THE CLARUS Blog

5 Steps for Conducting Your Loyalty Program Technology Assessment

Your business and marketing teams are hooked on the idea of launching a loyalty program.

They’ve already had a loyalty program strategy and alignment session and loyalty program design and validation meeting.

And they’ve figured out a profitable loyalty program financial model as well as a loyalty program marketing communications plan.

Now, it’s time to talk technology.

You know it is the right decision for your brand, but you’re concerned about the implementation.

  • Where do you begin?
  • What does implementation look like?
  • How does this affect the rest of the organization?
  • And, more importantly, how can you implement while still moving forward with the organization’s overall road map?

As the owner of the company’s IT road map you know it is a mile long and contains several large initiatives.

This article will give you the tools for a successful loyalty program technology assessment for your brand.

(And, just maybe, your name will appear on the nominee list for President’s award at the next company awards ceremony.)

 

1. Review Your Partner’s Loyalty Program Integration Options

Let’s take a deeper dive to figure out how to help the entire organization reap the benefits of a loyalty program.

It starts with carefully reviewing your partner’s integration options and understanding the pros and cons of each.

Obtain implementation documentation for your team to review and start to think about how it could work.

Access to your loyalty partner’s API Developer Portal is a great place to start. This document will provide your tech team with an idea of how much of a lift it will be to integrate with your partner’s loyalty platform.

Your potential loyalty partner should schedule a series of technical and integration deep dive discussions with your loyalty provider.

This is the perfect time to bring in your team.

You should attend the sessions with your technical architect, tech lead, and product owner/program manager, as well as the business owner, for full context sharing and to understand:

  • How your loyalty partner can support your goals and KPIs from a technology standpoint.
  • How your customer data and payment information will be passed back and forth.
  • If your potential partner’s loyalty platform will mesh well with your existing systems.
  • If they have any recommendations to make for a more seamless and faster integration.
  • Their best practices and recommended approach for each facet of the program.
  • Their vision of the “story” from the eyes of the consumer, touching all channels and functions including acquisition, benefit presentation, merchant processing, and usage.

At Clarus, before even getting to the technology assessment, we hold multi-session, multi-day collaboration brainstorm sessions with all our retail partners to align on the overall strategy, design and validate the program, produce a profitable financial model, and figure out a marketing plan.

This allows us to understand your goals and capabilities.

We discuss options for batch vs. real time data exchange and payment processor capabilities and offer best practice solutions from our experience.

We make sure the integration components align with your system not only at launch but well beyond.

It’s important to lay out all those steps to truly figure out the technology requirements.

 

2. Conduct a Technology Gap Analysis

Conduct a gap analysis to assess your own technology stack to understand the feasibility of each option.

Now that you have the recommendations from your loyalty provider, look to your inhouse team to execute the technology analysis.

Research all the integration points and data sources to understand what options your current technology pairs best with and determine if there are any customizations needed.

At Clarus, we will guide your team through a thorough exercise to help us understand your current tech stack and what would pair well with it.

Clarus has experience connecting with several POS vendors, ecommerce platforms, and merchant processors. Being familiar with so many platforms affords us an advantage in how to integrate but also knowing the gotchas to avoid.

Do not hesitate to ask if the provider is willing to customize something on their end.

We pride ourselves on customization.

Loyalty differentiations from a competitor’s program can be a major benefit to an organization.  Those differentiators often require unique implementation.

For example, we recently customized a member status solution that allowed our retail partner’s ecommerce site to recognize members while they are shopping and enhance their experience.

We also created data feeds directly to a client’s backend system that allows for an enhanced customer experience to a valuable private label card customer segment they were trying to reach.

Throughout the process look for opportunities where you can pair or tweak a deliverable to achieve something else on your own road map.

Most of all, be sure the recommendations align with your company’s overall goals.

 

3. Put Together a Plan for Your Minimum Viable Product

While we encourage all our retail partners to shoot high during the loyalty program design and validation workshop, we realize that it’s important to get the basics right first.

What does that mean?

It means putting together a comprehensive plan for MVP (minimum viable product).

When most loyalty program launch, MVP usually means going live at 70%-80% of the final program design.

The iterative follow on release process allow for any necessary tweaks identified from analyzing live market data.

All the bells and whistles are added over time.

Subsequent iterative releases continue enhancing the experience (timeline/milestone) that match your company’s appetite for launch and beyond.

 

4. Put Together a Carefully Planned Loyalty Program Launch Timeline

Finally, having a plan to launch, test, read results, and iterate accordingly is critical for success.

Every program implementation and adoption are different for every organization and its customer base, but a carefully planned timeline will guide you to success.

You should decide which functions will be included for launch, which functions are needed for post launch, and which functions may become more important when you start to analyze the data.

At Clarus, we provide our retail partners with a very comprehensive reporting package tailored to their needs and a team of analysts that are constantly monitoring it.

We will make recommendations on when to launch additional components or make tweaks to existing items in market.

This analysis and decision-making done upfront will provide the organization with the best timeline and get everyone excited about the progress as well as the impending launch.

A well thought out timeline shared, tweaked, and continually reviewed by the organization will keep everyone on time, target, and task.

 

5. Confirm Your Organization’s Readiness to Launch Your Loyalty Program

Now that you have a plan for technology implementation, you need to ensure it aligns with the rest of the organization.

Work with your program manager to conduct road shows to departments around the organization.

Give each an opportunity to understand the program’s impact on them and provide feedback that might require additional planning.

Even after a successful implementation, your organization should expect to rely on your team to continue to iterate as you refine the program.

And of course, all our retail partners rely on our team at Clarus to manage their premium loyalty programs from launch to infinity.

Learn more about our loyalty program managed services.

Work with the leadership team to set expectations and ensure everyone understands the overall impact.

 

A Successful Loyalty Program is a Team Effort

Every organization is different, but we can all agree that a highly engaged customer base is a shared goal.

And a huge step in reaching that goal is to perform a true technology assessment to identify any potential gaps that could prevent you from a successful loyalty program launch.

When your organization moves forward with a loyalty program, following these careful considerations will help ensure success.

If you’d like help assessing your current technology, or if you just want to talk loyalty, reach out to us.

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