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REI relies on mobile app to increase loyalty card membership

October 14, 2011

The REI Visa iPhone app

Financial institution U.S. Bank and retailer REI have teamed up to make credit card approval easier and faster for consumers shopping in-store via an iPhone application.

The goal of the partnership is to increase the number of credit card approvals for REI’s Visa card as well as speed up the application process in stores. By promoting a download of the REI Visa app at the point of purchase, shoppers can instantly be approved for the REI Visa card and begin using their reward points.

“With the app, we want to move the process of loyalty cards to mobile and make it faster for consumers,” said Dominic Venturo, chief innovation officer of the bank payment service division at U.S. Bank, Minneapolis.

“The app also moves the customer application process out of the service lane to more of an in-store experience that connects with the brand,” he said.

Instant approval
The REI Visa card, which is operated by U.S. Bank, is being promoted via in-store signage at REI locations.

Users who are interested in signing up for the credit card can download the app to learn more about the requirements and benefits of the card.

Consumers then enter their information, including date of birth and social security number to find out if they are approved for a card.

As an incentive to apply for the card via mobile, users can start using the benefits after being approved, which includes 5 percent off all REI purchases.

Consumers can manage their accouts via the app

To use their card, users flash their mobile credit card to an REI employee at the register.

The app functions as a temporary card for 30 days or until consumers receive a physical card in the mail.

In order to be approved for a credit card, consumers must be a member of REI’s loyalty program.

Paperless world
According to U.S. Bank, REI was a best fit to try out the mobile credit card application process because of the company’s mission.

“Eliminating paper was important to REI because it is an environmentally conscious group,” Mr. Venturo said.

“REI also has a very strong customer following with their existent iPhone app and wanted to try something new,” he said.

From both a consumer and company point of view, making the retail credit card process completely mobile is a smart and bold move for REI.

For consumers, it will speed up their time shopping and give them a chance to learn about the retailer’s loyalty programs without feeling rushed.

For retailers, mobile loyalty card approval has the possibility of increasing the number of card holders by eliminating the sales pitch associates often have to pitch at the point of sale.

“The primary problem the mobile app is trying to solve is how the credit card application will be processed,” Mr. Venturo said.

“There is also a reward model being used with the technology,” he said. “If I’m a consumer and I’m going through the effort of applying for a card, I want to use my benefits on the spot in the store.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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