Zócalo - How We Built a Better Loyalty System
The Business Case
Last year, we began talking with a major payment processing company. They had a number of ideas about how to bring their platform to the cutting edge. One important way included working with third-party developers to create a product ecosystem around their payment process.
Whole Punk was asked a simple question - what would our ideal loyalty system look like if we could tie it into the their platform? How could we create the best loyalty experience for small merchants?
Armed with that question, we went to work.
Investigating the Domain
We started by asking some questions. Why do merchants set up loyalty programs? How are loyalty programs being done right now? What's frustrating about loyalty today? And, at it's very core, what is a loyalty program?
Here's what we found: though large chains may use their loyalty programs as a way to track customer behaviour, small merchants simply want to incentivize customers to become regular customers. Smaller merchants tended to go simple - they'd have printed loyalty cards that they would initial or stamp when a customer made the correct purchase. That meant that cards could get lost, or people would forget to stamp them, or customers would get in the habit of answering 'no' when asked if they had a loyalty card.
At the core, a loyalty program is just keeping track of when a customer buys an item repeatably, and then letting them know when they were eligible for a discounted or free item.
So we asked ourselves - could we design a better way to keep track?
We started at the whiteboard.