Pete Howroyd, CEO and Founder, Swapi – Retail Technology Innovation Center
Pete Howroyd talks to RTIH about how he’s tackling the issue of unspent loyalty rewards with the launch of Swapi, a mobile app company.
RTIH: Tell us about yourself
PH: I have worked for over 20 years in loyalty, marketing and CRM roles in the UK and Australia.
The goal for me has always been to work with companies on strategies that improve ROI and customer engagement in retention, and to develop advanced customer and data driven cultures.
During my time I have run well-known loyalty programs with companies in the retail, fashion, pharmacy, tech and luxury industries including brands such as Harvey Nichols, Harrods , Myer (Australia) and Sigma Healthcare.
In 2018, I founded The Loyalty People, an exciting new global collective of loyalty and CRM experts created to give clients access to a network of trusted associates for any loyalty project.
In 2020 I took another leap into the business world and founded the Global Loyalty App, Swapi.
RTIH: What was the inspiration behind the creation of the company?
PH: I moved from London to the countryside just at the start of the Covid pandemic. It was devastating to see the impact of the foreclosure on many brands and businesses in the retail industry.
Everyone was discussing ideas to support them and help them rebuild better and stronger, and I started to think about the bigger picture of loyalty.
I’ve always been intrigued by the £ 6bn of hidden, unspent loyalty rewards that go unused on UK cards. That’s an even bigger number globally, standing at $ 360 billion. Was there an innovative way to unlock part of this tender for the retail economy?
One of the biggest problems with loyalty is the fact that consumers don’t always want to spend their loyalty points.
This is mainly due to the fact that they belong to a number of schemas, the redemption is not as straightforward as it could be, the level of value is ambiguous – or they just don’t want the rewards provided. .
I started to think about how to create something more relevant to consumers that gave them the impetus to spend their rewards.
I was actually in the countryside walking my dog when the idea occurred to me: an app that allowed people to redeem their points between brands. I went home and started writing the business plan that day.
“I have always been intrigued by the £ 6bn of hidden and unspent loyalty rewards that remain unused on UK cards. That’s an even bigger number globally, standing at $ 360 billion. Was there an innovative way to unlock some of this tender for the retail economy? “
RTIH: How has the industry reacted so far?
PH: We have had an incredible response from people of all stripes.
My first step was to test the idea with senior retail contacts and they all could immediately see that Swapi offered a simple and innovative solution to loyalty challenges, bringing benefits everywhere.
First, it’s good for consumers. The app allows users to pool all of their cards and points into a “ digital wallet ”, giving them the power to redeem and spend their unwanted rewards with other favorite brands – in the form of points, cards – gifts, offers or products.
And it’s the only app to provide this swap without the need to buy and sell loyalty currencies, reducing the value of the rewards.
Second, Swapi works for brands. For brands that customers redeem from, this provides a positive message about point expiration, and speeds up the breakout.
It also retains customers in the core loyalty program, adding an additional cost-effective benefit to a brand’s loyalty program.
For brands that gain new customers through “swap”, Swapi helps stimulate customer acquisition and provides a new source of revenue for the business.
It also supports brands without a loyalty program, offering Swapi points through card-linked offers, which customers can use across the ecosystem.
Finally, in addition to unlocking new tenders to spend, Swapi is a way to meet the challenge that many companies face when it comes to the responsibility of loyalty programs.
In the second phase of its development, it will also integrate with charities to allow people to redeem their points for donations to their favorite causes.
RTIH: What was your biggest challenge / failure?
PH: On a personal level, he understood the world of investment. I come from a background in a company working in-house or as a consultant, and I had no experience or exposure to the world of finance.
I would say, however, that like most entrepreneurs, I am drawn to the challenge and found this aspect of starting a business to be truly rewarding.
I have learned a lot over the past year, and we are also fortunate to have attracted a brilliant team to commercialize the idea of Swapi, which includes very experienced leaders in the areas of loyalty, business and of finance.
“People have broken many of their old ways because of the lockdown, and the old loyalty rules no longer apply. There is a new urgency in finding ways to engage customers and retain them. I think Swapi can play an important role in this solution ”
RTIH: What are the biggest challenges facing the omnichannel commerce industry right now?
PH: The pandemic has challenged retailers in an almost unimaginable way, and they all have to plan and adapt very quickly to respond.
From my perspective, loyalty statistics show that people have broken many of their old ways due to foreclosure, and the old loyalty rules no longer apply.
There is a new urgency in finding ways to engage customers and retain them. I think Swapi can play an important role in this solution.
RTIH: What’s the best question about your business or the market that you’ve been asked recently by an investor?
PH: Why would companies allow customers to redeem their points? I understand why this may seem counterintuitive.
However, giving customers the ability to spend their rewards more freely is actually a positive benefit for brands and something that will increase their customers’ loyalty in the long run.
RTIH: And a client?
PH: What else can we exchange?
Again, that’s a good question, and while our focus initially is building Swapi into the retail industry, we’ll quickly follow up with a second phase of development.
This includes adding features to the app that allow for interaction with a very wide range of businesses as well as charitable donations.
RTIH: What can we expect from you over the next 12 months?
PH: We already have a significant private secure raise, and at the moment we are pre-registering interest in a crowdcube crowdfunding campaign.
We’re very excited to see this launch live at the end of February, and then the countdown will be on for our full launch this summer.