We recently spoke with the founder of Perks Loyalty, Achille Traore, who made it onto The Fresh Business Thinking Shift 100, Retail Technology edition in association with KPMG Small Business Accounting.

What made you launch your business?

I decided to launch Perks Loyalty because I was getting increasingly frustrated with loosing and forgetting my loyalty cards. Everywhere you go they give you a plastic or paper card which after a while massively clog up your wallet space. You end up loosing or forgetting them which is frustrating when you are nearing that final stamp. So I thought, “What if I could have all these cards on an app on my mobile phone. That way I wouldn’t loose or forget them and my wallet would be free of the bulge!”

We identified a massive problem and I couldn’t find an effective solution. At the same time, I saw the struggle independent local businesses were facing when competing with giants such as Starbucks.

Large retailers are all moving to create a digital solution to loyalty. But this technology has not been made accessible and affordable to the smaller retailers who really make up the local community. So I wanted to create an affordable technology that allowed them to bridge the gap and gain access to the same level of technology as large retailers to be able to reward, retain and identify their key customers but for a fraction of the cost.

The Perks Loyalty platform provides merchants with in-depth analytics to identify their top customers and performance of their loyalty programme. It also allows them to contact their loyal customer base through mobile notifications which have a 96% open rate compared to emails with a 20% open rate.

Do you think there is a change in customer behaviour?

Mobile accessibility is hugely important. We built the Perks platform as the loyalty solution of the mobile age. This has resulted in larger businesses wanting to benefit from our sophisticated platform on a white label basis tailoring the solutions to their brand and business objectives.

By using our platform rather building something from scratch saves brands a fortune whilst assuring that they are acquiring a robust and tested solution.

Video is also a big trend. If you go to a website and there’s no video you run the risk of losing conversions because people are less likely to read your information. It is easier and less time consuming, so the use of video is becoming more important.

Another big shift we’ve seen is that people are more likely and happier to self-service. Self-service is growing very quickly, and now you can do self-service on your mobile. Banks are closing branches due to the uptake of mobile banking empowering people to carry out complex transactions, and once again, mobile is the centrepiece.

Social networks are continually growing, and we can see that the market is being more and more consolidated as the operators keep acquiring each other. I anticipate that we will end up with three or four major players who own everything in the social space.

What advice would you give for an entrepreneur just starting up?

  1. When you start a business it’s very easy to have an idea and start thinking about all the amazing features that you want to implement. My main advice would be to create an MVP (minimumViable Product) I’ve seen far too many examples of start-ups trying to create the perfect product straight away without having achieved market fit which in many cases results in that the product never launches.
  1. Understand your value proposition! In summary; create a MVP, find your customer, understand your audience and ask them what they want to see in your product, Is there a demand for your products, who are the competitors and how do you differ. Do your research, that’s really important.
  1. The final thing I’d raise is to love what you do. If you really love what you do, the money will come and you have to be prepared to put the work in, which it’s always easier when you love what you do.
What are your plans for your business for 2017 and beyond?

We are planning a big year for 2017. Our ambition in 2017 is to become a household name in digital loyalty in the UK and we will raise growth investment to achieve this. It’s quite a bold ambition but we have the product, the team and the route to market to really become a key player on the market.