This episode features a multi-award-winning loyalty program from one of the leading retail, entertainment and hospitality conglomerates in the Middle East region.
Majid Al Futtaim was founded in 1992 and now employs more than 43,000 people, operating a portfolio of more than 270 outlets in 15 countries, including 25 shopping malls and 13 hotels, as well as holding the exclusive franchise for Carrefour supermarkets in 37 markets across the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
With such a huge portfolio of lifestyle brands, designing, developing and executing a successful loyalty program was an immense challenge for the group and yet, they have achieved huge success for this complex yet compelling multi-brand programme.
Joining me today to announce their latest awards and share some of the insights for the “Share” customer loyalty program is Kashmira Motiwalla, Group Head of Loyalty for the Majid Al Futtaim Group, based in Dubai.
Paula: Welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty, an industry podcast for loyalty marketing professionals. I’m your host, Paula Thomas, and if you work in loyalty marketing, join me every week to learn the latest ideas from loyalty specialists around the world.
Did you know that 91% of consumers will trade personal and preference data in return for loyalty rewards? Consumers want a better experience, and it all starts with collecting the right type of data, zero party data. In The Complete Guide to Zero Party Data 2023, you’ll discover how collecting zero party data can lead to better personalized campaigns and better relationships with your customers.
Visit meetmarigold.com to learn more about zero party data and relationship marketing, as well as download The Complete Guide to Zero Party Data 2023.
Hello and welcome to today’s episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty featuring a multi award-winning loyalty program from one of the leading retail, entertainment and hospitality conglomerates in the Middle East region. Majid Al Futtaim was founded in 1992 and now employs more than 43,000 people. Operating a portfolio of more than 270 outlets in 15 countries, including 25 shopping malls, 13 hotels, as well as holding the exclusive franchise for Carrefour supermarkets in 37 markets across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
With such a huge portfolio of lifestyle brands, designing, developing and executing a successful loyalty program was an immense challenge for the group. And I can certainly say it’s hugely exciting, both as a loyalty marketing professional, and as a resident of the region to watch its incredible success.
Joining me today to announce their latest awards and share some of the insights for the SHARE Customer Loyalty Program is Kashmira Motiwalla, Group Head of Loyalty for the Majid Al Futtaim Group based in Dubai.
So Kashmira Motiwalla, welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty.
Kashmira: Thank you so much, Paula. This is, this is quite the honor. You’ve got quite the repertoire in terms of all the different individuals on your podcast, so it’s, it’s lovely to be here. Thank you.
Paula: Well certainly Kash. You and I have known each other for very many years, and in some ways I’m actually quite glad we waited till today to do this recording because I know the SHARE Program and the whole Majid Al Futtaim Group is celebrating the incredible awards that you won from the Marketing Society here in the UAE last night.
So first and foremost, huge congratulations on the two awards.
Kashmira: Thank you. We are so excited. We couldn’t believe that we actually won two out of three. That was amazing. And all and, and you know, just amazing testament to our team.
Paula: Indeed. Absolutely. We’ll talk them through in a bit more detail as we go through the conversation, because there is so much that this program has done.
First in perhaps the world, I think with some of the kind of innovations you’ve come up with, and very inspiring programs and proposition. But before I get carried away myself, cash, as you know, we always like to start this program literally talking to our, you know, guests about as loyalty industry professionals, other than your own loyalty program, what would you say is your other favorite loyalty program?
Kashmira: I was gonna say SHARE, but since you, that’s not part of it.
Paula: It’s not allowed.
Kashmira: I’d be lying to say that if I said I had only one as loyal, as someone in the loyalty field, there are so many elements within different programs that, that stand out.
But if I had to choose one, I would actually choose Qantas Frequent Flyer program. and because it’s not a Frequent Flyer program, it is a lifestyle program. So while a very large part of that organization is about the airline and and, and you have tremendous rewards on, on the airline because travel is so inspirational to everybody.
It’s how Qantas becomes a part of your life, your day-to-day life. You know, from the financial fields to food and beverage, to wellness, they’ve, they’ve captured the world of the customer within their loyalty program. And I think that it because you know, my background is frequent flyer programs, as well.
But, but I, I really do believe that single proposition loyalty programs I think are a slowly dying breed. And I think that if you cannot find a way to engage with a customer on the everyday, and their everyday world and, and more than just the occasional travel or the occasional stay, I think that you’re not relevant, which is why I believe Qantas has done a tremendous job to stay relevant to customers every single day.
Paula: Well, it’s well noted Kashmira and absolutely, we, we share that would you believe in that? When I first started working in loyalty, which as, you know, other than our, our piece of work together many years ago with Skywards in Emirates, you know, when I full-time got into loyalty, it was in telecommunications which is, you know, again, generally not a very sexy category, but essentially, I remember going to a loyalty conference in London.
And Qantas was the very first brand that was mentioned on stage. And I’m sure the audience has heard me saying this before, but I remember the, the emcee telling us that Qantas was earning more revenue selling its miles than all of its international flights combined, and I merely fell off the chair.
And honestly, so it’s one thing for sure to be able to say you know, the relevance, the everyday life, but then as a business to go, oh my goodness, we’re actually making money out of this. Because that as we know, is a big topic for loyalty industry professionals. So I think it’s a point well made, and I know it’s something we’re gonna talk about in the context of the program we’re here to talk about today. But every airline in fact, when I do interview them always says we want to be a lifestyle program. And I think that light bulb has gone off. And if anyone’s listening and it hasn’t gone off, you heard it here for sure, Kashmira and I fundamentally believe in the lifestyle approach to loyalty because you’re absolutely right.
I think we’re all very jaded about, oh, please download my app, please. You know, put this, card in your wallet. And there’s still plenty of plastic cards in different markets around the world. But actually what we all want is a currency that we love. And I know that’s a word that’s very important to you, and one that we actually get value out of.
So let’s get into talking first of all about your journey, Kashmira, because you are a loyalty industry professional that is known in so many countries around the world, for your work in the airline industry. But you did start in retail, which I did realize that we were talking about today, even before your Skywards day.
So tell us about your loyalty career.
Kashmira: Thank you, Paula. You’re very kind, first and foremost, but,my, my journey did start in retail many, many years ago. I’ve was just attracted to the retail world because that’s the world I grew up in as a little girl. My family had a retail business in the UAE and as I came back from boarding school to visit my family, my father would take me with him to the stores we had and the department store was just like a treasure trove.
And for some reason that just got me very engaged in the world of retail, but more importantly in the world of customers because I would observe different types of customers coming in every single day. So, so I, I did start with a business, I was very much a marketer. And I started as one typically does with, you know, with whether it was brand or advertising.
And in those days, I don’t wanna say how much because how, how long ago that was, because I’ll just give my age away. But, but you know, the world of social did not exist that many years ago. So the traditional, the traditional marketing space and, we used to have a VIP customer program at that point in time, and what it was, was simply giving a discount.
And that discount was given to a customer no matter how much they actually transacted with you or engaged with you. But it was because they were known to somebody and, and, and hence they had that discount. And that’s when, we had the thought of creating a program that was linked very much to what the customer actually did.
How much they spent, how they engaged with us and that’s when the Allied Advantage was created by my boss then, who was actually my brother and, and myself. And I remember ICLP actually reviewing us and auditing us and saying that it was the first true retail loyalty program in the Middle East.
So that, that’s where my career, that’s where I sort of accidentally got into loyalty. What was the actual intention of getting into it? And then, I was really lucky because I wanted to go. I, I was looking to set up my own business in loyalty, funny enough. And then, we saw this, I saw the Emirate thing that they were gonna start up their loyalty program.
So the opportunity to get in at the ground level was really exciting. And I was very lucky to of the launch team at Emirates, when we were launching Skywards. And at that time, Emirates was a fairly small airline. It was beginning to get well known, but it was fairly small. And, I think about two years into, into that journey, Emirates just exploded in terms of its growth. And Skywards, you know, went right alongside it. So I, I spent a fair amount of time with Skywards many, many years and, many exciting years creating what our, our president at the, at the time, Tim Clark and who still is the president there wanted the dialing of the industry. That’s what he wanted us to create, and that’s to do. I think we succeeded. I think we did really well in that.
And then about, about five to six years ago, Majid Al Futtaim approached me to, to talk about what you know, their, their, their ambition, what they wanted to do. And I think the one thing that, oh, two things that really resonated to me about Majid Al Futtaim was one, they had a fantastic ecosystem.
I was already a believer by then that, it wasn’t a frequent flyer program anymore. It had to be a lifestyle program, and we had to engage with the customers on a day to day basis. And Majid Al Futtaim has this amazing ecosystem, not just in the UAE but across the region. It extends from groceries all the way to luxury items. You know, whether there’s entertainment, malls, it’s, it’s a fantastic ecosystem. So that really drew me.
And then the second part really was Majid Al Futtaim’s focus on the customer. It was where I really about, design thinking, you know, customer experience. And the formality of that, that particular field, most of us think that we intuitively know what the customer wants.
But Majid Al Futtaim was really focused on that and is really focused on that. And you see it in, in what we do and SHARE, but also what the organization does is does at large. So that drew me in and, I had the immense opportunity to help design, strategize, design and, implement and manage SHARE.
And I think, you know, the, the, you can have a brilliant strategy but if you don’t know how to necessarily execute that strategy into, take it into execution and operation, you’ll get left. And so here’s, that’s where I am. Slightly long journey or long description of the journey. But…
Paula: I, no, and I love it. And as, as, as I think, you know, a lot of our audience Kashmira are in the US, for example, the UK, Australia. So we do have a truly global audience. The name Majid Al Futtaim may not be as well known internationally, but I think you’ve explained it in an extraordinary way for example. And again, anyone familiar with this region will know that we have enough, a lot of these essentially holding companies, groups of companies which are owned by, by, very prestigious families here who really have a true vision and want to be in absolutely every area of the customer’s lives.
So we do have the malls, we have the cinemas, as you said, you’ve got grocery, you’ve got diamonds, you’ve got absolutely everything from my everyday spend up to, you know, when I’m lucky enough to get diamonds from time to time. So…
Kashmira: There you go.
Paula: Very diverse.
Kashmira: Absoulutely. Yeah, very right. It’s from, it goes from the ordinary to the extraordinary. And that’s, and that’s, you know, so it’s part of your every day and it’s part of your special moments. So you’re right, Majid Al Futtaim is a regional conglomerate. And, it’s got an amazing footprint. And, and, and I think, the, the vision of our founder, who bless, who passed away a couple of years ago, was to create great moments for everyone everyday.
And that’s really where SHARE gets, it gets its ethos from. Because I mean, we could have had a program that was called Majid Al Futtaim Rewards, but that would not convey what we really wanted to do or what he set out to do for his customers.
So SHARE really is about creating moments that you spend with those that you love. And typically you share, when you share moments with the people you love, you create amazing memories. And that’s really what we want SHARE to be.
And our, and our partner that helped us create that concept, which is BBD Perfect Storm, they you know, we, we were so driven by that insight. That, you know, you create the best moments of your life with the people you love. And you do it for sharing. And so SHARE that really is what underpins everything we do.
Paula: Lovely. Yeah. And it is a brave decision as well, I think, because, you know, creating an entirely new brand is an expensive thing to do.
Let’s be honest, in terms of you know, helping people to understand this is not, as you said, Majid Al Futtaim rewards. This is something that really is going to matter in a very different way, and to choose a beautiful single word like that and then establish it as, as a brand, again, across an in extraordinary ecosystem, is, is really, an immense challenge and certainly one that the brand has done extraordinary well as reflected in the awards again that you won last night.
So we’ll get into the proposition now in a second, but even before that, I had a couple of memories from our, our brief crossover in Emirates as well. I just didn’t wanna miss the opportunity. I wonder if you remember because I think I really fell in love with the power of loyalty on a personal level in two ways back in, in the Skywards days.
First of all, there was a co-brand credit card, very early. And I remember describing myself as a points junkie at the time. And I was like, oh my God, that’s really weird that I’m proud of that. So that’s one.
And the other thing was that, that we did an incredible campaign together where I was obviously driving the e-commerce booking engine. And we connected with Skywards as an incredible lever and offered our members double Skyward smiles for booking online with emirates.com, which back in the year 2000, I mean, we literally had bookings in, in single figures and and I remember it got to double figures and that seems unbelievable. But all of our business was through travel agencies and when I was brought in e-commerce marketing manager, how am I gonna drive online booking?
I know we’ve got a database, we’ve got somebody like Kashmira who understands this idea. So do you remember anything back to those days, Kash?
Kashmira: I do. I do. I, I mean, cause I mean, as you rightfully said, Paula, when you came in, we did not have e-commerce in the organization. So I, I absolutely do remember that.
And that was one of the most effective ways that we were able to drive direct revenue to our organization, rather than be so heavily dependent only on the travel industry, travel agent industry. So I, I absolutely do remember that. And, and I, you know, I constantly get this from perhaps the wider marketing community.
Oh, you know, it’s all about coins. So it’s all about the currency is very transactional. And I completely get that, that, you know, a loyalty program has to be more than just the transaction. It has to be about the emotion that it creates, the emotional connection that it creates for the customer.
However, that element, the currency, is the sticky factor. It’s the glue that keeps the customer with the organization. So while all the other elements are very important because you want to build that relationship, you want to build that connection, there are certain hygiene factors that a customer absolutely wants. They don’t even think about it twice, right?
They, that is the nature of, the loyalty business. For the most part, there are loyalty programs that don’t have currencies that, that focus just on benefits. But, especially when you’re thinking about, a, an organization like ours or a ecosystem like ours, when it’s, it’s in essence a coalition program, right?
What is the one thing that you can do that, that unifies that ecosystem? It typically tends to be a currency. And, you referred a little earlier, in the jour, in, in the conversation that, you know, we had incredible redemption levels. And you’re absolutely right. We went, we set up very intentionally, Paula to, to make the Share points currency, just like the fiat currency.
We wanted people to use it like cash. And they do. I’m afraid I can’t tell you exactly what the redemption levels are, but I have never seen redemption levels like this anywhere in my 30 years in the industry. And, and so in a sense it’s a good problem to have because I still have to worry about program economics and make sure that, you know, we’re, well, we, we manage that well.
But I think having the currency shows the value that customers get back from the program. And so in our days in Skywards you know how people were absolutely like you said, you were a points junkie. And there are many such individuals within, within the world. And it’s not just because you’re points junkie, there’s value coming back to you.
Paula: For sure.
Kashmira: That’s what’s the most essential element, right? And this is why customers get so disenfranchised when you continue, when currencies continue to be devalued. So, so that I think is, is, is an extremely important driver for loyalty programs. I don’t think you can underestimate the power of the currency, but also you’ve got make sure that the currency resonates in the right way.
If you create too many hurdles customers are not going to take it up. It’s, it’s not going to be as engaging as we will want it to be. So we also intentionally reduce the hurdles. So for example, if you have one term, you can redeem it. Which is 10 points in our ecosystem.
So you don’t have to have a hundred or a thousand points before you redeem which is, which is unlike the perhaps, some other, industries and loyalty. Because you at least need, you know, 10,000 miles or something like that to to, to redeem. So, that was our focus on the currency.
Paula: Yeah. And, and the, the currency makes perfect sense. And I would love, I, I always have this, you know, deep desire to see the PNL, which of course is never going to happen.
Kashmira: Maybe one day.
Paula: Maybe, I think when I started this podcast, I had this naive idea that I’d actually get that type of insight. But of course, I’m not gonna actually be able to ask you that. So just so the audience knows, it’s not that I don’t want to.
But, you’ve mentioned the redemption piece, on the burn side, but I know you also have a very generous approach in terms of the earning side. So would you give the audience, again, a sense of what SHARE is offering as a core proposition? And again, the currency makes perfect sense to tie together, as we said, every day spend all the way up to luxury.
But give us a sense of the, the kind of earning rates that a member of the SHARE program can enjoy.
Kashmira: Sure. Our earning rates go anywhere from about, 0.5% value back. All the way up onto 0.8, 0.25% value back because we combine the power of the SHARE, Majid Al Futtaim ecosystem itself, plus the power of our co-branded credit card which allows you to really amplify your earning. I mean, we launched this about five or six months ago. And I can’t tell you the kinda value that we give back to customers. It’s tremendous. I’m, I’m a believer. I can’t tell you how much money I’ve spent and how much I’ve got back that we just make me look appalling.
But, I can say that the value is phenomenal. And the value is phenomenal not just because of that you go up to about 8.25%. For example, we provide six point, six point up from anywhere between six and 7% on grocery. And you know, that’s unheard of.
And you will hear other programs talk about that. But what, what you don’t necessarily see with other programs and other credit cards is that there is a maximum amount that is paid out or there is a minimum limit that you have to spend. We have none of those. We have no mins, no backs. What you see is what you get. You can continue to earn, within our ecosystem.
So, so that’s the range of the currency and now that’s very, very powerful. But alongside, alongside the value that we give back in the form of currency to our customers, I, I earlier mentioned, we don’t put any hurdles to, to redeem. So it makes it a very, it makes it just like a currency.
And you can earn that currency anywhere in our ecosystem which is you know, which, which, as you pointed out earlier, it’s got groceries, it’s got entertainment, it’s got fashion, high street fashion, luxury, every F&B, the works. It’s very extensive.
And then we are also, we also have partners. So we have airline partners. We have booking.com, which is about travel. We’ve just tied up with Etisalat. so we’ve got now a telecommunications partner where you can exchange your points. So especially for Etisalat customers, you know? They’re, they’re earning on their day-to-day spend on their mobile, and sometimes they want to be able to use that, in very many different ways.
Whether it’s, whether it’s groceries, whether it’s, a little bit of, get pick up a birthday gift for somebody in the fashion space. So, so that.
But, but, in addition to that Paula, what we, our value proposition also allows customers to do more than that. In that we made sure that sharing was a central concept. And a central component of the program.
So we, when we first started, we started with what we call a family program. And I, you tend to see these, another loyalty programs. Where you, could come together as a family and pull your points, points together. And what we also allowed between family members was to transfer points to family members. So they didn’t have to, you know, so it was flexible.
But when Covid hit, we felt that customers wanted to do more. And we were hearing that we, you know, we, we were engaging with our customers, even though at that point in time, a lot of our assets were closed. We kept in touch with our customers and we heard what they wanted to say.
So we opened up the transfer of points to anyone, anyone that the customers felt needed it. You know, life took us all in very different directions during Covid. And we did the transfer without any cost to the customer. And we still do the transfer of points. We still do that, we do not charge the customer for any of the points that they transfer to somebody they want to.
Now, obviously, you’ve gotta be also mindful as, as a loyalty operator of you know, the, the risk that might sometimes come when people try and, you know, misuse that, facility. But we feel that, or I personally do believe, that loyalty programs are very, very stringent. Most of the time they’re quite rigid.
There are quite rigid rules, and I think we have to get away from that. Especially if you look at where, you know, if you look at the world today, if you look at the choices customers make, the kind of customers that we have, you know, customers who are much more socially responsible, much more community driven.
I think loyalty programs and limited platforms have to cater to that have to, and, and you try to do it with an understanding of the customer an emotional connection to the customer and through flex, flexibility and choice. And that’s what we are trying to do.
Paula: And also integrity, Kash. I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s probably the word I use most, most often on this show, and you’re absolutely right.
Like I genuinely do have an issue when I need to transfer points, for example, to my husband, you know, to get him a redemption flight if I’ve got the points and he doesn’t, and there’s a cost to us to doing that. And again, maybe I missed the memo where I was supposed to set it up as a family program and maybe there was a workaround, but honestly, I’m busy. So I haven’t got it figured out. So, so to have that level of generosity, which absolutely is a critical proof point of the brand name that you’ve chosen, and to demonstrate that people can share their SHARE point’s currency with each other without losing out along the way, that to me is a genuine indicator and a beautiful way for a retail brand, which can seem faceless.
Let’s be honest, to actually demonstrate we are being loyal to you as a member. So fair play. I’m pretty sure that that wasn’t an easy one to negotiate internally when you wanted to do it.
Kashmira: Correct. And, and it’s, it’s one that we have to continue to monitor.
Paula: Of course.
Kashmira: Cause like I said earlier, you know, people will tend to try and misuse it in some shape or form. But I also believe that there are, I mean, ultimately, SHARE as a platform for the organization has multiple purposes. We, we are both at once the loyalty program for the organization, but we’re also the public facing brand of the corporate Majid Al Futtaim world.
People know us more by the brands. We have the assets we have, whether it’s Carrefour, whether it’s Vox, whether it’s more of the Emirates. And all the different malls that we operate. But Majid Al Futtaim is the, the overarching umbrella of the conglomerate that we fit under. And, but it is more of a corporate brand, which is why SHARE is really the public facing brand of Majid Al Futtaim. So we’ve got that hat.
But we’ve also, you know, we, we, like any loyalty program, our drive is to be able to increase lifetime value for the organization. Our, our drive is to create brand love. Our drive is, and, and, and one of the biggest elements, of that is to understand our customers.
You know, data is new gold and, or the new oil, if you will. And, and, Truly understanding your customers is, is critical. But before SHARE was born, our organization had multiple loyalty programs. Which were not necessarily connected. But they’ve all now been brought into one.
So we now know and truly understand how our customer behaves across our ecosystem, across our partners. And with that information, we want to ensure that we create a truly personalized experience. I think all loyalty programs, all brands talk about personalization, but I think we still struggle with truly delivering on that level of personalization.
So for creating that unified view of the customer, that single view of the customer was very, was paramount importance to Majid Al Futtaim. So while, we’ve created the program with perhaps some, how would I put this? You know, some elements of the program probably go against the grain of most other loyalty programs, such as the, as a transfer of points.
But it was a proof point in ensuring that we really drew our customers in. And when you see the way they engage with the program, you see the levels of incremental revenue that the program drives. We’ve succeeded in that, on that side. Ultimately, ultimately, as a loyalty company within Majid Al Futtaim, we do have a PNL since you wanted to know.
And we have to, we do have to breakeven and make money. So we, it going to be a balancing act. How you manage your program economics, how you drive partner revenue versus internal revenue, how you manage your breakage all of that has to come into play. So, we try to be very mindful as we grow the program, to, to, to fine tune that balance so that we don’t really have to detract the value that we give to our customers.
Paula: For sure, yeah.
Kashmira: It’s the constant, you know, it’s, it keeps us challenged, let’s move, let’s put it that way.
Paula: Keeps us on our toes. And you’re absolutely right. The job is never done and it’s never done on both sides. So whether it’s, you know, educating and inspiring consumers or the internal piece, which I would love to just get a sense, and again, I know there’s sensitivities, you won’t be able to give us any detail, but in my experience, there’s usually a lot of skepticism, particularly, you know, with so many beautiful brands with different margin levels, they’re operating in such different ways.
So what was your journey like, just even anecdotally in terms of taking the group on the journey to, to launching the program back six years ago when you, you, you got it started?
Kashmira: Yes, you’re right. You know, there are, there are people with different opinions across the board. But I, I think we were very fortunate and I was very fortunate because I had a CEO at the time who, and a CMO at the time who absolutely believed in the power of loyalty.
And, and they were you know, they really helped set the groundwork. And all the CEOs that exist within the Majid Al Futtaim, business are all firm believers in the loyalty program. They’re firm believers in a unified, experience across, marginal, and they believe in the power of math, which is our Majid Al Futtaim world.
So I think my job is a little easier to start with. And, and typically when you have, you know, when, when you, okay, you have different programs, when you bring it together in one unified ecosystem, it’s powerful. It’s new, it’s a shiny new thing. And so the buy-in was actually quite good at that point in time, I think the challenge for us, in the as a professional in, in the loyalty business, is about retaining that interest from your stakeholders, retaining the, the belief from your stakeholders. And, and, and that, you know, is, is a journey that we, we go on, every single day. And, it becomes more challenging when you’re coalition.
Because each stakeholder has a different perspective or has different needs and wants. There are different models, you know, they’ve got a different business model that applies. So as the fairly complex program, it’s not like when you’ve got a frequent fly program, you’re talking about one airline with partners. Or you’re talking about one hotel group with partners. But in a coalition like this, you’ve got different product categories that have different margins that can give different value back to the customer that have different requirements from the loyalty program.
So every day is a healthy challenge, is all I can say. I can talk to you more about that one on one, but, I think there are a few lessons I’ve learned that I could perhaps share with your audience is that, I think create transparency on, on what really makes on the, on the loyalty PNL, create that transparency.
Find ways and means to be able to demonstrate the incremental revenue that you’re bringing to that individual business unit or to your individual stakeholder. And that’s always a challenge because, measuring incrementality is not easy, especially when you don’t have access to external data points to be able to compare before and after.
We were lucky with some of the information we had and we were able to demonstrate some very strong incrementality. Show how you’ve brought value back to them. That’s most important. Make sure you hear what they want. And work with them to be able to achieve that. And, and always communicate. And I, I’ve certainly learned that along the way. I’m still learning. I, I’m by, I have by no means, fully succeeded. They keep me honest every single day, but it’s, it’s, it’s been a tremendous journey.
Paula: Yeah. Yeah, I’m nodding vigorously as you can see here. You know, because I know exactly what it’s like and, and it is important because we’re all business owners, and as you said, they’ve got their own PNL.
You’ve got your own PNL. So as long as there is that overarching vision, I guess, at the group level, then there is that level of mutual dependency and respect, I guess, in terms of making sure that the consumer ultimately has that beautiful experience. You know, no matter whether it is the grocery store or whether it is the cinema or any of the particular outlets.
And that I think is probably, the perfect lead into, I think, my favorite piece of what you’ve done recently in terms of the operational side of making this an even more exceptional experience because we all know the journey, with, with receipt scanning, was a necessary evil in many industries, particularly for the retail sector for an awful long time.
And I know you did have to launch with that, but tell us about the evolution and the innovation that you’ve achieved in the last few months on that side.
Kashmira: Great. Thank you. Yeah, we’re very, very excited about it. We’ve honor won a couple of awards for it. So what we, as rightfully pointed out, receipt scanning was a large of our inception.
We have brands that are directly Majid Al Futtaim brands which are point of sale integrated. So there you can use, you just opened the SHARE app and you can use the barcode, and scan for both earn and burn. But where we are a mall operator, we’ve got tenants and partners in that ecosystem where their systems are not integrated, where you can’t just use the, the barcode, which meant that we had to go with receipt scanning.
Now, some customers strangely love receipt scanning, but the most part, for the most part it is painful. You use that, take that receipt, put it in your bag, or put it away, and then forget it. So we’ve been, we started, even when we started, we did have a, a digital wallet of some sort, but it, it was, it was still clunky.
But we built on that. And what we essentially have created is a digital payment solution that allows instant realtime earning and spending of loyalty points through a single tap. So it, it, it, you essentially connect your credit cards into our digital wallet. Which then is embedded within Apple, Google, or Samsung Pay digital wallets.
So if, if you want, all you have to do, if you want, all you have to do is go into a store and when you’re ready to pay simply go into Apple Pay, select that particular card. And, and do the normal double click that you do with your Apple wallet. Now if you want to use your, and so that’s when you earn.
So you, at that particular point in time you pay for your credit card. And you earn your points. That’s done. Instantly.
Paula: Yeah. Instantly.
Kashmira: And then when you’ve got, and so, and then when you’ve got, when you want to redeem your points, again, within our app, there’s, there’s just a little big button in the middle of our app.
You click that. It allows you to say, I want to use all my points for this particular transaction, or if I want, you want to use a combination of cash plus points. You, you just,use the,the, the scale to say what, what that ratio should be. And then you tap on the, on the, the credit card. And that’s it.
It is, it’s literally that 1, 1, 1 1 tap solution. And, once you use SHARE Pay, you can’t go back to receive it. It’s become, it’s just what we wanted to do was we wanted to innovate and create a seamless journey for our customers. We wanted to create magical moments of delight. We wanted to create an emotional, and, and there is, you know, once you move from receipt scanning to this particular mechanism, that thing, there is an emotional moment there.
You think, oh my gosh, that’s it. That’s all I have to do. And, so yes, so, it basically creates a digital card in the background. And, and that links to any cards, any credit card or multiple credit cards, you can have up to all, eight credit cards linked to it. And you can receive all your points and redeem right there.
So all in one seamless transaction, you never have to worry about losing out on a receipt or losing out your rewards because it’s done right there. And then.
Paula: Amazing. It is my favorite idea. And, and it was only recently that I, I, I hear that you actually have it within the SHARE Pay program. The SHARE program.
And, and to me it’s the one that will absolutely drive ultimate advocacy because, that is like, when you nail it with a wow experience like that, then people just tell each other, like, you don’t really need to think about the education and the awareness and, and you know, really kind of hand holding.
Because people show their friends and they’re their family. And it’s just like, no, no, no, this is what you do. Because it’s kind of like bragging rights as well. When I get to, I’ve, I’ve got this cool functionality. So, so I’m guessing the customer adoption must be absolutely astronomical for this one.
Kashmira: We started, we started slowly because we wanted to test it out. So we started a with iOS members. And now we’re gradually, we’re gradually rolling it out. So we’ve just introduced Samsung. You happy both on iOS and Android? And so you’re, you, but we are doing it gradually because we want to make sure that it one works seamlessly.
That it resonates. And also in the digital phase, we also have to be mindful about how we ensure that there is no misuse of, of, of that particular capability. So, yes. Once in terms of the takeup, once a customer understands it and gets onto it, nothing like it.
So right now we’re focusing very much on the education of our members. And guessing to understand how easy it is. Unfortunately, but fortunately, COVID did a lot for really creating an awareness and a, a drive for digital payments. So we expect that adoption to accelerate very considerably. It is also very new for us. But I’m looking forward to the day when I can actually remove receipt scanning from our ecosystem so that, that that’s a goal. That’s an ambition.
Paula: Okay, so I am gonna be watching and waiting with baited breath for that milestone as well, Kash. Because yeah, I, I can just imagine to have the confidence to say no, we’re turning it off. We’ve got a new system and it’s working beautifully, and we’re reassured there’s no fraud issue.
So you, you’ve reminded me that I probably do need to do a podcast at some stage about fraud and loyalty because it’s such a big issue. Alongside obviously other big things like privacy or whatever. So, but, but, but there’s just, there’s so many areas of specialty. What I’m thinking is it’s almost like we, we probably need to be doing some kind of round table discussions to kind of share, share learning.
So maybe something off-air we might discuss, separately Kashmira, because I feel like you’ve got the most expertise perhaps that I’ve come across in terms of making sure that you’re aware and managing all of those risks in the background. So, so loads to talk about. I think what I do want to make sure we’re coming up to the end of this conversation.
Is that we keep, you know, having these conversations and please, God, next year again, we, we’ll, we’ll touch base and do an ep, another episode about SHARE. So that’s all I wanted to go through today. were there any other kind of big ideas or thoughts or comments that you wanted to share with the audience before we wrap up?
Kashmira: Yes, perhaps a couple. First and foremost, Paula, thank you so much for this opportunity. It’s, you know, even in the marketing society, one of the things I said to them, I said, I don’t really see loyalty on your agenda quite the way it should be. So I’m hoping that, with individuals like yourself and, and the people that work in the loyalty space, we can really raise the awareness on what this brings, to a company.
I, I’m seeing loyalty programs and the need for loyalty programs or the desire for loyalty programs really absolutely explode in the last few months. So I hope we can continue to raise the bar on that conversation. And I guess, just a couple of other points, I think one of the things that we really learned through SHARE, and it’s been quite a breath of fresh air for all of us that work in SHARE is that it’s allowed us to do things quite differently.
As, as loyalty or, loyalty, industry special, specialists or, or as marketers. One is that we really set out to have our customers fall in love with us. And so that’s one of the awards that we won for the Marketing Society. And so if you look at our communication and the way we go about it.
So there’s, there’s obviously the side that is, is all about bringing value back to the organization and bringing, revenue back to the organization. But you can’t do that if your customers don’t believe in you and if you can’t instill that sense of love.
So, I would encourage all people within the loyalty industry to think about that emotional connection. How do you build that emotional connection? And that goes beyond just come and buy with us. What, what do you need to do? And I’ve been very fortunate to have members within my team who are absolutely brilliant at it and, and, and have really been able to, crack that piece.
The second thing that I would say, is that, you know, when I first came into this, as, into Majid Al Futtaim from a, a frequent flyer program, I was a traditional loyalty advocate or, or a practitioner.
And, and I, so I came with, with, and created an organization structure that was very traditional, very functionally led. As, as we were a digital first product. And that’s been very, very important to us. We’ve had to embrace different ways of working. So, even though we have functional experts, what we do is we come together in focused squads, embracing things like design thinking, machine learning. Revamping our delivery processes to make sure that we are continuously discovering, we’re always agile, and that we decrease our time to market.
I mean, you know, gone are days when you innovated once a year maybe, and half once a year. Every couple of years you have to do this every day. There is a need to, and, and I think building loyalty companies with that mindset with a much more agile mindset is very, very critical today. And so it’s about rethinking how you organize yourselves as well. And those are the only two things I guess I’d like to leave you with.
Paula: Wonderful. And I am guessing you’re gonna be provoking a lot of thinking as well, Kashmira.
So with your permission, I’m going to ask if we can maybe just link to your LinkedIn profile, within the show notes for this episode of course. So if there’s people around the world perhaps who wanna connect with you, maybe pick your brains on a couple of issues, hopefully that’s okay with you, that we can organize for people to, to stay connected.
Kashmira: Absolutely. It would be my absolute pleasure to be able to talk to like-minded individuals.
Paula: Amazing. It’s always so inspiring. Listen, as I said, it’s long overdue. Huge congratulations, and hopefully just the first of many conversations we have between us. So I just want to say Kashmira Motiwalla, Group Head, Senior Director of Loyalty at Majid Al Futtaim.
Thank you so much from Let’s Talk Loyalty.
Kashmira: Thank you so much, Paula.
Paula: This show is sponsored by The Wise Marketer, the world’s most popular source of loyalty, marketing, news, insights, and research. The Wise Marketer also offers loyalty marketing training through its Loyalty Academy, which has already certified over 500 executives in 38 countries as certified loyalty marketing professionals.
For more information, check out thewisemarketer.com and loyaltyacademy.org.
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