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Apparel Group offers brand-name discounts via mobile loyalty program

June 24, 2010

Apparel Group taps Imovation for mobile loyalty initiatives

Apparel Group taps Imovation for mobile loyalty initiatives

Retail giant Apparel Group has launched a mobile loyalty program that it claims provides several key advantages over its more traditional counterparts.

The Apparel Group’s recently implemented Club Apparel initiative, powered by Imovation, is the first-ever mobile loyalty program in the United Arab Emirates. The system, which launched initially in Dubai, makes it easier for customers to enroll and participate in the program by integrating a mobile component.

“People don’t need to carry any more cards,” said Nilesh Ved, chairman of Apparel Group, Dubai, U.A.E. “I’m fed up with getting my statements from the bank on paper, so we’re trying to go paperless and no card so your cell phone is your loyalty card.

“You can get your points at Nine West, walk out of the shop, into Tommy Hilfiger, and use it instantly,” he said. “And you can use 87 points or 63 points—usually it’s always in certain denominations.”

The Apparel Group is a global fashion and lifestyle retail conglomerate.

Imovation claims to operate the largest electronic distribution network in the Middle East and specializes in mobile payments and loyalty industries.

How it works
Apparel Group tapped Imovation’s Margento technology to power the loyalty program, letting both local and international shoppers use their personal mobile phones to identify themselves at affiliated points of sale.

Consumers can collect points via a phone call.

Imovation claims that all transactions are quick and take very little effort, while still guaranteeing a high degree of security.

The mobile loyalty program works by adding a pre-established fraction of the value of each purchase onto the customer’s Club Apparel account as points, letting shoppers redeem the acquired balance at any of the group’s 275 retail outlets in the U.A.E.

The account becomes operational soon after being set up, letting the customer start collecting points right away, including those earned by the transaction at hand.

Points can be interchangeably earned and redeemed across a range of international brands, including Nine West, Tommy Hilfiger, Promod, Kenneth Cole, Bench, Basler, Inglot, Jeanswest, Bally, Aldo, Sketchers, Venezia, Dune Booksplus and Cold Stone, among others.

For a customer to enroll into the program, the only technical requirement is a functioning mobile phone.

In fact, no mobile phone upgrades of any sort are necessary, and no limits are put forth by the carrier or handset manufacturer.

When customers want to set up an account, shoppers are instructed to call a toll-free number and tap their mobile phone onto the point-of-sale terminal.

The system will then, after establishing for a fact that the mobile phone number has not been previously registered with the system, automatically print out an enrollment form.

To complete the Club Apparel account registration process, the enrollment form is filled in and signed by the customer, letting him or her to experience the numerous program benefits.

Nilesh Ved is chairman of Apparel Group

Nilesh Ved is chairman of Apparel Group

Mr. Ved said that the among the benefits of a mobile loyalty program, convenience and user-friendliness rank highest.

Alternatively, customers can join by replying to the welcome SMS message instructions without the hassle of filling out a printed form.

Day-to-day usage
The mobile phone acts, owing to the technology employed, as a fully functioning mobile wallet.

Every time a purchase is made, the points are added onto the customer’s account, identified each time with a quick dial and tap.

Points can, at any time, be redeemed in exactly the same manner.

Transaction identification is accomplished through the use of a mobile phone. Transactions are simplified even further by the fact that the same toll-free number is always dialed, regardless of the location and exact affiliated venue at hand.

Additionally, mobile helps speed up transactions, meaning little extra time is spent at the cashier, both in collecting and redeeming points.

Points redeeming transactions are secured through the use of a customer-specific PIN code, with each customer specifying his or her PIN code as a part of the account registration process, meaning lost or stolen mobile phones cannot be used to redeem points.

Finally, the same PIN number can be used, along with the mobile phone number, to log into a self-care Web portal, letting customers monitor and manage their personal account.

Details on all the relevant transactions are provided via the Web portal, helping consumers better manage the redemption of points.

“With the U.A.E. being a global shopping destination, we are looking to bring convenience, efficiency and world class solutions to the tourists, residents and locals.” said Dani Alyamour, general manager of Imovation, Dubai. “Migrating card loyalty to the mobile is just the beginning.

“Cardboard gift vouchers having fixed denominations will soon be replaced with a more interactive flexible mobile gifting experience,” he said. “Tedious repeated filling of ballets when entering prize draws and promotions will be replaced with a simple call to take care of identifying your participation.

“Ultimately our goal is for the U.A.E. to enter the era of mobile payment.”

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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