A Perth tech company is to launch a unique service that aims to boost the sagging fortunes of the UK's High Streets by providing independent local businesses with their own customer loyalty schemes.
Three businesses in Perth have been chosen to trial the loyalty programme that has been developed by Miconex, who are best known for their Mi phone apps, such as Mi Perthshire, which promote local firms using digital channels.
While retail giants like Tesco and Boots have had the means for many years to reward their customers through card-based loyalty schemes; small local businesses have struggled to provide the same service.
The Miconex model will – for the first time – provide High Street businesses with a bespoke loyalty service that will allow them to track customer data and provide specific rewards such as money-off discounts. The technology will also allow businesses in one town to offer a combined loyalty reward scheme to local customers.
Miconex was able to develop the concept after they became one of 20 UK companies to win initial funding from the Technology Strategy Board, a UK government funding agency for innovation.
Colin Munro, Chief Executive at Miconex, said the initiative aims to create a set of tools and services to benefit local businesses and consumers, and ultimately support the revival of the UK's ailing town centres.
He said: "This UK-first concept could be ground-breaking for both local businesses and our High Streets.
"Independent businesses to date have found it difficult to provide integrated loyalty schemes because they all use different till systems and the process to analyse individual customer's spend is too costly.
"Our easy-to-use scheme alleviates this issue by using technology to collect individual spends and stores the data in the 'cloud'.
"Each business can then decide what total a customer must spend to be rewarded and what that reward will be – whether it's a product or a percentage off their next spend."
Colin, who is an Ambassador for the promotion and investment initiative, Invest in Perth, said he was particularly pleased that the concept is to initially trialled by the Perth businesses which could open the door for the scheme to be rolled our across the UK.
He added: "Invest in Perth are playing a major role in boosting the fortunes of the Perth City Region so it is fantastic for us to be able to acknowledge their support to us, and their commitment to the local community, by having the concept tested for the first time in our home city."
The three businesses taking part are delicatessen Provender Brown, wine retailer Exel Wines, and Blend Café.
Perth locals will be able to pick up a loyalty card in any of the participating businesses, or alternatively download the app, MiRewards Perth.
Diane Brown, Owner of Provender Brown, said, "We are very excited about taking part in this scheme. We've had great loyalty from many of our customers for nearly 10 years now so it'll be lovely to be able to offer something back.
"Setting up a loyalty scheme like this would normally be quite a commitment for a small business like ours so it's fantastic for us to be involved in this pilot.
"We are hoping that through the scheme we can reward existing customers and encourage new or infrequent visitors the shop."
Russell Wallace, General Manager at Exel Wines, said: "While we are proud to be an independent company, in my view it is the localised aspect of Exel Wines in Perth that gives us a competitive sway.
"However, the bottom line is always about being able to attract new customers and retain those that do shop with us. Creating a localised business community and specifically a loyalty scheme with added benefits is an ingenious way of allowing us to broaden our reach and thank our customers.
"When I was approached by Miconex, I immediately saw the potential as a risk free marketing initiative and the opportunity to give High Street retailers a collective voice and platform from which to react to the changes in society."
Sundeep Sallins, manager at Blend Café, said: "This scheme is about starting a conversation with our loyal customers. We're always thinking of ways we can interact and build relationships within our community, and the loyalty scheme allows us a new degree of constancy and stability in how we reward them.
"Our motive for taking part in the scheme is not just about business, but about knitting the community together in the modern world.
"It's as much about what the Perth community can give each other as it is about enriching our customers' experience."
Stuart Oliver of Invest in Perth said: "Perth has some outstanding businesses that showcase the City Region as a UK leader when it comes to innovation and excellence.
"The Miconex loyalty scheme launch is a great example of what Invest in Perth is about – a local firm that has developed ground-breaking technology which is helping smaller local firms to be more successful and to bring more people to Perth.
"As well as helping local businesses, the Miconex product will also benefit town centre managers and other key stakeholders to develop strategies designed to increase customer numbers and to improve the attractions of our High Streets."
The £99,000 phase one funding included the trial in Perth over the next three months. An additional £1.2m of funding is available if Miconex are one of the five companies chosen to progress to phase two which will involve further roll outs across the UK in 2015.
Image: "City centre Perth – geograph.org.uk – 650203" by Tom Pennington – From geograph.org.uk. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:City_centre_Perth_-_geograph.org.uk_-_650203.jpg#mediaviewer/File:City_centre_Perth_-_geograph.org.uk_-_650203.jpg