Social media is becoming a more substantial and meaningful channel for consumers to interact with their favorite retailers and restaurants. To keep pace with new marketing developments, VARs can integrate more interactive tools for end-users. The Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA) has released Incite, a new cloud-based solution that is designed to blur the lines between traditional loyalty programs and social networks, allowing companies to interact with brand advocates and prospects via social media more effectively.
The Incite feature is powered by Social Network Appreciation Platform (SNAP), a web-based platform that integrates traditional in-store loyalty programs into popular social media networks, Incite helps retailers and restaurants automatically “check in” customers when they complete a transaction.
Consumers then automatically share their in-store experience with friends and family via their social networking accounts, and receive additional rewards points.
The primary goal of automating the entire social sharing process makes effective interaction less of a struggle. The tool also was developed to arm VARs with the necessary resources to keep pace with emerging technological and marketing trends, Steve Messemer, Account Manager for Incite, told Channel Marketer Report.
“Most point-of-sale resellers are considered knowledgeable providers of technology that their customers have come to depend on,” Messemer said. “It is extremely important for VARs to evolve with the changes in technology so they stay relevant in the eyes of their customers. The importance of social and loyalty has skyrocketed over the past few years and retailers are seeking help to address these avenues of communication within their businesses. Offering Incite to end-users displays a VAR’s forward-thinking knowledge and keeps them relevant and innovative in the eyes of their end-user customers.”
The Incite platform is designed to amp up traditional in-store loyalty initiatives to adapt to modern technology trends. By adopting this feature, VARs can empower end-users within retail and hospitality markets to expand on their existing loyalty programs to include an array of social media networks. To keep pace with new developments in these markets, solution providers must be quick to include interactive tools with their traditional offerings, according to Joseph Finizio, President and CEO of RSPA.
“It’s not a trend, but a requirement, for today’s businesses to fully understand and utilize the power of social media marketing,” Finizio said. “Many retailers know more about social media than the providers of retail technology, which is not a good position, if you want your business to be the trusted advisor and supplier of retail technology to potential and current customers.”
With Incite, merchants develop messages through a store-branded portal, which automatically sends creative, customized branded messages when transactions are complete, Messemer explained. Retailers can control their own campaigns, providing instant flexibility for marketing campaigns. “These word-of-mouth messages are crafted by the retailer, but approved by the customers before getting shared with their friends and family on their social networks in real time after a loyalty transaction takes place in the store,” he noted.
As shoppers focus more on word-of-mouth via social networking sites, there will be a growing market need for more interactive loyalty programs, according to Finizio. “Loyalty programs that engage the shopper are critical elements for all merchants during 2012 and beyond,” he said. “Social media marketing will be moving from a version 1.0 phase, where it’s exciting but not understood completely, to a version 2.0 phase, where more business opportunities can be identified and turned into profitable products and services.”
To increase awareness of the new offering, RSPA is focusing on improving education among VARs. The Association will be providing webinars, articles and best practices to members. RSPA members can then use these resources as marketing tools for prospects and customers.
“RSPA has an ongoing initiative to be a thought leader for the retail technology industry,” Finizio explained “One of the activities associated with that initiative is the identification of new technologies and market opportunities; Incite was part of that initiative. The integration of social media into mainstream product and recurring revenue business opportunities are becoming a requirement for successful companies providing retail technology. RSPA’s goal was to provide a product that helped our members test this new market opportunity with minimal resource investment on their part.”
Messemer added that along with introducing Incite to its reseller base, the RSPA is encouraging ISV members to integrate the platform with their POS software package, and further work with dealer members to understand the features and value of the offering.
RSPA will promote the benefits of Incite for resellers in its print and electronic publications, and during its RetailNOW conference in Las Vegas, Nev. Resellers can contact Incite representatives at (888) 222-0471 to understand how they can include the product in their current offerings.
Alicia Fiorletta is Senior Editor for Channel Marketer Report. Working closely with industry analysts and experts, Alicia reports on the latest news, technologies, case studies and trends coming to forefront in the channel marketing world. With a focus on emerging marketing strategies, including social, mobile and content for demand, Alicia hones in on new ways for organizations to market to and through their partner networks. Through her work with G3 Communications, Alicia also acts as Associate Editor for Retail TouchPoints, a digital publishing network focused on the customer-facing area of the retail industry.