Data science

Big Data Needs Your Shopping Data – And They’ll Reward You for Every Item Purchased

Artificial intelligence (AI) has already made shopping with some retailers a relatively pleasant experience. But AI has the potential to make all of our shopping experiences significantly better. What’s needed is data… huge amounts of it. One Asia-based bank that’s moving in the right direction is employing tech to search through the credit card info of users to figure out what kind of reward the user might actually want. It’s a great idea. Not everyone wants a new iPhone or some standard reward. So, the AI goes through the records and if say, a person uses their card for a lot of travel expenses, it makes a reasonable prediction that they’d likely be happy to trade in their credit card points for something related to those expenses. If the person buys a lot of tech gadgets, then yeah… maybe that iPhone is a good call. The AI is using the past behavior of its banking clients to offer better, more wanted, and personalized ways of redeeming rewards. 

Technology is helping firms re-think the entire loyalty program concept. Is there a way to unify reward programs so that they apply across the board to all purchases? Then, everything you buy would count towards earning rewards. Would people be willing to trade their shopping data for reward points? The answer is proving to be a strong ‘yes.’ Download the reward app, scan or take pictures of receipts from any purchase, hit ‘send.’ The user immediately begins earning points that can be redeemed for…and here’s one of the best parts: free stuff, services or discounts or special offers of your choosing. Take the popular app, Fetch, for example. Fetch helps users “get receipt rich” through their shopping rewards app. These pieces of paper are transformed into valuable databases that an AI program can then aggregate into consumer reports that help develop specialized marketing, and even aid in cost savings for corporations as streamlining and consolidation is only possible with enough clear facts and stats. In the end, the consumer may even benefit from reduced prices that result from better corporate efficiency.

You scan and send in your receipt data, and in exchange, a reward app makes it worth your while.     –Genius.  And, because the rewards can be anything from an Amazon gift card to a free coffee or a big discount on a specific item, the user has enough motivation to keep doing it. For years, companies have found it’s been like pulling teeth to get people to join some loyalty scheme. And even when they join, reports indicate that the redemption rate on some e-commerce reward programs is somewhere near one percent! Clearly, people aren’t all that interested in the “rewards” being offered – probably because they’re not relevant or personal enough. With a reward app, no one sets the goal you aim to reach, it’s all up to you. Trade in your points for some immediate gratification such as a free Uber ride, or let them stack up and wait for some tempting offer.  

 Is privacy a concern? Not really, apparently. Younger people are fine with sharing data and do so on social media regally. A reward app isn’t much more intrusive and even ‘gamifies’ shopping somewhat. And, of course, should you not want some particular item you buy showing up in a database, you’re free not to scan that particular receipt. Letting a big data analyst company know what type of groceries you buy, and when and where you buy, for example, is hardly a breach of privacy. Data gatherers aren’t all that keen on knowing all about you as an individual, they’re looking for trends. The data is only powerful when it’s big enough to mean something. All the same, the corporations and the reward apps know they are asking people to be proactive, which isn’t something humans are all that fond of. So, they’ve come up with the easiest way possible to send in the data (scan or snap a pic of a receipt), ensured that the scheme works across the board from a movie ticket to buying software online, and – crucially – offer a wide variety of rewards that consumers can choose from. It’s a highly tempting idea that gets pretty darn close to a win-win.

In the not-too-distant future, reward apps may begin implementing the same idea as the Asian bank we discussed in the opening paragraph: having AI sort through your purchase records and then offering you redeeming options that are highly personalized. Already the app has reward programs inside reward programs: for example, someone with a baby could sign up in the app for a diaper program. The possibilities for further personalization are countless and exciting. We’ve gone from cutting out coupons to get a few cents knocked off the price of some items, to instant reward choices as your app wallet fills with points. And this is only the beginning. 

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