SCOTLAND’S independent shops are fighting back against the invasion of chain stores and the march of online retailers by launching their own customer loyalty scheme.
Clickypoints, which gives retailers access to mobile marketing and online sales, will go live early next month and it is hoped it will spread throughout the UK within two years.
Stewart Cameron has invested about £1 million in the system, which has been custom-built for his Perth-based company.
More than 400 businesses have already signed up to the programme, which the Clickypoints chief executive describes as far more “meaningful” than traditional loyalty programmes with low-value points.
“In these cash-strapped times, retailers are looking for customers with spending power, and customers are really focused on making their money go further,” Cameron said.
“This is all about creating customer reward that gives additional spending power – each purchase puts money back into customers’ pockets and back into local businesses.
“That’s got to be good for all of us.”
Every Clickypoint is worth £1 and can be spent with any participating retailer, regardless of where the points were earned. Individual retailers can set the rate at which Clickypoints are doled out in their shop and points banked by consumers will never expire.
Cameron said this is significant, as research recently commissioned by Clickypoints from YouGov found that nearly half of all respondents across the UK think most points-based loyalty schemes do not offer any real value for customers.
“If, for example, you have 25,000 Hilton points – which I do – you have no idea what that is worth, and what it is worth probably changes by the day,” he said. “When I went to try and spend them, I couldn’t even get a room for the night.”
Though long accustomed to taking on the “big boys” who benefit from scale and cost advantages, independents have been caught in a pincer move between the multiples on one side and near-ubiquitous online shopping on the other.
Parvaze Ishaq, owner of fashion shop Threads in Dundee, believes Clickypoints will be a significant boost to businesses such as his.
By offering points of “real” value, he can provide customers with incentives that don’t cut into the shop’s sales margins.
“Times are hard at the moment. We can’t afford to give out loads of discounts,” Ishaq said. “If you take £10 off the price of a pair of jeans, that money is just gone, and there is no guarantee that customer will come back again.
“But if I give a customer £10 of points, that gives them spending power and a reason to come back to the store.”
In addition to driving physical footfall, there are also plans for a “Clickymarket” where retailers can show and sell wares online.
Cameron said the company was also putting together daily deals similar to Groupon, and is about to launch smartphone apps that will allow retailers to advertise as part of the Clickypoints network.
“In this time of austerity, and the high street coming under the cosh of online sales, we are giving SMEs a means of not just promoting high-street sales but also a way of coming out of the high street as well,” Cameron said.
Susan Pirie, who runs her Beauty Room business out of Falkirk, is one of several sole traders who have also signed up to Clickypoints.
Although she ran her own loyalty scheme, she was drawn to the idea of a broader network that could benefit the local business community.
“It gives a wee bit of power back to us against the big Tescos of the world,” she said.