The fact that 2016 was a tough year for retail is not in doubt. Besides witnessing a tremendous increase in retail space and plans to construct high end retail malls in the years to come. This comes probably as a sigh of relief that there is still hope for Kenya’s economic outlook, but also an indication of fierce competition among brands in the future. Quite a number of unexpected events happened last year; Nakumatt Holdings admitting to facing a cash crunch, Deacons Kenya issuing a profit warning occasioned by a drop in Christmas Festive sales and Kenya Airways retaining the top spot as the biggest disappointment in corporate Kenya for the third year in a row. It was also an interesting year as we witnessed the first Carrefour supermarket, Burger King and F&F opening at the Hub Mall in Karen. We also witnessed the rapid expansion of American fast food franchises Subway, Pizza Hut, Dominos and KFC. Locally owned restaurant chains also spiced up the year that was with Java House Limited leading the wild fire expansion into various towns across the country and regionally.

Two Rivers Mall, Nairobi. (To be opened in February 2017)

Two Rivers Mall, Nairobi.

The race for Kenya’s middle-class spending preferences has also presented an exciting front for customer loyalty programs. Three game changing loyalty programs were launched in 2016, Bata Kenya’s Bata Club Loyalty Program, Deacons’ DEAL Loyalty program and Kenya Commercial Bank’s Simba Points Program. These three leading companies in their respective fields brought about unprecedented strategies to customer loyalty programs; first by launching mobile based loyalty programs and leveraging on mobile technology to engage better with their loyalty customers. With the need to issue out smart cards out of the picture, these brands have effectively cut down the cost of rolling out their programs significantly and can focus their resources towards encouraging more signups and hence leveraging on the customer data to personalize marketing efforts and drive up profitability.

Going into 2017, we are set to see more exciting customer loyalty programs in retail (mall loyalty programs included), hospitality, beauty, financial and motor industries. What’s more exciting is that a massive number of SMEs are embracing customer loyalty software to heat up competition with their larger rivals.

A customer receiving loyalty rewards via SMS

A customer receiving loyalty rewards via SMS

At Paid, we have set our sights on enabling brands run their own customer loyalty programs by providing the most futuristic technologies going into 2017. We have studied global trends in customer loyalty and realized that today’s consumers want the easiest, quickest and friendliest methods to sign up for loyalty programs and earn and redeem rewards. Also, business owners require analytical tools that are friendly, insightful and that can provide a hassle-free engagement methods at the click of a button. With this in mind, our clients can expect awesome improvements on Paid to enable their loyalty customers to opt in using their social media profiles and also new features on the dashboard that will enable users to access more advanced engagement tools and to customize reward options.