High Streets Initiative · 6 October 2017

Bink: The loyalty scheme platform winning over Iceland and Morrisons shoppers

Bink syncs with consumers' smartphones
Bink syncs with consumers’ smartphones

Removing the need for customer loyalty cards altogether, the Bink platform syncs with shoppers’ smartphones so they can automatically collect points in-store.

Launched on the basis that consumers miss out on £3bn worth or retail loyalty rewards every year in the UK alone, Bink has already partnered with Iceland, Morrisons and Pizza Express, among other UK retailers, and has this month expanded into the US with an office in San Francisco.

With £10m in funding raised so far, and another £25m raise anticipated in 2018, our High Streets Initiative spoke to Bink co-founders Lee Clarke and Greg Gormley about their plans to revolutionise the retail sector even further.

(1) Who are you and what’s your business?

We are the co-founders of Bink. We’re a fintech company completely removing the need for plastic loyalty cards, through technology we call Payment Linked Loyalty (PLL).

Bink’s technology means customers will never have to show a plastic loyalty card, paper coupon, app or give a membership ID again.

Through the platform and via the app, instead of customers presenting their loyalty cards to collect points and rewards from their favourite retailers, they simply pay using their credit or debit card as normal, and the points and rewards are collected as the payment card becomes their universal loyalty card.

(2) How long have you been around for?

We launched the business in 2014 and released the app in October 2016.

(3) What makes your service different?

Bink is not an “e-wallet” – of which there are so many in the retail industry – but instead a fully integrated service that’s revolutionising the shopping experience for customers, and offers customer insights for retailers.

(4) What was the key to getting things up and running?

LC: In the early days, the business was privately funded, which enabled us to build a proof of concept. To date we have not met a consumer that doesn’t want to receive rewards and offers from the brands they love, just by using their payment card.

Once this POC was established we raised seed capital from our various networks in three tranches, raising a total of £10m to date, enabling us to accelerate our growth and vision.

GG: The partners we secured in the early days responded well to PLL and the feedback was positive. We began to see opportunities in new markets, and ways in which we could streamline the processes for a number of established companies and household names.

To expand our offering to fit their requirements, and even have the sales team in place to establish a dialogue with them, we needed to grow our team.

With new partners came the need for more technological support in-house, and the more we grew in the UK the more obvious it became that international expansion was on the cards.

(5) What’s been the key to your partnerships with retailers like Iceland and Morrisons?

LC: What we’re not trying to do is tell the big, household name retailers that they’re doing things wrong. They’ve operated without us successfully for many years. The loyalty industry isn’t broken, but it needs a new lease of life and that’s what we’re bringing in a way that no one else is.

Key to our success with the likes of Iceland and Morrisons has been our ability to excite them about the future of loyalty and how they can better engage with their customers, ultimately improving their bottom line.

As a startup, convincing retailers that they should partner with us is naturally a challenge, but one that we have already proved we can overcome by exciting even the biggest names with our game-changing product.

Bink 2
Bink co-founders Lee Clarke and Greg Gormley

(6) What are the main challenges facing UK high street retailers in 2017?

GG: One of the main challenges is the ever-declining margins of grocery retailers. This margin erosion is something that has and will continue to hit even the most progressive retailers.

We believe that Bink can assist with operational efficiencies and best practice, by increasing the number of customers retailers can serve at the till – Bink can save eight seconds per customer, while improving their payment experience at the same time. Plus, we eliminate all the cost around producing needless plastic cards.

LC: A further challenge for high street retailers is the decline in presentation rates. As more people move to contactless payment, the rate of presenting loyalty cards is rapidly declining, meaning retailers are missing out on all that data.

Bink links all loyalty cards to a customer’s payment card, meaning the retailer will not miss out on any valuable insight and the customer continues to have a frictionless shopping experience.

(7) Why is “big data” becoming more important for retailers?

LC: The nature of the retail industry means that big data is vital in better understanding customers and their shopping habits. Our technology enables retailers to collect 100 per cent of the purchase data from their customers’ payment card transactions.

This data is owned by each individual retailer, meaning we act as a way to fill in the blanks and ensure data capture is easy, thorough and secure for the retailers. This can then influence CRM and marketing strategy to ensure repeat business and increase sales.

 (8) How can independent retailers best use reward schemes to increase footfall in 2017?

GG: For independents to really drive footfall, what they’ll benefit from most is technology that sees them part of an aggregated platform. This will ultimately allow them to serve their customers in a quick and easy way, because customers are far more likely to engage with their loyalty/reward scheme if they can access it easily in one place.

Aggregation such as this will mean that in future, independents will be able to keep up with larger retailers by attracting and (most importantly) retaining customers through a transparent, tailored rewards scheme that gives them true value, powered by the one common item everyone carries, a payment card.

(9) In five years’ time, I will be…

LC: Bink will be a global fintech giant, and I will be here helping to drive us forward. The Bink app is only the first stage of what we are wanting to do. As technology advances, I want us to continue our mission to make life simple and rewarding for all.

 (10) Who would you most like to partner in business with, and why?

GG: The Collison Brothers are hugely impressive. Creating a $9.2bn company in their mid-20s! I’d happily go into business with anyone with that kind of vision and innovation to build such a successful company, so young. Imagine what they’ll be doing by the time they are 40.

A fraction of small firms are tapping into the £27bn mobile shopping boom

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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