of it, giving you the option to sign up right then and there.
And as your loyalty card is linked to your rewards, you can track your spend as well as the points you’ve earned.
In much the same way as a password manager, having everything in one place means that you don’t have to remember loads of codes and usernames.
A round-up like this could help you gain a greater understanding of your spending habits too.
Just be aware that the app won't work on rooted devices or on custom operating systems.
Safety and security
To protect your details, the app is fully PCI compliant (level 1), the highest standard of security when it comes to handling personal information.
All data is securely stored in a ‘vault’ so that if your phone gets lost or stolen you can simply log into your phone with your account details and change your password to secure your account.
Your phone won’t actually display sensitive information like your bank card number, so even if a thief can gets hold of your phone, they won’t be able to see the details.
For an extra layer of protection, you can add a fingerprint or PIN on the Apple version of the app (it's coming soon on Android), just in case your phone falls into the wrong hands.
Death of loyalty cards?
Clarke is confident of one thing: loyalty cards are on their way out.
“Plastic loyalty cards are going the same way as plastic shopping bags, and payment linked loyalty will be the future” he said.
If you’d prefer a loyalty card, it’s only really worth going for if you actually plan to use it. Read about the UK’s favourite loyalty schemes at The top loyalty cards for shoppers: Boots, Nectar, Waterstones and more.