Well, I'd been annoyed by them for decades; actually. I'd often lamented about how it seemed everyone conspired to put a card in my pocket. For a few years now I have had an absolute policy of not enrolling in any loyalty or rewards programs or carrying any of their cards. I'd decided it was time to rebel; someone had to tell them enough is enough. Ridiculous; I know, but I like to get carried away.
Of course; passion of any kind can be a big wind behind anyone's back and over the years, partly to amuse myself, I came up with a few schemes and ideas that would allow businesses to enroll me in a loyalty program without making me carry yet another card around.
Loyalty apps have some definite advantages for businesses and customers but some people just aren't that technology savvy or comfortable. It often takes time for people to adopt new technologies and there are enough people who can't or won't use a mobile app (or scan QR Codes) that it's definitely an issue that shouldn't be ignored.
SLO Donut Company currently uses an equal amount of paper and virtual punch cards. Pickering said the only drawback is that “there are anti-smartphone people out there who can’t use the app.”
By having the employee do the punching, it means the customer has the option to use their punch card, just like they always have, if they want to (i.e. the customer hands their card to an employee, who punches it and hands it back). It's much easier for businesses to train their employees to scan codes, for instance, than to train customers. And by also providing the customer a path to switching to a mobile version of the card if they choose; everyone is happy.
But that's still not enough
Encouraging Other Customer Behaviours
There are many other behaviours that can be rewarded with an application that can better track and respond to customer behaviour. Many behaviours can be implemented in a way that requires no extra effort by the business, and others by adding small simple additions to a punching interface.
There's actually no end to where you can go; with a little imagination
Businesses can offer rewards behalf of other businesses.
If your business is one which it doesn't really have anything it can give away for free (e.g. a Realtor); that business could make a group purchase-priced deal to buy rewards offered by another business as a reward to their own customers for exhibiting the desired behaviour (e.g. buying houses).
And what about employees?Punches can be a way of encouraging positive behaviours in employees also. In the majority of business's employees are also customers. Rewarding positive behaviours at work can be an excellent way to show recognition and increase employee loyalty too. Showed up for work early? Made a customer happy?
Is it Ten Times better?If implemented right; Yes. I think it could be. Especially if small businesses can do it more cheaply than its costing them now. It's sort of like going from typed print to hyper text (except with customer loyalty).
QR Code Based Loyalty CardsIn a nut shell; this has been my primary project for the last 2+ years and I've put a lot of time into building what I think is the Better Punch Card. I've got all of the core functionality and I just went into early Beta with my first business Babes in the Woods. I didn't have the resources to hire other people very much, and I've had to cover all of the expenses personally, but I've had most of the right skills and I was willing to do the work.
If you are a business, and you don't mind printing your own cards; you can use the software for free. The application will even provide you with all of the print files for your own branded cards, together with instructions, ready for you to print either on your own [inkjet/laser] printer, if you use business card perforated sheets, or at your local print shop. Or, if you require, for a variable offset printing.
Each card has a unique QR code, URL and customer registration number. When employees scan the cards, they get a "Puncher", which defaults to "Punch" the card. At this point, if the employee only means to punch the card, they are done.