Dunkin' Donuts, Shake Shack, Uber and other leading retailers recently joined a Visa Inc. initiative aimed at cross-promoting retail and hospitality brands to consumers. Visa Commerce Network, an interactive platform launched Jan. 29, 2016, enables merchants within Visa's electronic payment network to create online and in-app shopping experiences. Participating retail and hospitality brands can create joint promotions on the fly, according to Visa representatives.
Participating merchants can use VisaNet's library of commerce application programming interfaces (APIs) to connect transactions between two different Visa merchants. Qualifying purchases are identified at the POS and rewards are sent to Visa cardholder accounts, eliminating the need for consumers to carry coupons or reward cards.
In December 2015, Shake Shack and Uber offered discounted Uber rides to consumers who opted in to the campaign and paid using Visa at Shake Shack. The offer garnered new customers and increased spend for Shake Shack; Uber riders received rewards on their Visa cards. Laura Enoch, senior marketing manager of Shake Shack, said guests were able to participate in the promotion without changing their payment methods. "[All] of the rewards happened on the backend, it was a great activation without the need to train team members," she said.
Following the success of the Shake Shack promotion, Uber rolled out grocery store offers in 10 U.S. markets, offering discounted rides and automatically enrolling consumers in a nationwide contest for an all-expense paid trip to the Super Bowl Feb. 7. "We are always looking for new ways to delight our customers and offer unique local experiences," said David Richter, Uber's Vice President of Strategic Initiatives. "We're excited to partner with Visa on this initiative."
More than a dozen businesses have successfully used Visa Commerce Network, Visa stated, noting that publicity generated by short-term campaigns can sometimes outlast the actual promotions. "We continue to hear from guests that they are visiting Dunkin' Donuts even more as a result of the campaign we ran using Visa Commerce Network," said Sherrill Kaplan, Dunkin' Donuts Senior Director of Digital and Loyalty Marketing. "The ability to quickly activate an offer that provided real benefits to both current and prospective customers alike was a very exciting outcome for us."
Visa Commerce Network can trace its roots to TrialPay, a value exchange platform developer based in Palo Alto, Calif. Acquired by Visa in 2015, the company has 600 million users in 180 countries. TrialPay provides free items to consumers in exchange for their purchase or testing of product and service offerings from TrialPay advertisers. Visa enhanced TrialPay's platform and product offerings, adding API libraries, analytics and other features to augment rewards and loyalty at the POS. Consumers can earn rewards in real time at the POS or receive them as statement credits.
TrialPay noted that Visa Commerce Network is the first of its products to be launched by Visa; the company plans more near-term releases of products designed to help merchants attract and retain customers. "By exposing an API, we believe merchants can best build the consumer experience that makes sense for their customers," the company stated in a Jan. 29 blog post. "These offers drive value to merchants by providing consumer incentives to transact with Visa merchants in exchange for content or services offered by a publisher."
Visa and TrialPay view Visa Commerce Network as an important step forward in creating a seamless network of consumers, merchants and publishers that add value to each other on Visa's rails. Visa saw a need to build tools and services to help merchants grow their businesses, stated the TrialPay blog.
Ramon Martin, Global Head, Merchant Sales and Solutions at Visa also sees benefits for merchants, issuers and cardholders using the program. "Visa cardholders get access to great offers that don't require any changes to how they pay, while merchants can acquire new customers and increase sales," he said. "By coupling the power of Visa's payment network with our merchant partners, we are unleashing value for businesses, issuers and consumers alike." Visa said it tracks all transactional activity and promotions. The company also noted that the platform's extensive built-in analytic tools and the VisaNet parent network processes approximately 100 billion transactions per year.
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