Interview: Emma Smith, CEO of Memberoo

Memberoo is bringing a new kind of loyalty to Cardiff, rewarding consumers for their continued engagement with their favourite city hangouts and services.

Launched in June, it’s a loyalty and marketing platform that helps to drive customer engagement in small to mediums sized businesses. We recently caught up with company CEO Emma Smith.

TD: How does your app work? 

ES: The app works by helping store better understand how their customers are shopping and engaging with them in store, thereby allowing them to encourage customers to shop more frequently and spend more money.

Our aim is to help businesses better personalise their marketing and targeting of their promotions, much the same way Tesco started doing in the 1990’s. Though for a much smaller budget.

TD: Why did you set the business up?

ES: I used to work in the public sector, and my main goal back then was to incentivise people to use public services more such as recycling more and using the library more etc.

During this time, I saw there was a real opportunity for high street businesses to use the same ideas and philosophies to better engage their customers. I also thought these ideas could help them understand the data they’ve got, and make it more useful and profitable for the business going forward.

TD: What problem is it solving?

ES: Memberoo addresses a frequent problem for businesses, which is they don’t always know how to retain their customers, especially in highly competitive market places.

Many businesses will normally default to just finding new customers, when in fact if they focused on retaining customers they would be far more likely to see an increase in their profits.

TD: What makes your business unique?

ES: I think the fact that we are a data scientist in your pocket. There are currently a lot of loyalty card startups out there working on digitising the loyalty process.

But we believe that unless you actually do something with the data to make your business more profitable then there isn’t much point in having any kind of loyalty card, digital or not. We’re all about the data, and making sure that people who don’t have a P.H.D in data science can understand it and use it. 

TD: How does the platform work? 

ES: For the customer, it’s a smartphone app where they collect points every time they visit a business, and when they’ve got enough points they can unlock premium rewards.

For the businesses it’s a SaaS (Software as a Service) that takes in all the data from the reward club, processes it, analyses it and makes suggestions about what they should be doing to grow their club, retain members etc.

So depending on what’s happening in their reward club, we’ll make different suggestions to carry out different types of marketing campaigns.

TD: What’s been your biggest success, and biggest obstacle?

ES: It’s funny really… the bigger businesses we talk to want to invest in having their own branded apps, and customers are telling us that they don’t want loads of individual businesses apps on their phone! So encouraging these businesses to work together in one app rather than their own is quite a challenge.

Our biggest success is definitely seeing it working for businesses, seeing them improve their customer engagement, retention, and profits through using our application.

TD: Where do you see your business in 5 years’ time?

ES: We have to move with the times and the technology. Things are moving very quickly in the world of apps, so we are doing some really exciting R&D around trying to create new and better ways to engage customers, including some that don’t necessarily require apps. So in five years, I think we will be doing the same thing, but in much more exciting and innovative ways.

TD: What do you think of Welsh tech?

I think it’s a really exciting time. The tech scene in Wales is growing, and I’ve seen some really interesting start-ups coming out of it and refreshingly. They’re not just from Cardiff but are establishing themselves all over Wales, which is really exciting. It’s great to be a part of it.

TD: Do you have any advice for budding entrepreneurs?

ES: Get yourself a mentor, it’s the best thing we’ve ever done. Other advice would be try to listen to everybody. You can’t take everybody’s advice all the time though, so after you’ve listened to the advice, be sure to reflect on it. You can then take the most relevant bits – remember that they don’t know everything that you know.