Apple, Google, Softcard, PayPal, Visa, and many others are together spending billions of dollars on digital wallet technology. The emergence of these eWallets is getting a lot of media attention as well, but what's in it for you?
An eWallet can hold the same items as a traditional wallet. These include ID cards (e.g., a digital driver's license), coupons, national currencies, and payment cards (bank cards, both debit and credit, gift cards, loyalty cards, and rewards cards). The purpose of an eWallet is not only to create an electronic storage location to hold these types of items, but to also to add intelligence to them that will simplify our lives. For example, an advanced eWallet will know when you are making a payment at a specific merchant location and can prompt you to redeem the value on a gift card - no more worry about forgetting your gift cards. It also can automatically capture the loyalty value applicable to a purchase without requiring customers to present a specific loyalty card.
Today, when your customer carries your gift card, it prominently shows your brand. One concern some franchisors have is that an eWallet will erode the brand value associated with their existing gift and loyalty card programs. An eWallet done right means you will have control over how your brand is shown in the wallet, allowing you to change and update the way your brand is shown in a customer's eWallet. Controlling and regularly refreshing your brand inside your customer's eWallet is only the beginning of the exciting features available in an eWallet.
An eWallet provides an opportunity to integrate intelligence to simplify, streamline, and automate your customers' experience for both gift and loyalty cards - without diminishing your brand. For example, a customer visiting a franchise location may be offered loyalty value to be used on the next visit just for visiting (think automatic check-in capability). The loyalty offer may be geolocation-aware so the amount offered increases or decreases based on the location visited. Intelligence also may be added to increase or decrease the amount offered based on time of day. To maximize profits, for example, you could offer customers additional loyalty points for visiting during off-peak hours, or reduce the loyalty value dynamically during peak hours.
The eWallet also has intelligence to simplify payment for more complex and combined transactions (e.g., a $20 purchase with redemption of $10 from a gift card and the remaining $10 paid with an eWallet-enrolled Visa). In this example, the intelligence in the eWallet automates the redemption of the $10 gift card, processes the $10 Visa payment, and automatically returns 80 cents in loyalty value to the your customer's eWallet (8 percent of the $10 paid through Visa, while redemption of the $10 gift card earns no additional loyalty value).
You can also leverage an eWallet to post the distribution of your branded gift, loyalty value, or other offers within popular social media sites such as Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Google+. An eWallet provider should allow you to create a digital offer and make it available to your customers' eWallets. It is not spam when you are sending your customers welcomed offers.
Franchises can expect a feature-rich, cloud-based eWallet to increase their knowledge about their customers by connecting them directly to their customers. The eWallet will also reduce the cost and risk associated with receiving and processing all types payments (gift card, loyalty card, payment card, cash), reduce customer fraud, increase security, improve convenience, and provide a suite of new promotional tools that just are just now emerging.
Regardless of whether your program is gift, loyalty, or both, an eWallet done right means that you are in control of how your brand is shown in the customer's eWallet. It means that you stay connected with your customers in the most meaningful place to connect with them: their wallet.
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