SodaCard, the next big thing

They're not our typical Next Big Thing selection. For starters they're not an agency. But brothers Doug and Matthew Aitken are hard at work reinventing some long-held notions about loyalty marketing and for that reason alone, the industry should sit up and take notice.

Called SodaCard, it's described as an in-store rewards and retail marketing platform that allows brands and retailers to create deeper relationships with their customers using self-service tablets and mobile-based rewards systems.

Using emerging tablet technology, the SodaCard platform allows brands to start direct communications with walk-in customers at their retail locations and to continue the exchange online.

The interactive platform offers each individual a completely personalised loyalty journey with unique, experiential rewards to keep customers engaged over a long time.

Anecdotally, the service has proven to outperform traditional punch cards.

It took one F&B chain five years to sign up 1,000 customers, but after using SodaCard it was able to surpass that milestone in less than four weeks.

Since its launch in October 2012, it has attracted more than 100 merchants, including Subway Sandwiches, Caffé HABITU and Ippei-An Ramen as well as dining groups Elite Concepts, DiVino Group and El Grande Group.

But the fascinating thing about this company is not just the tablets that people see when they make a purchase - it's the treatment of the data that is unlocking potential that traditional loyalty schemes have been unable to provide.

Traditional reward programmes only attract the top 10% of purchasers, who are already regular customers.

The Aitken brothers are no strangers to the loyalty space. The pair were behind ValuUp, a consumer group-buying concept that was acquired by Dealised in 2011.

"We firmly believe there's a gap in the market for a platform that helps businesses acquire, understand and market to different segments of their audience through unique customer rewards," Douglas says.

"Traditional reward programmes only attract the top 10% of purchasers, who are already regular customers. They ignore opportunities to communicate and upsell to in-store browsers, thereby failing to capture untapped revenue from a huge portion of their walk-in customer base."

Now with backing from heavy hitting investors such as SingTel and Yuuwa Capital, an early stage venture capital firm based in Western Australia, SodaCard is expanding quickly.

The brothers say they are installing up to four SodaCard systems a week and are soon expected to announce a major retail partnership.

Yes, agencies look out, there's a new wave of technology start-ups looking to show you up and eat away at your market. SodaCard is one of many we're sure to see more of.