Cape Town-based SWARM Loyalty, a specialist developer of mobile loyalty and customer marketing applications, has launched a new version of its solution that makes it possible for new clients to create and deploy a smartphone-based loyalty app in as little as two weeks.
The announcement comes on the back of a major investment in the company by technology holding company DTH as part of its strategy to incubate and develop promising startup software development companies to significantly grow their market share in South Africa and abroad.
SWARM managing director Rowan Vlaming says the new solution turns the notion of the time-consuming, expensive application development cycle on its head.
“Smartphone apps are very powerful tools for brands, but companies often hit a brick wall when it comes to getting their ideas off the ground – and more importantly into their customers’ hands – because the traditional process of developing an app from scratch can be prohibitive,” says Vlaming.
“We’ve been building up our mobile loyalty platform for several years, and with (DTH company) DVT’s help have retooled it to meet the most pressing demand from our clients: rapid adoption,” he says. “Without losing any of the functionality that made the original application unique in this market, along with adding in a number of powerful new features, we’ve been able to streamline the process of creating a uniquely-branded app for new clients – or modifying our existing clients’ apps – so that new clients can have a working product in hand in a fortnight.”
DTH CEO Chris Wilkins says SWARM is well positioned as one of the fastest growing loyalty solution providers in South Africa, if not the outright market leader.
“What SWARM has achieved in such a short space of time is nothing short of remarkable,” says Wilkins. “This makes them integral to our expansion strategy, particularly in the rapidly-changing post-Brexit UK market, where the SWARM solution is not only completely transplantable, but will also give UK brands a faster, better, more full-featured loyalty solution than anything else currently available – and at a much lower cost point.”
Vlaming says one of the biggest drivers for the platform upgrade was making the platform more accessible to single-store, single-branch brands.
“Loyalty apps are most often associated with larger brands that operate national, multi-branch franchises, which also spreads out the higher cost of bespoke software development to make it more affordable,” he adds.
“But we’ve had a number of smaller brands and independent stores approaching us for a similar solution because of the inherent marketing value and direct customer communication features our app enables, so it was important for us to ‘democratise’ the solution as much as possible to make it more appealing for a wider audience.”
SWARM’s point-of-sale-integrated mobile loyalty solution is used by leading hospitality and retail groups in South Africa, including Kauai, Wakaberry, TWISP, Bootlegger and Carlton Hair. It replaces fraud-prone paper and card-based loyalty systems with a mobile app front-end, complete with backend point-of-sale integration, giving customers a powerful tool that complements and extends their loyalty and rewards campaigns.
Aside from faster time-to-market, the new application platform includes a number of significant new features for new and existing clients. These include a loyalty and vouchering engine that allows for much more flexibility in the types of campaigns that can be run on the platform, ideal for franchisers who want to incentivise targeted customer groups.
Also included is a ‘gamification’ engine that challenges customers to try new products, visit different stores and change their shopping behavior, then rewarding them for doing so. Front-end improvements the ability to edit messaging and notification types for the app, and promotional codes for non-point-of-sale campaigns, such as events.
“These features can be automated and are integrated with the retailers’ existing point-of-sale systems so there’s no complicated learning curve,” says Vlaming.
“The new features bring the app much closer to a full-featured customer engagement solution,” he says. “The additional functionality coupled with point-of-sale and payment system integration, and the inclusion of live content feeds and personalised customer engagement tools, brands can use the solution to add real value to their marketing, sales and CRM initiatives at relatively modest cost.”