Netcentives Unveils Offline Rewards System

San Francisco-based Netcentives Thursday released details of its upcoming Retail Rewards product, which aims to move the predominantly online loyalty marketer into the offline realm.

The product is a turnkey, integrated rewards system targeted at retailers who want to reward consumer purchases across all retail channels: brick-and-mortar stores, catalogs and online shopping destinations, with the ultimate aim of increasing customer lifetime value.

The Retail Rewards system enables merchants to reward customers based on their use of a credit card — American Express, Visa or MasterCard only — through any online or offline channel (phone, Web, email, in-store, etc.) that retailer operates. The service automatically records the transaction and doles out the reward — which typically includes airline miles or points used toward a future discount.

One of the main features of the system is that it requires no technical integration at the point of sale — since Netcentives’ technology verifies payment card transactions, awards incentives for each consumer purchase, and handles reporting and analysis. Netcentives gained the capability to track credit card transactions using technology it acquired when it bought Universal Value Network last March.

“Our Retail Rewards system allows Netcentives to operate beyond the online world, helping retailers meet their business objectives by rewarding and communicating with their best customers through one seamless, integrated technology platform,” said Netcentives chairman and CEO West Shell. “Netcentives Retail Rewards system enables merchants to expand their customer base, and more importantly, build and retain long-term customer relationships by offering incentives no matter where customers shop.”

The move comes as many incentive marketers like MyPoints.com and couponers like CoolSavings are aiming to move offline, as the volatile online marketing space produces diminishing revenues. CoolSavings recently cut 10 percent of its workforce in order to reduce costs, and warned that near-term future revenue could be lower than expected. On Wednesday, MyPoints tapped an offline marketer to fill its chief executive officer position, which had opened up following a management shakeup and layoffs of about 120.

The system is being offered in a standard configuration that can handle offline channels. However, Netcentives believes it can upsell its online incentive tools as well — by offering an integrated incentive package. In that way, the company’s online services become more appealing to traditional marketers still perhaps a bit leery of online efforts.

Clients using the system at present include The Sharper Image, Jos.A.Bank, and Cushman’s Sporting Goods.

Currently, Retail Rewards lets retailers award incentive currencies across all channels, but Netcentives said it will ultimately will enable clients to offer promotional rebates, gift cards, and targeted email communications, based on customer preferences and purchase behavior.

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