ONE Rewardz: Royalty on Loyalty

Sudhir Raikar,  IIFL | Mumbai | September 29, 2015 10:07 IST

First used as a noun in 1909, by Nobel laureate Karl Ferdinand Braun to imply the undesired coupling of electronic circuit components, Feedback is today one of the most widely circulated words worldwide. And yet in the context of customer experience, it has long been a laid back term for most corporates. And with tangible reason too.
 
Decoding the subjectivity of a customer’s response, largely emotional in nature, calls for a deeper commitment to collect and analyse contextual data emanating from diverse touch points, an endeavor most players till date found either excessive or elective. But in a predominantly digital world thriving on mobility, supply-side players can no longer undermine the critical import of gauging the customer’s mind which, especially given the all-pervading impact of social media, can make or mar a product or service, in a matter of minutes, with a few electronic clicks. No wonder, Tesla chief Elon Musk observes, “I think it's very important to have a feedback loop, where you're constantly thinking about what you've done and how you could be doing it better.
 
ONE Rewardz is an integrated mobile platform, helping brands engage with their customers 24x7 and drawing invaluable business-boosting insights from the engagement. Brainchild of Ashwin Meshram, an IITian and seasoned Business Engineering and Analytics professional and Sunpreet Singh Bindra, a B-Tech in Electronics and Telecommunications and an ex- investment banker. As consumers, they were quick to take note of the significant gap between consumers and brand owners in the context of feedback management, where sharing feedback with brands and receiving prompt response from them was invariably a rare occurrence. The main cause, they found, was the absence of an integrated, easy to use and multi-featured communication platform. This prompted the duo to come up with ONE Rewardz for 24x7 personalized communication in real time aimed at quicker processing and resolution of customer feedback.
 
The thought churn led them to the largely untapped customer touch point of loyalty programs. They found most brands stuck with merely transactional loyalty programs that seemed to drift away from the larger cause of customer gratification towards sales generation that was only a by product of the engagement. They took it upon themselves to maximize the potential of loyalty programs, by turning them into potent customer engagement tools critical to the core business of brands.
 
ONE Rewardz enables brands to hold interactions, as against conducting mere transactions, with their customers. By virtue of features like 24x7 connectivity with customers via Android and iOS mobile based platform, feedback-driven association, targeted promotions via image and video notifications to existing customers and a geo-fencing feature for boosting store walk-ins, the ONE Rewardz value prop is a disruptive loyalty program tailored to the diverse needs of today’s digital world, currently catering to brands in Food & Beverage, Retail and Entertainment. ONE Rewardz has two offices, one in Mumbai and other in Gurgaon (Delhi NCR). At present, they are a team of 20 and plan to expand in the near future. Seed funded by private investors; they are looking at raising Series A in the next quarter.
 
Excerpts from the conversation:
 
What prompted the name change from Sqy! Rewards to ONE Rewardz?
The name was changed in line with our product evolution. We have created a platform that serves as a bridge between brands and consumers, bringing various engagement functions under one platform.The intention is to christen our vision of bringing all brands’ rewards under “one” umbrella for consumers.The name ONE Rewardz signifies the single access point for consumers to access all their reward and loyalty points from numerous brands, thus mapping their entire lifestyle onto one single platform.
 
What's the ONE REWARDZ value prop? What makes it unique?
 
By being a part of ONE Rewardz network, brands get the following benefits:
  • ONE Rewardz is a complete customer engagement solution that provides a 24x7 connectivity between brands and consumers by boosting in-store and online interactions
  • The platform runs brand customer loyalty programs, encourages customer feedback and provides detailed real-time analytics on its customers. It  gives insights on customer spending patterns at an aggregated as well as individual customer level to brands
  • It provides a platform to promote special offers & deals directly to consumers through image & video notifications and leverages social media for targeted marketing. It streamlines all notifications on one platform eliminating the need to send multiple messages
  • Brands can create customer segmentations and decide what rewards to grant to different customer groups
  • Geo-fencing feature helps brands in increasing store walk-ins and probability of sale
  • It provides an effective platform to run cross-branded offers. Customers can earn points with one brand and redeem them with partner brands

On the consumer end, they get access to all rewards at one place which can be viewed at any time, any place. Eliminating the need of carrying physical loyalty cards, ONE Rewardz provides a cohesive mobile platform to end consumers to interact with different brands. All crucial information about customer’s favourite brands, on-going offers, deals and their existing loyalty points are available on ONE Rewardz; accessible right on their mobile phones. It proves to be a one-stop destination for interacting with their preferred brands.

In today’s digital world, brands are truly realizing the significance of customer engagement. They are open to feedback from customers and look to immediately act upon it to make their business sustainable, not merely successful. There’s a need for real time analytics to understand customers better to improve deliveries and constantly stand out vis-a-vis the competition.

As per recent studies, 25% Indians check their phones 100+ times a day. Mobile phones are the closest to customers at all times. Brands are realising the potential of m-commerce like never before. Loyalty programs when combined with mobile, can lead to high customer engagement which will eventually help brands in increased customer retention and open avenues for customer acquisition.  Brands now feel the need to gainfully adopt this fertile combo by associating with ONE Rewardz to strike enduring and rewarding conversations with their customers in real time.
 
What technology powers the platform? The front end, back end and middleware?
ONE Rewardz is free to download on Google Play and App Store for consumers.In the absence of the ONE Rewardz application, consumers get notifications through SMS to avail of the platform benefits on their mobile phones. We provide a SaaS platform for brands to interact with consumers. For analytics, we have developed a unique algorithm that makes available unique insights to brands in a simple dashboard format. This algorithm is ever evolving with continuous updates enriching the existing analytics setup.

Our platform can seamlessly integrate with a brand’s POS systems (online and offline). As each brand has its own payment gateway system, we did not require having our gateway. Not having our own gateway also allows us to be available for all kinds of brands who would wish to integrate with us.
 
Is your geo fencing solution complemented by Location Analytics, say in anticipating customer’s future aspirational needs? 
Yes, we have location-based triggers for geo-fencing and also going a step further, we also map the lifestyle of the customer and accordingly send them triggers as per their product-choice, brand-choices, interests, etc in their vicinity along with the on-going offers at the outlets. The customers are therefore always aware about their favourite outlets, brands, availability of products of interests even in an unpopular geographical area. This feature is thus helpful as it enables targeted geo-fencing. It enables consumers to avail offers from their brand stores closest to them, while reminding them of the loyalty points they can redeem.
 
Does an analytic solution rooted in feedback run the risk of turning into a statistical storehouse of facts and figures?
Analytics is usually a backend function that analyzes consumer data over a period of time. The insights drawn from the analysis are immensely useful for making key business decisions. The critical part here is how effectively the business insights are drawn from the data as also the validity of these insights. ONE Rewardz provides a real-time analytics dashboard that provides insights as and when they occur, significantly increasing its effectiveness on business. Consumers are prompted for their feedback on their mobiles after every brand interaction, which is accessible to the decision makers of the brand in real-time such that any decisions following the interactions and feedback can be taken immediately. It offers brands with information about customers on individual as well as aggregate level, top selling products, their customer preferences, products that are in high demand, sellers with better conversions, best and least performing outlets, effect of marketing campaign on sales, and many invaluable insights.

FabFiera, an online marketplace to buy and sell unique ethnic apparels, Indian handicrafts, jewellery, have aptly quoted, “Three months into our association with ONE Rewardz, our customer engagement has gone from a staggering 10% to a remarkable 40%. The ONE Rewardz dashboard provides real-time analytics of customer experiences, taking customer engagement to the next level. Apart from customer loyalty, we have also observed a rise in customer acquisition as our brand’s loyal customers now act as brand ambassadors.”
 
Can your solution be customized to serve the needs of the BFSI sector? Say for managing credit card loyalty programs and may be even tracking and analyzing customer engagement for banks and brokerage houses? 
Absolutely! This system can be integrated with all kind of sectors and it would work very well for banking and brokerage house transactions. With so many credit card offerings in the market, banks are increasingly seeking options to engage more customers each day. ONE Rewardz can aid these engagements by incentivizing customers and influencing transactions through allowing targeted interactions. Same applies to Housing sector.
 
What was your key market strategy?
ONE Rewardz was primarily launched as a mobile app alone. After conducting a pilot, we realised that a part of our audience in the tier 2 and 3 markets in India still don’t own a smartphone. We immediately allowed consumers without a smart phone to access the services simply through phone number registrations thereby enabling SMS notifications. However, given the increasing penetration of internet and availability of affordable smartphones, we are now witnessing a furious adoption of our app.
 
ONE Rewardz is currently active in Mumbai and plans to expand operations into Delhi and Bangalore. It is currently associated with brands in the Retail, Entertainment and Food & Beverage sector. Our aim is to touch every aspect of a consumer’s lifestyle and bring every interaction with the brands on one single platform. The platform is scalable and customizable to integrate various engagement functions a brand wants to conduct to interact with its customers.  We are looking at being the “engagement partner” for every B2C brand and a “one-stop destination” for all consumers wanting to interact with multiple brands. We are also looking at enabling payments via the system soon.
This will allow customers to enjoy an end-to-end transaction with their favourite brands seamlessly. The app is only for Indian users at present.
 
About the founders:
 
Ashwin Meshram
Ashwin Meshram is an entrepreneur with a passion for analytics driven technology businesses. As the CEO of ONE Rewardz, he spearheads strategy and product design. He has successfully led several Business Engineering and Analytics initiatives for leading financial services companies across the globe. Ashwin is a 2006 batch IIT Bombay alumnus.
 
Sunpreet Singh Bindra
An ex- investment banker with a background in finance and management consulting, Sunpreet has worked with organizations such as Avalon Global Research and Tech Mahindra. At ONE Rewardz, he spearheads strategy development, execution and client relations besides being an integral part of product strategy. He’s a B-Tech graduate in Electronics and Telecommunications.