by Guest Post
On January 16, the New York Times published a cover story titled “Beyond the Bitcoin Bubble.” The article was a nuanced discussion about the possibilities of the decentralized internet, and its essential argument is summarized in a single sentence: “The Bitcoin bubble may ultimately turn out to be a distraction from the true significance of the blockchain.”
There is so much encapsulated in the “true significance” of the blockchain that it would be difficult to quantify the blockchain’s true reach. However, as new digital currencies continually expand its possibilities, there is a common thread woven throughout the movement: businesses and customers are changing the way they interact and the way they reward one another for those interactions.
In the past, the company/customer relationship was transactional and straightforward. Customers would often shop for the best deal based on known information, and companies would advertise their products to expand the possibility that customers would choose their business as the purchase point.
To try and get ahead of the advertising curb, most businesses started to adopt loyalty programs or discount cards that provided customers with rewards in exchange for their loyal purchases. This was once a novel idea, but those loyalty cards now feel more like useless hindrances than like great reward opportunities.
Cryptocurrencies’ collective proliferation is changing the ways that businesses can interact with the customers. More specifically, it’s changing the way that business can reward customers for connecting with their platform, and the iterations of this are pretty impressive.
These are just a few of my favorites.
On-Demand Product Information
At this point, everyone is familiar with targeted advertising. Companies track our participation on various websites, and they generate advertisements based on the things that we view online. That’s why that creepy ad for shoes is following you all over the internet.
However, new blockchain platforms like Shping are making this process more personal and more-timely. Shping brings the online shopping experience, replete with customer reviews and product information, to the in-store experience. Since most people are still shopping in physical stores, this platform bridges the gap between the abundance of online information and the physical purchase of an item.
Brands have a say in this process as well. If a customer scans an object, he or she can choose to watch an advertisement in exchange for Shping’s native currency.
Reverse Targeted Advertising
The Brave browser eliminates all ads and tracking services, but it allows users to compensate platforms or content creators that they support by using the browser’s native BAT token. In this way, users can target for support the things they care about the most, instead of having brands target them for advertising. This novel concept has attracted over 1 million users in its first year, and it will be interesting to see how this impacts funding methods for internet content.
Customer Loyalty Programs
This has an element of the same customer interaction ideas from a decade ago, but with the blockchain, it really is a new concept. As research and consulting firm Deloitte notes, “Customer loyalty programs are not realizing their full potential due to low redemption rates, time delays, and high costs.” However, with the blockchain, those trends are reversible, and companies are adapting the practices accordingly.
This model could soon be headed to a Hooters restaurant near you. According to a CNN report, Chanticleer Holdings, the owners of several burger restaurants and the famous chicken wing restaurant, will be utilizing a blockchain-based customer loyalty program to reward customers for eating at their estaurants.
In keeping with the cryptocurrency ethos, customers can “use the rewards for future burger purchases or could trade with other people.” After all, customer loyalty points are great, but an appreciating digital currency is even better.
That’s the real value add customers. Companies can offer valuable rewards or shopping incentives through their platforms that directly improve the customer buying experience while also providing a digital currency that can appreciate in value. Of course, the ultimate value of these digital currencies could only be to the company that issued it, the possibility of attaining the next bitcoin in exchange for viewing a commercial seems like a pretty good value proposition in itself.
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