In the era we are in this day, retailing has taken a new shift as offline retailers seek to expand their market by seeking out new strategies to make themselves known and profit more. Many of the known offline retailers have shifted from being offline to online through different means (the use of web applications, click and collect, phone applications, etc.). Online retailers have shifted to offline retails as the get to know that no matter how fast and easy their services are, customers still prefer to interact with the goods they wish to buy by touching or feeling them. Offline retailers in seeking to be more relevant, though 90% of their stores are still offline, they use different marketing strategies some of which are mentioned below.
- Advertisements: This involves advertisement from various channels from television, to website ads, to physical banners, etc. This is a little effective as adverts are so random, and might capture a largely uninterested audience. This takes a lot of funds as adverts (especially electronic) are cost implicating and brings little returns.
- Loyalty Programs: These are programs helps retailers to reward customers for their patronage or loyalty. Customers are given rewards for purchasing or completing some speculated tasks as set by the retailer. This has also proven to be unproductive as many customers join many loyalty programs (from different retailers), which they only use very few as they couldn’t keep track of all loyalty programs they have entered.
- Discounts: discounts have been one of the most seemingly productive methods ever used by retailers to gain more customers and profit. One study showed that if a shoe was displayed for one hundred dollars, only a few customers will buy it. But if the same shoe was auctioned or displayed at $200 with a tag of 50% discount on it (thus returning the shoe to its original price of $100), more customers tend to buy it. This as productive as it may seem does not apply if the customer’s desire or personal interest is not known. One can imagine putting a discount on a product or good that many of the customers do not want or need. This method does not work for a long period of time as customers get to know the true price after a while (since the product may be sold in other shops at the actual price without discount).
These and many more are channels (methods, ways, tools) that have been explored by retailers but with only a little return compared to the amount spent to execute the method. Customers want their shopping experience to be personalized. They want retailers to know their shopping behavior, how they interact with products in their shops. One of the most effective ways to get customers to keep coming is to be able to study them personally and know or anticipate what they really want or desire.
The only thing that keeps me going to retailer’s store most of the times is his ability to know me personally through study or relationship knowing what I always buy and making it available. For me going to a particular store becomes tiring when I can’t find what I am looking for easily at the price I bought it last or if it out of stock. Trust is built when a retailer knows me or how I interact with his goods and he is able to anticipate what I want when I come around.
Universal Reward Protocol- URP
Spinning off a research project out of UC Berkeley and Ecole Polytechnique in 2015, the founders behind Universal Reward Protocol started building an end-to-end technology solution allowing physical retailers to identify and analyze each visitor’s shopping path and to interact with them before, during and after their shopping. It provides retailers with previously inaccessible data, to improve their understanding of the shoppers’ behavior and therefore their ability to serve and target them better.
Universal Reward Protocol- URP leverages the blockchain technology to put the right tool for great visibility and returns into the hands of retailers by helping them to collect customer’s personal shopping behaviors and rewarding them for their interactions and visits to their store (both online and offline). URP makes sure that the customer’s shopping behaviors to be collected from the customers are solely with their authorization.
Leveraging the Blockchain Tech
URP uses the blockchain because it allows for transparency as all transactions are visible to all and cannot be altered or deleted. It also allows the use of smart contracts which is self-customizing and self-executing. Smart contracts will allow retailers to set a target task and after the task is completed (the terms of the agreement as stated in the smart contract are fulfilled) by the customers in a loyalty campaign, the payment in URP token is distributed to them. This will help retailers to run a more transparent and easy payout loyalty campaign. The smart contract will also remove all intermediaries and allow retailers to interact or reward customers directly without having to go through complicated reward or tracking system.
Advantages for the retailers
On the platform, URP presents retailers with the opportunity to run reward or loyalty campaigns and adequately or effectively use smart contracts to reward their customers. Retailers can reward customers on visits to their stores or website in URP tokens. Retailers can also set a reward pool to be claimed by customers. They can also use the platform to request for customer’s personal shopping behavior in exchange for rewards (tokens) to help them improve on their services and yield more returns. The retailer’s dashboard also consists of many other tools to help in collecting and analyzing data collected from customers. Through the IoT Push and Play sensors and Proof of Behavior Data API integration can track customers’ real-time interaction in physical and online shops (only with the authorization of the customers) and reward them automatically with the smart contract.
Advantages to the Customers
Customers also get the opportunity to be rewarded by the retailers in many ways like visiting the physical or online store for the first time or subsequently, sharing personal data (or personal shopping behavior), completing different loyalty tasks, etc. The platform ensures that only data that the customers wish to share is released and this is done only at the authorization of the customer. This ensures the security of customers’ personal data on the platform. The platform also allows the customers to store their earned rewards from different retailers on the platform in a wallet. Another interesting feature of the platform is that a URP token redeemed from a retailer on the platform can be used to shop in another retailer’s shop on the platform. This will help eliminate keeping of multiple loyalty rewards which customers cannot keep track of.
For further information on Universal Reward Protocol, you can read:
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