Cash back! How Shopitize is reviving loyalty on mobile

Australian consumers are swamped by promotions and loyalty schemes. Such schemes offer plenty of upside for retailers but the benefits for both those buying from and supplying said retailers are less apparent.

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Australian consumers are swamped by promotions and loyalty schemes. Such schemes offer plenty of upside for retailers but the benefits for both those buying from and supplying said retailers are less apparent. 

That’s where Shopitize comes in.

Here’s how it works: people register via a white label version of the Shopitize app or mobile website. Companies wanting to delight their customers and gather valuable data about their purchasing behaviour partner with Shopitize and devise a cashback offer. (To take a real life example, liquor company Pernod Ricard Australia drove trials by refunding $20 for the first four-pack of vodka premix bottles purchased.)

After they’ve done their shopping at a service station, corner shop, convenience store, liquor outlet or supermarket chain, users go to their mobile and take a photo of their receipt. At that point, Shopitize, linked with internet banking tool NAB Connect, arranges for their cash to be deposited in their account. Users are told this can take several days but it often happens within 24 hours.

Shopitize is a UK company but its chairman is an Australian. The Hon. Alan Griffiths, a minister in the Hawke and Keating Governments who reinvented himself as a tech entrepreneur, launched it in Great Britain several years ago.

It’s been downloaded by 250,000 Brits and showcases around 45 brands in the UK.

Since early 2016, Shopitize Australia managing director Janet Bailey has been rolling out Shopitize down under.

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“Shopitize has several advantages over traditional promotions and loyalty schemes,” Bailey observes. “Studies show that, given the choice, consumers love getting cash rewards. With Shopitize, it’s not an opaque process of accumulating points in the hope of getting, say, a toaster down the track. It’s tangible. Users know they’re getting a certain amount of money and that it will show up in their bank account quickly.”

Bargain-loving consumers may well be excited by Shopitize but brands have most reason to be celebrating its emergence. “Shopitize is retailer agnostic,” Bailey says. “It allows brands to have a direct relationship with their customers. They can find out exactly when those customers are buying their product and where they’re buying it from.”

There’s also an integrated messaging system built into the platform. “A brand can send out an email or SMS, or post on social media, and link directly to the Shopitize platform,” Bailey says. “We can remind people there’s a cashback offer on that brand’s product. We had great results doing this kind of thing with Pernod Ricard Australia. We helped them launch a berry and lime flavoured vodka called Absolut Botanik into the Australian market.”

Richard Dumas is Head of Shopper Marketing at Pernod Ricard Australia. He confirms Shopitize “is a really innovative and powerful way to approach trials that has helped to deliver strong launch results for Absolut Botanik.” Bailey comments, “We make it easy for marketers to implement a mobile strategy by providing a proven platform that’s agile, rapid and branded to their needs.”

Indeed, Shopitize promises to bridge the gap between online viewing and offline shopping. “Online still only accounts for seven per cent of retail sales,” Bailey says. “But consumers are definitely starting to use their smartphones more in the shopping process.”

It’s early days for Shopitize as a whole and particularly its Australian offshoot. Nonetheless, it’s not hard to imagine how it could grow to become a behemoth. If its offer of what’s essentially free money resonates with consumers, it could soon be sitting on a Google-like treasure trove of consumer behaviour data.

“It’s been going well in the UK, things are looking promising in Australia and plans are afoot to crack the US market,” Bailey says. “With emerging payment options, such as digital receipts, users may soon not even need to photograph a paper receipt; a digital one will automatically be sent. We do have competitors in the UK and US but they haven’t been able to develop a fully automated process. Many are having to send images of receipts to be looked at by a human, which slows things down and increases the likelihood of fraud.”

While Shopitize has near unlimited potential to partner with brands, Bailey says the focus is on quality, not quantity.

“There are over 3,000 products on the shelves of a standard supermarket but only 300 of those are big sellers.

Shopitize isn’t looking to provide an offer for every product. It’s aiming to provide offers on the most attractive and best-loved brands. Those are the brands with the most to gain from partnering with Shopitize. That’s because they don’t always get the support they desire from retailers.”

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