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Saturday July 28, 2012

Marketing tool gets techy

THE days of paper-based loyalty stamp cards adding extra bulk to one’s wallet are finally over, thanks to Werebits Sdn Bhd’s recent introduction of a new mobile application (app) to replace the pieces of paper that also have a habit of getting lost.

Werebits, a developer of mobile apps, supported by Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd, invested RM80,000 to develop the application called Chopink.

Ho Heng Yew, Werebits’ marketing director, said the app revolutionises the loyalty-card experience for both retailers and consumers.

“Loyalty stamp cards have always been a favourite marketing tool for small and medium-sized retailers. Our goal is to provide a simple yet innovative solution for them to keep track of their customers,” he said.

“Customers always complain that their cards get lost or misplaced. Now, they will no longer need to carry their loyalty cards when they make purchases,” he said.

Innovative idea: Werebits co-founder Teon Ooi and Ho at the launch of the mobile application.

With only five software developers, it took approximately six months to complete the project using Amazon’s cloud infrastructure.

Chopink is a cloud-based application which supports Apple and Android smart phones. In three simple steps, customers can “acquire” a “chop” using the app — the list of chops will then be shown in the phone.

Customers need to download the app, ask for the quick respond (QR) code from selected outlets of partnering merchants and scan the QR code with the app. Chopink will then validate the purchase.

According to Ho, this is a breakthrough as the company is the first in Malaysia to develop this type of cloud-based application. He added that he expects it will become a crowd puller for retailers and boost their sales.

Tan Hai Hsin, managing director of consultancy RGM Retail Group (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, who was also present at the launch shared some of the retailing trends in Malaysia.

“The rise in the cost of living in Malaysia will directly affect retail prices. However, retail sales are still expected to see growth of 6% this year. Last year’s growth recorded a 8.1% rise in sales,” he said.

“This shows that there is still a significant increase in sales despite the elevated cost of living,” he said.

“Products like Taiwanese bubble tea, yogurt and iced desserts have penetrated the Malaysian market. There is also a rise in retailers such as cafes and fashion outlets.

“Even during a downturn, there are still a lot of opportunities for the retail market. Those who survive are the ones who were able to understand the needs and wants of today’s consumers,” he said.

“People don’t only indulge in products and services offered, but also the ambience provided by the retailers. Outlets like Starbucks and Chatime, which are lavishly decorated, provide a classy ambience customers enjoy,” he said.

“I predict that next year’s growth in retail sales will be similar at approximately 6%, but it still depends on how the economy fares next year,” he said.

Ho said the new app will soon be available for phones using Windows and BlackBerry software. To date, the app is being used by 18 retailers, including Gloria Jeans Coffee and Wings Musicafe, with up to 40 outlets concentrated in the Klang Valley, Penang and Johor Baru.

“We are looking for more brands and retailers to collaborate with us. We are also targeting to reach 100 different brands with 1,000 new outlets nationwide by the end of this year,” he said.

“There is still a lot of room to grow and we expect to break even by the end of this year,” he said.

“We also plan to introduce this app to neighbouring countries next year,” he concluded.

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