“More and more companies are recognizing that they are accumulating ever increasing amounts of data but not necessarily gaining business insights from it. The missing link is the transformation of data into information that is comprehensive, consistent, correct and current. We will continue to leverage on data analytics to drive value and growth to our partners. Data management & analytics has been the real game changer and has revolutionized the industry. PAYBACK leverage on social media’s growing user base, using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to engage with customers directly. The reason being that social networking provides an ease and comfort for people to connect with brands at a much faster pace than ever before.” Said Gaurav Khurana, Head Marketing, Online & Affiliate Partnerships, PAYBACK India
In an interaction with MediAvataar India, Gaurav spoke about his platform and how Indian consumers are ready for such a shift.
Here is the complete Q&A...
MediAvataar: How would you define PAYBACK for consumers and your partners?
Gaurav: PAYBACK is today one of India’s largest coalition loyalty program offering its members a multitude of benefits over traditional, stand-alone customer loyalty schemes restricted to a single brand or company. The power of PAYBACK stems from amalgamating loyalty benefits from many attractive partners: using one single card, members earn loyalty points when they shop at a wide range of merchants and brands - offline and online. With over 50 in-store and online partner brands, PAYBACK has been the only successful brand in India to build a diverse portfolio of partner brands with leaders in all service categories like Central, Big Bazaar, ICICI Bank, HPCL, Hi-Care, eBay, BookMyShow, MakeMyTrip, American Express, Formula 1 Hotels and more with options to earn and redeem points and avail rewards. Moreover, the program has a wide reach covering almost everyday consumer spend categories ranging from groceries, travel, entertainment, apparel and more. As a result, members are able to accumulate a large number of points quickly.
A coalition of strong partners united on the common PAYBACK platform also multiplies redemption opportunities. The combination of rapid accumulation of points and their easy redemption for desirable rewards is what makes PAYBACK so attractive. Other benefits include discounts on purchases through points earned or through coupons and exclusive special offers. All this has helped PAYBACK stay ahead of the market as a specialist in building coalition and adding value to both the partners and consumers alike while contributing to the growing loyalty market in India. The brand has received an overwhelming response in the country with over 50 million members already associated with the platform and growing continuously.
MediAvataar: What do you think sets you apart?
Gaurav: Coalition loyalty is being looked at as a game-changer for service categories in India. It offers a diverse portfolio of partner brands in-store and online, with options to earn and spend points, and avail rewards with a single entry point. Being a multi-partner program, PAYBACK has an edge over other traditional loyalty companies. The power of PAYBACK stems from pooling loyalty benefits from many attractive partners along with the competitive advantage through its differentiated offering: Using one single card, members earn loyalty points when they shop at a wide range of different merchants and brands - offline and online. The accumulated points via PAYBACK can be spent across its partner brands as well as the extensive rewards catalogue of PAYBACK. The product and services categories covered in the program account for nearly 70% of a member’s daily shopping requirements.
It offers the consumers a truly unique shopping experience and drives customer retention through on-going engagement. Customers, today have 24X7 access to the brands they love through social media and mobile devices. So, loyalty program like PAYBACK which is aligned with social media and mobile commerce increasingly impact the brand experience and the stickiness of the consumer. With the advent of a large digital population and e-commerce industry, along with increased penetration of smart phones, PAYBACK is poised to grow at an exponential pace with new partner additions and new consumer acquisitions in the network. We believe in driving customer engagement through an integrated approach. Our constant engagement with customers ensures that customer retention is continued.
MediAvataar: How do you look at the competition?
Gaurav: We are currently one of the industry leaders in the coalition loyalty space in India. With over 50 in-stores and online partner brands, PAYBACK has been the only successful brand in India to build a diverse partner portfolio and over 50 million members already associated with the platform. We continue to benchmark ourselves against our own potential and targets. We need to invest in our capabilities to ensure we keep pace with the changing demographic, technology and evolving needs of our customer base.
MediAvataar: How do you think the recent demonetisation episode helped you or will propel your platform further?
Gaurav: The government’s move towards a cashless economy and digital India is definitely driving consumers to adopt digital technologies like internet banking, e-commerce, m-commerce, plastic money, reward schemes and more. It will change the way consumers used to spend in past on their daily needs. The need of the hour is to embrace the digital way and with high penetration of devices and technology, consumers have numerous options to make cashless transactions.
Spurred by smartphone penetration, the retail industry is seeing rapid technological innovation and consumers are getting ready to adopt digitisation. This will enable retailers to collect more information on consumers and preferences and predict behavior and deliver as per the demand. The long term benefits which all retailers, large and small alike, will enjoy is maximum operational efficiencies, more ways to collect data and predict consumer behaviour & shopping preferences and more optimized marketing campaigns. And, in such a scenario value additions like rewards, loyalty programs and offers will become important differentiators for consumer delight. Programs like PAYBACK which enable the reward ecosystem supported by a strong analytics suite can prove to be of great relevance.
From the consumer’s perspective, the digital payment modes are easy to operate and widely accepted by most service providers and e-commerce portals. Moreover, this when coupled with loyalty points, allows them to avail better discounts and other rewards. Loyalty programs today are no longer solely focused on a transactional loyalty; they have now become a destination through data-centric marketing communications that is catering to a sustainable and measureable change in customer behaviour.
MediAvataar: How do you provide your partners with insights into their customer's current needs which help the partner plan their campaigns?
Gaurav: PAYBACK Platform helps retailers in manifold ways:
• We integrate our solution with the existing POS/ERP infrastructure
• We capture customer data to the last mile (basket & product level data)
• We run in-depth analytics driven by multi-dimensional view of spend & usage patterns
• We enable retailers to gain real-time insights into customer behaviour and propose ways to engage and retain
• We provide integration with the PAYBACK rewards database
• We personalize multi-channel communications
The insights are used for targeted engagement campaigns through a multi-channel ecosystem; E-mailers, SMS, web, social media and so on. These enable retailers to plan interventions throughout the customer lifecycle and plan retention and engagement activities instead of a single-minded one for all approach. This business intelligence (BI) is relevant specifically in cases of banking and retail industries which move a high volume of data and need to create much sharper offerings in order to create differentiation in the competitive landscape.
For PACKBACK apparel and fashion is the biggest segment, followed by grocery. This segment sees high value in loyalty programs as it ensures customer stickiness. Further advanced analytics help determine customer behaviour and retailers are able to customise programs for each of their customer segments and also engage inactive customers.
MediAvataar: How do you plan to take this platform further, marketing wise?
Gaurav: More and more companies are recognizing that they are accumulating ever increasing amounts of data but not necessarily gaining business insights from it. The missing link is the transformation of data into information that is comprehensive, consistent, correct and current.
We will continue to leverage on data analytics to drive value and growth to our partners. Data management & analytics has been the real game changer and has revolutionized the industry. PAYBACK leverage on social media’s growing user base, using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to engage with customers directly. The reason being that social networking provides an ease and comfort for people to connect with brands at a much faster pace than ever before.
At PAYBACK, we believe in embracing technology to constantly create a more rewarding experience for our customers. We have introduced many interesting products to enhance the customer experience and offer them a chance to maximise the full potential of the program. Some notable among them being:
PAYBACK Bingo is our online comparison and shopping platform which enables users to shop more effectively. The platform not only provides a single view of the best offers across more than 30+ e-tailers including Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal and more but also has user reviews, coupons and rewards for customers every month including a higher potential to earn points.
Another innovative solution is PAYBACK Everybuy which facilitates consumers to earn points on daily purchases just by uploading receipts of their transactions for categories ranging from F&B, Personal care to Home care and more and these points can be redeemed on the PAYBACK Partner network.
Moreover, PAYBACK was among the first to launch Mobile Identifier as a unique customer identifier. Customers no longer need to carry their loyalty card for their transactions as they can simply quote their mobile number to earn or redeem their points; online, over the phone or at the POS by simply linking their card to their registered mobile number.
MediAvataar: Who all are you partnering with currently?
Gaurav: PAYBACK is multi-brand loyalty program with more than 50 online and offline and affiliate brand partners across a diverse kitty of categories. Brands range from fuel leader HPCL, to banking partners ICICI Bank, American Express, daily needs partner Big Bazaar, travel portals; Makemytrip and Tripadvisor, apparel brands; Central, FBB, Brand Factory, Rare Rabbit, entertainment portal; Bookmyshow, online portals; eBay, Voylla, Naaptol, electronics and home décor brands; eZone & Hometown & affiliate partners like Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, Jabong, Myntra just to name a few. The network is growing at a very fast pace.
MediAvataar: Do you think that Indian consumer is truly ready for the rewards game?
Gaurav: With the advent of new age businesses and technological capabilities, there has been remarkable change in consumer behaviour and their affinity to brands and offers. The demographics are changing and majority of new age people are having higher retail spend. From fuel, apparels, entertainment, travel, financial services and daily needs all these categories are leading to tangible retail spend. In such a scenario, coalition loyalty program would be game-changer as it offers a diverse portfolio of partner brands in-store and online, with options to earn and spend points, and avail rewards. Loyalty programme which consolidates the reward system will go a long way in ensuring customer stickiness.
MediAvataar: What has been the most interesting thing during your tenure with PAYBACK so far?
Gaurav: Every project at PAYBACK has been interesting and exciting. It was great to be instrumental in on-boarding some of the leading partner brands on the network like Samsung, Unilever, Trident Hotels, Carzonrent, Easy Cabs, etc. Moreover setting up and scaling our affiliate business model – PAYBACK Bingo has been another interesting initiative.
MediAvataar: What’s there in the pipeline for the platform?
Gaurav: We are seeing a healthy rise in the loyalty transactions over the past few years in India. More real-time and personalized experiences delivered to the customers have been the actual reasons behind this upsurge. Understanding this scenario, we aim to:
• Continue to acquire new partnerships,
• Focus on adding value to our existing network of offline and online partners
• Continue to innovate and offer a rewarding experience to our members
• Educate shoppers today on the advantages of loyalty points and how best to utilize them
The idea is to grow our network through our initiatives as driving loyalty, engagement and customer experience is the future of customer acquisition and retention.