As the credit crunch in the US has driven
consumer spending down, retailers are looking towards innovative
schemes to get customers back into their stores. With the more
precise consumer data that can now be captured, retailers are
targeting their regular customers with bespoke incentives that are
based on information such as their personal shopping habits and
Aside from fresh ways to market to customers,
merchants are also looking to get creative with loyalty membership
cards. Although the average US household has a dozen loyalty
memberships, it is estimated by retail advocacy magazine Consumer
Reports that almost half of all shoppers carry just one or two
store membership cards with them.


In order to make these schemes more appealing for the shopper,
Portland-based loyalty marketing and technology company Chockstone
has unveiled SingleSwipe, a unique new identification programme
that allows credit and debit card companies and merchants to attach
merchant loyalty programmes to a customer’s existing credit or
debit card.

Once cardholders register their card, they will
be able to collect rewards points from any merchant within the
Chockstone network. The company currently processes about 25
million consumer accounts across all of its loyalty and rewards
programmes, and it is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of these will
switch over to the SingleSwipe application in the first half of
The SingleSwipe application allows for customer
data to be collected, and by using real-time decision and marketing
capabilities, it can send offers at the POS on the bottom of
receipts that are personalised from the customer profile that has
been built through purchase history.
“Chockstone is really focused behind the scenes
on enabling retailers, merchants and restaurateurs to better
understand what their customers are doing, and achieving that with
technology in a more systematic way,” says Chockstone CEO Jeff
Lipp. “What we are enabling is for individual customers to raise
their hand at the POS when they are making their purchase.”
Chockstone currently processes transactions at
approximately 50,000 locations across North America and works
closely with both other processors as well as card issuers. Lipp
notes that the one common thread he is noticing across all these
different sectors is an attempt to achieve this type of
personalisation at the moment of purchase.
One key benefit that has been demonstrated is
the speed of transactions that a loyalty scheme consolidated onto a
credit or debit card helps to maintain. Chockstone does a lot of
work with the quick service restaurant (QSR) sector – sandwich
store franchise Subway is one of its key clients.
Following the recent rollout of the SingleSwipe
application, Chockstone is currently working in conjunction with a
lot of its QSR clients to enable the feature at the POS. Lipp notes
that the most popular merchants with consumers for this loyalty
scheme are the ones that are most frequently used as opposed to
retailers where the purchase volume may be higher. “We’ve found
that this programme works really effectively when you have that
potential for a high frequency of customers coming back. It really
becomes top of mind, the everyday opportunity.”

Future trends

At present, there appears to be a Janus-like approach towards the
marketing of loyalty programmes among US retailers. While the
economic downturn has led to a drive for increased frugality,
merchants will still be looking to bolster consumer spending
through enhanced loyalty schemes which will invariably cost

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As marketing departments are being held far
more accountable for any investments made at present, programmes
like SingleSwipe allow for exacting cost/benefit analysis down to
the penny, according to Lipp.
“You can look at exactly what the return on
investment (ROI) is. It really becomes a game of math. If you
compare that to the marketing spends on discounts, coupons and
advertising, it can be really tough to figure out the ROI on things
like that,” he adds. “There has been a flight to quality, where
quality means ‘I know what I’m getting out of my
Similarly, Lipp currently sees a lot of rewards
points programmes offered by credit card issuers that are
struggling to retain their consumer base. “We solve that final mile
problem, where we can actually do things in real-time at the POS,”
he says. “It plays nicely with the SingleSwipe concept – we have
enabled that platform, so now a lot of the issuers want to make
sure that when people are registering their card they are pulling
out their credit card.”