How many dog-eared loyalty cards are stuffed in your wallet right now? Whether they're rewards cards for pharmacies or restaurants, loyalty cards can amass quickly and, if you’re not strategic about your shopping, expire well before you have the chance to claim that free cupcake.
All-your-cards-in-one fintech Savyu wants users to never miss a reward again. First launched in Saigon’s Thao Dien ward, the startup is now expanding city-wide. By taking people’s loyalty cards and scratch cards into the cloud, the app aspires to make it easier for consumers to collect and redeem rewards points.
For the merchants, Savyu’s attraction lies in its promise to compensate for the gap in e-commerce that the brick-and-mortar retailers often struggle with. Consolidated into one smartphone app, they get broader reach and valuable and actionable insights.
Savyu was launched by a triumvirate of techpreneurs: Timothy Leung, the former Global Head of Business Development at Alibaba.com and current Head of Alibaba AI Labs; Douglas Li, current non-executive director at Citibank and founding CEO of SmarTone – one of the largest telecom companies in Hong Kong and Macau; and Jerome Ly who was responsible for launching Alibaba.com in Brazil in his capacity as the Managing Director.
Jerome’s first brush with mobile payment technology dates back to 2012 when he accepted the China-based role of the Country Managing Director for Mobexo, an early mobile payment company. Then he joined Smartone and led the development of KISS, a mobile payment and marketing platform for retailers to connect effectively with consumers, driving engagement, sales and loyalty.
We asked Jerome what insights informed their combined decision to launch the company and about Savyu’s ambition to bring Saigon’s leading retailers under one loyalty program.
What gap in the market does the app fill?
Online e-commerce platforms have managed to gather impressive customer databases these past few years. In fact, they’ve amassed so much data that they can predict with a certain degree of accuracy what a customer will buy in the next few weeks! Brick-and-mortar retailers, on the other hand, are very underserved in that respect as very few have the resources to consolidate sales, marketing and data analytics solutions on one platform. This is where Savyu comes in!
In Vietnam, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, over 95% of the total retail sales still come from physical stores. Savyu aims to serve this massive untapped market.
What is Savyu’s vision?
Savyu aims to revolutionize brick-and-mortar retail. For decades, retailers have had to wait passively for customers to walk into their shops. Location was king. Now with the spread of social media, online promotions can create significant boosts to the bottom line for retailers. At Savyu we are bringing massive mobile marketing capabilities and Amazon-type of analytics tools to retailers empowering them to sell smarter and sell more.
On the consumer side, Savyu aims to bring more bang for your buck. Think of Savyu as a Universal Loyalty Program removing the burden of carrying dozens of loyalty cards from multiple retailers across multiple categories.
How does the app work for customers and retailers?
As a customer, you download the app, explore the list of Savyu's partnered retailers and visit them. At checkout, you will earn up to 50% rewards on the bill amount for your first transaction in Savyu Dollars (1 Savyu Dollars = 1 VND) which can be spent at the same location or any other partnered Savyu retailer.
As a partnered retailer, you will reward Savyu users every time they complete a transaction at your store which creates loyalty, drives future sales, and collects data about them helping you to get to know your customers better.
What problem does the product solve?
The three biggest problems we’ve identified with brick-and-mortar businesses are a lack of marketing, data and loyalty.
Marketing: Retailers have difficulty reaching customers on their mobile phones. Most retailers rely solely on Facebook which gets increasingly expensive, saturated and very difficult to track. Through Savyu, many retailers have already reached over 200,000 people. And that was only during our pilot!
Data: Most retailers have little customer data, which makes it difficult to reach out to them again. Through Savyu, many of our partnered retailers have already received hundreds of transactions from customers enabling Savyu to consolidate their data.
Loyalty: It costs about 5-10x more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one and just a 5% increase in customer retention can potentially increase a company's profitability by 25-95%! Savyu Dollars enable coalition marketing and cultivate platform loyalty. This network effect increases the velocity of transactions.
Will Thao Dien remain the focus for the time being?
We are expanding! Thao Dien was the perfect ground for testing our product market fit as there are many great retailers in a localized area. The Thao Dien pilot was massively successful with exciting early metrics. Even with just a few retailers and limited marketing during the several weeks of pilot, Savyu had:
- More than 2,500 transactions
- 1,4 billion VND of Gross Merchandise Value
- Over 35% of registered users made a transaction
- Over 45% of users with transactions made a repeat visit
Retailers were so happy that they invited Savyu to partner with them at their other locations. That brought added confidence to expand to the whole of Saigon. Since September we have started to add retailers in D1 and D3 and plan to expand to the whole city by the end of the year.
Do you think the days of loyalty cards as we know them are numbered?
There is still very little data on loyalty programs in Vietnam, but in the US we can observe that an average person holds around 15 loyalty cards. That leads to wastage and frustration particularly when customers don’t have their cards on them and lose their benefits or when their benefits expire because they can’t have enough transactions with the same retailers.
Another interesting find, 79% of Americans said they are more likely to join a loyalty program that requires them to download an app. Considering the fact that over 60% of Vietnam’s population are active mobile internet users, we are making loyalty and rewards super easy to earn, convenient and more rewarding.
Unlike many silo loyalty programs where retailers points are exchanged for preselected products or services, Savyu Dollar rewards can be redeemed to pay any retailers in the Savyu App with a conversion rate of 1 Savyu Dollars = 1 VND, bringing instant tangible benefits to our users.