Engaging members is a key element to building wallet share. Wings Financial Credit Union ($7.9B, Apple Valley, MN) has made that point 10 million times in less than a month. That’s how many points members redeemed in the first weeks after the big Twin Cities cooperative launched its Shop with Points rewards program with Amazon.com.
Shop with Points is what it sounds like: Consumers can use their credit card reward points to shop for any of the more than 12 million products Amazon sells on its site, which now accounts for more than half of all e-commerce sales in the United States.
Mike Sahr says his shop is the first credit union to offer the program. Here, he shares the details from his perspective as Wings’ vice president of payment systems.
How does the program work on the front end?
Mike Sahr: Members enroll their eligible Wings cards directly on the Wings Member Rewards page on Amazon.com. Once enrolled, members see an option to use points with every Amazon purchase they make. Amazon presents the points and equivalent dollar value in the checkout process, and members choose how many points to use. They can pay for the entire purchase with points, a portion of the purchase, or use no points at all. It’s very simple.
What’s involved on the back end?
MS: We’re connected to Amazon through our loyalty partner, Engage People. When an enrolled member makes a purchase, Amazon checks with Wings to authenticate the card number and receive the point balance. This is all completed in less than a second via an integration Engage People has with Wings and Amazon. All we had to do was create an API integration that has millisecond response times to meet Amazon standards.
When did you get involved with this program and why?
MS: Engage People introduced the program about a year ago, and we immediately expressed interest. We launched on Oct. 25 as the first credit union to offer Amazon Shop with Points. Other large bank credit card programs also offer this service.
How does Shop with Points fit into Wings’ existing rewards program?
MS: This offering is part of the Wings Member Rewards program that allows members to earn points for credit card purchases, debit card purchases, and other promotional earning opportunities. Regardless of how members earn points, points are combined into a single point bank that can be used directly at Amazon.com or at our reward center for travel, gift cards, merchandise, or other Wings products.
What is the value proposition here for the member?
MS: The biggest challenge this program addresses is the usefulness and value of points. That challenge applies to all point programs. Amazon Shop with Points allows our members to use their Wings rewards points for virtually anything available through Amazon.com. It adds tremendous value to the Wings Member Rewards program.
What about for the credit union?
MS: We believe Amazon Shop with Points will make our credit cards more attractive and easier to sell. We do about a billion dollars a year in credit card sales. Although it’s too soon to know, we think this will be an attractive feature on our credit cards. As for the costs, it’s about the same as for our redemption programs.
How do you market the program?
MS: We first communicated with our eligible members and created a good marketing presence in our branches and on our website. We now plan to do a robust branch and direct marketing program at the beginning of the year.
Is this a holiday promotion or is it going to continue year-round?
MS: Definitely permanent. As long as Amazon is where people shop, we think this program provides tremendous value to our rewards offerings.