Being a consumer, we all feel the loyalty programs are nothing but useless point collecting fancy cards, which most of the time doesn’t make sense because, you are expected to purchase again from the same store and not only that, many a times it happens you want to buy a product X but the store says the points only benefit if you purchase product Y, how sick is that?
Now, cutting the gimmick and not letting you go back or get stuck on to just one particular store Nukul Upadhye and Nikita Mokhariwale initiated Againn.in.
Againn, a creative coalition of loyalty programs that truly ensures none of your cute cards and points go wasted, and for the entrepreneurs – your business is opened up to get traffic from sources you may have not even thought about.
Just watch this little video below and we’ll get into conversation and quiz Nukul, the Founder on Againn, E-commerce and Entrepreneurship.
Tell us the story behind Startup.
Our first start up was a marketing consulting firm called Opinions.h, which we started in our second year at BITS, Pilani, in 2008. It was around the time when the idea of online marketing was setting in. We worked with startups including Zomato (then Foodiebay) and Buytheprice. It became apparent to us that prime challenge of any e-commerce company was not to reach their customers, but to retain them. So we focused on developing strategies for making the customers stick. In our Opinions.h days, one of our core services was to design customer retention strategy for the clients. Soon we realized that it was more meaningful to integrate the individual loyalty programs of all our clients than run them individually. That is when we started exploring the option of turning this into a business model in July 2012. After studying some of the competitors like Payback, we gained confidence and actualized our idea, and hence Againn was born in Nov 2012.
Using your online loyalty program, a merchant is driving his sales loyalty to somewhere else. Why should a merchant opt in for this program? Did you face any resistance while convincing merchants to sign up, and what did you do about it?
The whole is greater than sum of its parts
Againn program is not about retaining an end user to just one merchant but to pool the resources (acquisition and retention) of all the merchants to together have a greater percentage of user’s wallet.
The program focuses on enabling merchants to provide added value to their end user with each transaction and thus driving repeat buying behavior instead of just relying on reward points to draw users back.
Traditionally stand-alone loyalty programs have been experimented a lot with and have shown drastically low rates of redemptions, globally. Failure of stand-alone loyalty programs compared to the exceptional 80% rate of redemption in Againn for last 9 months makes a strong case for Againn.
The redemption and earning processes provide value and drive loyalty individually and independently.
Yes, this question comes from the merchant side invariably, but after going through the intricate details of how much a merchant actually ends up paying in all possible scenarios clears their doubts.
Please tell us about the registered merchants and users signed up so far. How is the response to the Againn platform? What is the biggest feedback you’ve received so far?
Currently we have 16 merchant partners on board and have 8 others in the pipeline. We are trying to add at least one merchant from each category such as Travel, Fashion, Grocery, and Electronics etc. We are seeing a 100% month-on-month growth in terms of registered users. Majority of our users are from tier-1 cities in age group of 20-30 years.
The response so far has been really encouraging and some of our merchants are moving from providing Againn as an optional feature to integrating it with the overall user experience and making the program non-optional for their users. Since the platform is extremely robust and very easy to integrate, we have seen very little reluctance from merchants to get on-board; this is also because of the fact that we charge only for the additional sale generated by Againn.
Since the whole process is extremely simple and hassle-free it is welcomed by the users too.
Merchants: Merchants want to improve the overall experience of their most valuable customer. This requires a loyalty program to take into account multiple parameters such as user references, data insights and social features.
We have incorporated some of them in our program and working on the rest.
Users: Users demand more options and hence more merchants in the program while keeping the simplicity intact.
How does Againn make money? Please take us through your business & revenue model.
Againn gets into a revenue-sharing model with merchants, wherein we charge a small percentage of transaction amount done through Againn. The charges differ substantially between earn and redemption cycles and are also based on the industry segment of the merchant partner.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
We believe that as a startup you have to be extremely flexible and evolve on a daily basis.
We take every feedback seriously and brainstorm to see how the recommendation can be incorporated.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Mailchimp – for our email campaigns.
Gotomeeting – for late night collaborations/ brainstorming.
Exotel – for managing our sms campaigns.
What we love about them: The same thing which we love about Againn – they are simple and effective 🙂
Tell us about the founding team.
Againn founding team comprises of graduates from IIT Guwahati, NIT Surathkal and BITS-Pilani.
Nukul heads the marketing efforts and has worked in marketing consultancy and investment banking teams of fortune 50 companies.
Nikita takes care of data analytics and has worked for global retail brands to generate actionable insights using sales data.
Avijit and Kanica manage the tech side and have experience in data security and web technologies respectively. Prior to Againn they were working for MNCs in their respective fields.
What is the one trend in e-commerce that excites you, and how do you see the future of loyalty programs in India?
So far all the discussions have been around how the increasing number of online buyers is going to shape up the ecommerce industry, but we believe that more than anything else, the fact that every offline store around you will start selling its products online is going to drastically change the ecommerce space. In short, the boom will come from supply side rather than the demand side.
With every merchant getting online and trying to ride the wave, the competition in the space is going to be fierce. Since everyone is trying to sell the best product, at the best price, with time, most of the offerings would become standard and it will become difficult to differentiate oneself. At that stage, providing a better experience and delighting your most loyal customers is going to become the highest priority.
Please tell us the future plans of Againn.
After establishing ourselves in online space, we will quickly move on to providing the program to offline merchants. Though we already have the technology to do that, we are taking one step at a time.
Being a Student Startup, what are the things you suggest students starting out while in college should keep in mind?
Be fast in executing ideas –don’t wait for THE perfect idea – execute whatever you have. But don’t show similar impatience while analyzing the results. Not every idea reaps/harvests overnight.
Describe Entrepreneurship in two words.
Pace & Passion.
Our Take on Againn.in
Againn is not just another startup its a real growth hacker benefiting the end cosnumer and entrepreneur both. A disruptive startup to watch out for and we might catch them again to learn more about their creative steps and their entrepreneur journey.