Online technology has already completely revolutionized the way reward programs are implemented. In the Reward Program Dark Ages, reward systems consisted of stamped or punched cards that could eventually be redeemed for old, overstocked inventory nobody really wanted. Then came the evolution of debit, prepaid, and gift card rewards, which offered reward program participants more choice and convenience. We’re now in the age of the mobile or online reward programs, with cyber currency points, mobile apps, instant redemption, and extensive online reward catalogs with almost as many item categorizes as digital superstores like Amazon and Overstock. What does reward programs' past tell us about the future, i.e. reward program forecasting?
As communication and Internet capabilities evolve, reward programs are never far behind in applying new technologies. By observing current tech trends and advances on the horizon, we can put together some reasonable reward program forecasting. As a seasoned reward program provider, with plenty of curious industry experts in-house, Incentive Solutions’ observations of useable tech trends over the last few years have led us to theorize that these five things will characterize the online reward systems of the future:
- Drone-Delivered Rewards
Having a reward delivered right to your doorstep by a tiny, flying robot seems like science-fiction, but the first successful drone delivery has already taken place. As companies develop faster shipping methods, partnerships with online reward program suppliers could provide great opportunities to popularize these carrier services. And reward program providers would benefit from this partnership: rewards that arrive instantaneously result in a stronger sense of fulfillment and motivation for the recipient.
- More Digital Download Rewards
Digital downloads and streaming are now society’s dominant method of consuming movies and music, while three in 10 adults report being e-book readers in 2014. It's a no-brainer for digital downloads to be part of reward program forecasting. More likely than not, people in the future will be able to make more and more purchases right from their phones or computers. On top of that, most likely anything that can be digitized will be digitized. In the future, people will probably be redeeming their online rewards points for Taylor Swift’s twenty-first studio album or a virtual reality tour of the Paris catacombs, all with a mere click or wave of the hand!
- Online Reward Program Voice Recognition Service
The voice of the future Internet will be… well, voice. Programmers and developers are currently working on new computer chips that can make the Internet capable of revolving around voice recognition, facial recognition and other advanced automation.“GPUs [Graphics Processing Units] are now the chips of choice not only for voice recognition, but for all sorts of other services based on neural networks. These ‘deep learning’ tools involve everything from the face recognition services on Google+ and Facebook to the ad targeting tech on the Baidu search engine, and eventually, they’ll help power self-driving cars and other robotics,” says Google’s Jeff Dean. Imagine how gratifying it would be to plop onto the sofa after a bad day, speak into your reward program’s voice recognition service, “Spend reward points on large, deluxe pizza,” and have delicious comfort food delivered immediately. Expect voice recognition and other convenient, GPU-powered “deep learning” to make their way to online reward programs in the future.
- Online Reward Program Voice Recognition Service
- More Personalized Reward Systems
With online reward program apps such as Incentive Solutions’, users can already scan UPCs and upload invoices or warranty registrations to instantly to earn points. They can shop, check balances, spend points and add items to their wishlist with their mobile phones, making the entire process immediate and personalized. Consumers’ love of personalized, convenient tools is a trend that isn’t going anywhere. An IBM survey found that about half of all customers want a personalized experience both online and in-person.
Expect the concept of personalization to continue enhancing participants’ online reward program experiences. For example, a reward program scanner may detect a product in a store and cheerfully pipe, “Hey Joe, isn’t that the brand of coffee you love? You can get it today for only X points!”
Reward programs have the potential to become handy helpers and sidekicks, “learning” and adjusting to our individual needs and desires to make our lives more convenient and fulfilling.
- Greater Integration of Reward Programs & Marketing Strategies
Customer engagement is the name of the sales and marketing game, for now, and for the foreseeable future. And customer engagement is only possible through access to customer input, needs, behaviors and contact information. With current online reward technology, administrators can measure ROI and track the programs’ success using performance data, as well as automate the sales claims verification processes. All these tools help companies refine and reevaluate their business plans, sales goals or marketing strategies. In the future, program usage, data and reporting will probably become even more synced so that businesses have access not just data, but faster access to that data and the tools to make better use of it, so companies they can respond to the needs and preferences of their participants in real-time—be those participants customers, employees, or sales channel partners.
Convenience, personalization and instant access are the concepts that will likely drive the future’s online reward programs. As communication technology advances, it creates opportunities for easy, rapid and “smart” integration into participants’ lives. When seeking out an online reward program provider, look for an innovative company who is keeping a finger on the pulse of today’s technologies and the needs of customers.
Want to know more about the forward-thinking reward program technology Incentive Solutions can provide? Call us at 866-567-7432 or use our contact form.
CEO of The Incentive Solutions Group of Companies, consisting of:
- Incentive Solutions
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