IceMobile Heats Up Customer Loyalty

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print
API management tools

A global provider of loyalty services deploys API management tools to manage the integration between its backend systems and retailers' CRM, ERP and POS systems.

The transition from paper and plastic loyalty cards to digital technology has introduced both opportunities and risks for retailers and others. On one hand, consumers—especially younger individuals—want slick apps that display their current point balance and promotional offers on their smartphone.

On the other hand, tying together a mélange of IT systems and ensuring that data is always accurate and up to date can be challenging. Without well-designed systems and tight integration, the end goal of driving greater sales and profits can be elusive.

The challenges are familiar ones for IceMobile, a global transactional loyalty firm based in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It runs programs on a global scale for various retailers under its Bright Loyalty Platform.

"As part of the program, customers receive stamps when they make purchases, and, when they reach a certain level, they receive a deep discount on products such as knife sets, glasses, plates, pots and pans, and many other items," says Jeroen Pietryga, CEO of IceMobile.

A few years ago, the entire process took place entirely on paper. While customer can still use actual stamps, IceMobile introduced a digital framework along with a mobile app in 2013. It displays points, but it also allows retailers to deliver instant personalized mobile offers to customers' mobile devices, using real-time analytics.

After rolling the system out in Russia, Denmark and Taiwan, it has continually expanded the program to the point where it's now the first integrated solution in China. The kicker: The digital platform has led to an average 25 percent increase in sales while eliminating cumbersome—and sometimes lost—booklets and stamps. "It has delivered enormous benefits," Pietryga says.

Integrating With CRM, ERP and POS Systems

The glue that holds the entire infrastructure together is a CA API Management platform, which IceMobile began using in early 2014. The Retailer API manages the integration between IceMobile's backend systems and retailers' CRM, ERP and POS systems. A private UX API handles integration with mobile and Web apps that interface with IceMobile's backend systems.

"The system creates an extremely smooth and seamless framework," says Roelof Blom, IceMobile's technology director. In addition, it provides detailed reporting, analytics and dashboards that let retailers track the success of their marketing initiatives and view overall trends.

The CA API Management platform eliminated the need to develop and test custom software. When IceMobile upgraded its architecture to the current IT framework, it was able to trim implementation time from 14 weeks to eight weeks.

The company is now in the process of rolling out a Website for the loyalty program. The site will complement the existing iOS and Android apps.

The initiative has transformed the company and its network of retailers. "This project was all about becoming faster and more flexible," Blom explains.

"We wanted to bring 21st century tools and capabilities to customers and help retailers improve their relationship with customers—including driving greater sales. The API management tools have allowed us to standardize and ensure the highest level of quality and consistency."

This article was originally published on 2015-12-10
Samuel Greengard writes about business and technology for Baseline, CIO Insight and other publications. His most recent book is The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).
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