From expected to exceptional – the year that brands ‘could’ (and should) really step up

This article is sponsored by Collinson.

For retailers, 2020 will always be remembered as the new era of retail. Against a backdrop of economic decline and smaller consumer wallets, there was a greater need for brands from all verticals to step up and be more relevant and exciting to customers, and crucially, to drive more revenue for brands.

We’ll explore why and how brands should go above and beyond for their customers; seek the most exceptional experience at all times; as well as highlight the importance of data and diversified revenue streams in an era of payment convergence.

The evolving market – acceleration of eCommerce: the move from offline to online shopping

Thanks to developments in technology and the fast-changing payments environment, it is much easier for consumers to shop online. How we shop and then pay for our goods and services continues to be reimagined.

With this new commerce technology underpinning consumer shopping habits and payment behaviour, the future is heading towards eCommerce at breakneck speed, particularly in Asia, already the world’s largest eCommerce marketplace, with continuous growth predicted.

Online shopping now dominates the commerce landscape and not just among the younger generation. The pandemic has forced an older generation of consumers to embrace eCommerce, and their expectations in terms of security, speed, simplicity, transparency and value are just as high as their younger counterparts.

Finding new customers via new channels

With more retailers needing to move online, coupled with the pandemic-driven challenges to meet increasing demand and higher expectations from customers, there is a growing requirement for retailers to find new ways to be more versatile with their strategies to reach new customers and provide an enhanced experience.

For instance, Asiana Airlines recognised its customers had been prevented from travelling for more than a year, and so was looking for an enhanced way to reward, reassure and reconnect with customers. As such, it enhanced their rewards programme, subsequently providing an additional way for travellers to build points and air miles with a range of retailers, which they can put towards a dream holiday once lockdowns lift.

Using payment linked rewards to better understand customer behaviour

Yet finding new channels is only one part of the challenge. The greatest potential failure currently facing retailers is the inability to adapt to customers’ ever-changing needs and behaviours. As consumers become all the more discerning and demanding, brands must ensure they put their customers first.

As such, transaction data is one of the most important elements that brands need to take into account moving forward, as it provides important insights into consumer behaviour and allows retailers to get to know their customer better. This in turn enables them to deliver relevant offers and better rewards that meet customers’ needs.

The key to getting hold of this valuable customer transaction data lies in payment-linked rewards, demonstrated by the evolution of loyalty and rewards programmes which reward consumers based on their spending behaviour. This approach gives the brand a greater opportunity for more everyday interaction with its customers and provides a valuable source of data, allowing them to gain insights into their customers’ behaviour and shopping habits.

The best way to ensure this approach is mutually beneficial to the consumer, the programme and the retailer, is to work with a specialist payment-linked rewards provider who will enable the convergence of payment information and rewards programme data in order to create a digital loyalty commerce ecosystem.

A commerce ecosystem that delivers brand engagement

There is a growing need for loyalty and rewards programmes to evolve and provide more seamless ways for customers to interact with brands.

To get consumers to truly engage with a programme, retailers need to offer them the best and most personalised offers, in a highly targeted manner at the right time, and deliver a programme which offers greater choice in ways to earn and redeem rewards.

In this commerce ecosystem, everyday interactions are created with consumers (members), through a programme, with advertised offers from retailers. The consumer is after an exceptional offer from their programme, but they also want it to be personalised, relevant and timely. The programme wants the ongoing engagement with their customer base to ensure that both spend and loyalty remain consistently high. It’s also looking to monetise its customer base.

The retailer is essentially after a good return on ad spend, incrementally – both in terms of winning new customers and in increased spending from existing customers – and attribution, with the knowledge these wins could not have been generated through other channels.

Meaningful brand engagement is key for rewards programmes, as are relevant offers and incentives. At the same time, retailers are facing fierce competition for the consumer dollar.

This environment presents an opportunity for retailers to work with a rewards programme through a specialist commerce provider to secure the engagement of today’s consumer, and leveraging the powers of loyalty currency and unique marketing channels to deliver a truly dynamic value exchange.

In an ever-changing marketplace, the importance of transaction data in helping deliver insights into customer behaviour should never be underestimated. It is these insights that will ultimately help brands to present more personalised and relevant real-time offers and rewards, which will enable everyday transaction relevance for programmes. That’s the real power of payment-linked rewards.


Collinson is a global leader in customer benefits and loyalty. For over 30 years, it has been chosen by the world’s leading payment networks, 1,400-plus banks, 90-plus airlines and 20-plus hotel groups to craft customer experiences that win a competitive edge.