Given the number of cashback services in the market, it is a surprise most of our purchases aren’t paying us back more than what we spend. However, the stark reality is that it is a necessity to get consumers out and about spending money at retail.

The question that we have to ask is if it is actually working and how well is it doing?

To find out more about cashback and generally how SMEs in retail can stay competitive, we spoke to Singapore tech startup Aimazing who recently, officially launched their new cashback product after a successful run of their “lite” programme.

Launched in June 2020, the programme had over 400 local merchants, consisting of both independent and chain stores all around Singapore, such as Morganfields and Partea.

We speak to Shopback about their 2021 plans and how COVID impacted them

Where they are different than most, is that they have a simple plug-and-play solution that any merchant can easily incorporate into their existing POS. The folks at Aimazing want to help physical stores track their offline transaction data and run their own promotional campaigns. The solution’s in-built cashback loyalty program allows customers to return to the same store and benefit from cashback just by scanning a QR code — driving real footfall back into physical stores. 

CEO Jun Ting was king enough to share his thoughts on the issue and how they are working with the Singaporean SME and F&B community to give them a better chance to rebound.

Do you see the retail market bouncing back in Singapore and maybe the rest of Southeast Asia?

I think that the Singapore market is already bouncing back and will continue to see a surge in growth as more Singaporeans have their ‘travel fund’ normally used to go overseas, to spend in Singapore. As we’re all unable to travel overseas this year, many are resorting to offline experiences in the country and trying great food and experiences that many didn’t know existed in this little red dot.

As for the rest of Southeast Asia, hearing from our regional teams about the situation on the ground, we’re less optimistic about the offline retail space in those markets, with lockdowns and spikes in cases from the pandemic. However, we have also seen a number of F&B and Retail Merchants regionally that are already planning ahead and preparing for the openings of their offline stores and wanting to take this opportunity to build a base of loyal customers that still use delivery platforms to support them. 

Some of our merchants in Malaysia simply place the Aimazing Cashback QR receipt in the food plastic bags that get delivered to the customers. Customers are able to redeem all their cashback in-store after the market starts to open up, and merchants are able to collect their customer database remotely.

How does the product work? How can retailers expect it to entice return customers?

The Aimazing cashback solution is quite simple, to both the merchants and customers. It’s a plug-and-play device that connects to both the Point-of-Sale (POS) system and the receipt printer. The device then automatically prints a unique Cashback QR receipt after the regular receipt based on the transaction amount and the defined cashback percentage.  All the cashier has to do is pass this receipt to the customer and ask them to scan it.

Once the customer scans the receipt, they will be redirected to Facebook Messenger, where their cashback amount will be stored on the merchant’s Messenger chat. All they have to do to redeem it the next time they return is to click a button on the chat, and a QR code will be sent to them on the chat. They then present this QR code to the cashier and the cashback is claimed.

On the point of how it can entice return customers when evaluating the different options, points, stamps etc, we’ve found that Cashback is the most effective way to ensure that customers return to the store for more as it’s cash discounts. But it’s more effective than discounts as it’s only claimed when customers come back a second time. With Aimazing’s solution, customers receive automated cashback reminders directly as a push notification from the Merchant’s Facebook Messenger, this allows the customers to know that their cashback is expiring and drives engagement, reminding them to go back to the store to claim that cashback! We’ve seen that 38% of customers that receive the reminders will head back to the store for another purchase! Also, our merchants have achieved an average ROI of 10.2x for every $1 spent from the returning customers’ redemption of cashback.

When you say “SME retail owners don’t just want tools, they want results”, could you elaborate on that?

In Southeast Asia, we’ve come to realise that the vast majority of F&B and retail business owners are above the age of 40 years old. This is interesting because, unlike start-ups or businesses with younger founders, the majority of them are quite traditional and may not be as tech-savvy or familiar with digital tools that can help their business. 

As they pushed to adopt new digital solutions as the market and demand shifts, like anyone else, they might be reluctant to implement a solution that they are not very familiar with or don’t fully understand. They might also be less inclined to use a solution that requires a significant investment in onboarding time and an overhaul to their existing day-today-operations; that owners are already busy with.

At Aimazing, we strongly believe that a solution’s effectiveness and ability to add value is determined by the number of people the solution is able to impact. For us, one of the main development goals was to build a solution that was almost effortless to implement and seamless in execution. But most importantly, we believe that our solution had to be fast in bringing in results, in order for business owners to see results and quickly justify their investment.

This also has a side impact on their mindset towards digital solutions. As they see the results from these solutions, they would naturally be able to justify investing the time to explore and learn about them. At Aimazing, we believe that in this way, we’re able to impact the business owner community as a whole, not just with our solution.

What do you see as the biggest barrier to SMEs being able to utilise all these solutions available in the market?

I think that one of the largest barriers, as mentioned above, would have to do with the complexity of digital solutions in this day and age. Many tech companies love AI, big data and the fancy jargon that comes with it. However, we feel like this overcomplicates a lot of solutions to the merchants. We found that business owners don’t need an additional tool like a dashboard every day, what they need is something that can be easily implemented and that brings results.

Regardless of if the solutions are good or effective, if business owners don’t understand the solution, or if it’s too complicated to implement, it is simply not effective in practice as they can’t justify the investment of time, effort and money. What the market needs now are solutions that have low barriers to entry, and ones that bring results.

What’s next for Aimazing?

Moving forward, Aimazing will continue to support and focus on the SME market segment, particularly F&B and Retail merchants. We are also in talks and always on the lookout for partners that can join us in the journey to providing even more value to SME business owners that want to explore digital solutions for their businesses. We will continue to help businesses recover from this pandemic not just in Singapore but also in Southeast Asia and beyond, striving to transform their mindset towards digital solutions in the process.