Wigan+ Loyalty Smartcard
Wigan+ operates a smartcard system that rewards members for shopping locally. In early 2012 they had roughly 5,000 members and offer reduced prices on standard retail products, including car parking. Their next phase is even more exciting.
They are about to begin rewarding members for community activity. This is how it will work: Each hour of time a member contributes to a participating organisation earns 1000 'Plus Points'. It's like Air Miles, but you earn your points by volunteering. These points can be exchanged for concessions in local shops or at sports grounds for spare capacity (such as seats at a rugby match) or surplus stock. The advantage for the business is that they sell spare capacity or stock at reduced cost without having to advertise huge discounts - the concessions go to people who have earned them through community activity. The points can then be traded in for business rate discounts or recycled into local communities to reward further volunteering as part of the firm's CSR or community engagement strategy. The advantage for the volunteer is that they earn cashable rewards that do not affect their tax or benefit position. By cashing them in they support local businesses - by bringing extra footfall into the town centre, improving the atmosphere at a football match, or using produce that would otherwise be wasted or would require heavy discounting. People can scan their cards at PlusPoint machines and receive printed vouchers showing the concessions they have earned. Concessions can be personalised to members' tastes and interests.
There is a particular need to connect those who are most excluded from the labour market, education and social interaction with opportunities that will expand their horizons and offer them a chance of connecting with wider society. Concessionary travel, earned through voluntary activity, can help bridge this gap. Corporate sponsors and public funders can purchase blocks of concessionary travel entitlements that can be accessed by individuals using PlusPoints. We know volunteering and community activity helps grow people's confidence, self-esteem, social skills and employability. Not only can it reduce the pressure on public services by helping people get into work - it can also reduce the cost of helping the needy and vulnerable by rewarding friends and neighbours who provide care in the community. Wigan is exploring how rewards for volunteering can be accessed and spent using smartcard technology to achieve some of the outcomes that have so far frustrated policymakers and politicians. To get there they have established a need to:
- Work with community organisations and networks to log voluntary activity
- Work with public services and businesses to offer rewards people will want
- Work with public services to align budgets and spending priorities to facilitate a culture of earned rewards
- Work with business to support the rewards system through their CSR budgets
For more information visit the website of Wigan+.