PROFILE

Bill Hanifin

CEO, Hanifin Loyalty LLC

Bill Hanifin brings over 25 years experience encompassing customer centric marketing, payment systems, and corporate banking to benefit the clients he serves. Bill has concentrated on developing and implementing Customer Strategies designed to address a range of business objectives from account acquisition and sales performance to improved customer retention and increased share of wallet and brand preference.

Bill has worked with companies in the airline, banking, hotel, retail, telecom, and business services sectors providing a range of services including Strategic Marketing Plans, Project Management, Financial Measurement, and Operational Solutions. A partial Client list includes American Express, BBVA Bancomer, Banco BHD, FirstCaribbean Int’l Bank, Grupo Posadas (largest hotel chain in Mexico), JM Associates Federal Credit Union, LaQuinta Inns, Scotiabank, Visa, and VitaCost.com.

Bill is a Founding Member of the Customer Strategy Network, a global network of independent relationship and loyalty marketing practitioners. He authors Loyalty Truth, a blog covering all aspects of Customer Centric marketing, and serves as North American Contributing Editor for The Wise Marketer, a global publication covering the loyalty marketing industry.

Bill is an accomplished speaker and trainer and is a requested presenter at industry trade conferences sponsored by Airline Information, SourceMedia, the Direct Marketing Association, Visa, Loyalty 360, and the Institute for International Research. He has led public and privately organized workshops in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, EU, and Asia Pacific regions.

Bill is a prolific writer on the subjects of Millennial, Loyalty, and Relationship marketing. In addition to his blog Loyalty Truth, his articles and quotes have been published in American Banker, Colloquy, Cards & Payments, Card Technology, Bankstocks.com, DM News, Fox News.net, Smart Money, and MSNBC.com.

  • VIEW ARTICLES
  • VIEW COMMENTS
  • Posted on: 11/21/2018

    Will loyalty programs drive market share gains for Lyft or Uber?

    Uber launched its program in a year where it has been faced with a healthy share of challenges to its brand. As early as last year, Uber began exhibiting loss of market share and declining passenger utilization to blossoming competitors. Lyft continues to gain momentum and as mentioned, will launch Lyft Rewards in December. The core of the program borrows from time-tested (but maybe tired?) structures; points awarded for customer use of Uber’s core services (its ride-share operations and its food delivery service, UberEATS), and a multi-tiered status hierarchy formatted from a basic membership to elite. The risk in the structure adopted by Uber is the complexity of the point earning rules. There’s one clever benefit that Uber Rewards hopes to leverage to drive enrollment; the program gives credit retroactively for the customer’s last six months of Uber activity, accelerating the customer’s path to a reward. Beyond that, it seems Uber may have missed a bigger opportunity to focus customer marketing from the perspective of the "in car" experience. Including drivers into the program would also have been a big plus and I don't think they built in any incentives for drivers to improve service and make Uber the "only ride-share service to call."
  • Posted on: 10/03/2018

    Will the Kroger/Walgreens pilot lead to something really big?

    As pointed out by other panelists, the two brands may not have chosen an ideal test market. The advantages of the partnership are highlighted when there is sufficient distance between locations. Only then does the stocking of some Kroger items and delivery from online shopping in Walgreens stores represent a true convenience for customers. The longer play for Walgreens would be to become the pharmacy inside of all Kroger stores, but what is the incentive for Kroger to give away its pharmacy business? Insurers are increasingly influencing consumer choice of pharmacy. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield in Florida designated Walgreens as its only pharmacy, meaning policyholders can no longer use CVS to fill prescriptions. The result: choice in pharmacy is eliminated. Kroger could drive store traffic by aligning with the insurer-designated pharmacy in large markets.
  • Posted on: 10/02/2018

    Why do retailers practically ignore existing customers to go after new ones?

    There is no excuse for brick-and-mortar retailers failing to take steps to identify their customers. Unless of course they do not care about unique customer identification or lack the willpower or resources to put a solution into place. For that reason alone, I would not say that online retailers have a significant advantage in this area. I've seen specialty retailers who are not ready or are not interested in a formalized "loyalty program" take an alternate step to request an email address from customers at the time of checkout. Using this basic tactic the door is cracked open to begin to know the customer, and some tracking can begin to see what categories are purchased, track frequency of visit and the other metrics mentioned in the article. When under pressure, we humans tend to revert to familiar paths and methods that seem "easy" to execute. No one can argue the fact that retailers are under pressure and it seems the response by many is to revert to promotional approaches which focus on customer acquisition and price-related promotions. There is definitely a better way, and not all of the related solutions are expensive or complicated to implement.
  • Posted on: 08/30/2018

    Is Amazon a major threat to Trader Joe’s?

    The nuanced value propositions of competing grocers means that many families split their overall grocery basket among 3 or more grocery options. There are differences between Trader Joe's and Whole Foods that are fundamental and therefore I would not overplay survey results to conclude that Whole Foods is winning against Trader Joe's. The bigger win for Whole Foods will be when it begins to steal market share from customers who still do most of their shopping at regional favorites, Publix, Harris Teeter, Wegmans, etc. This probably is the higher goal for Amazon via its acquisition of the Whole Foods chain, but it is not happening yet. In my view, Whole Foods is at risk today by over-promoting the 10 percent discount for Prime members. Though the article states "Prime perks at Whole Foods include 10 percent discounts on all products" my experience is that discounts are offered only on selected and marked products. In a recent visit to test the value of this discount, I found very few items carrying the discount and was disappointed at the difference in the reality of the shopping experience and the hype with which it was promoted.
  • Posted on: 08/14/2018

    ‘Less is more’ when competing with Amazon

    Retailers have a unique set of assets to muster in defense of their turf against what some see as a hopeless battle with Amazon, Walmart, Alibaba. The key is to not try to offer everything to everyone, but to focus, specialize, and go deep in areas they know very well. At the recent WPP Global Retail Forum, I heard someone describe the new retail as flourishing at the "crossroads of hospitality, leisure, and shopping. Think about physical stores as "test beds," "idea pads," "meet-ups," "venues," even an oasis of enjoyment in a very busy world, and you might see where retail can prosper. There are smaller e-tailers, Hammer Nutrition is one that comes to mind, that lead with product knowledge. They educate and inform and in the process build confidence in the products they sell. Endurance athletes trust the Hammer brand as result of this process and might even pay a premium for products in recognition of the knowledge shared. I believe the more Amazon expands (especially into new categories), the more likely consumers will seek specialty providers of the products and services that most closely align with their brand identity.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2018

    Is your culture your brand?

    I agree with the general direction of Ms. Lee Yohn's list but find it puzzling that she chose "Use your organizational design and your operational processes to cultivate your cultural priorities" as the leadoff item. What is organizational design? Sounds much too generic and open to interpretation. Operational processes are generally absent human emotion or other elements that contribute to building culture. I notice that "sweat the small stuff" was the top vote-getter in the poll. It was my choice too. The reason this is important is that there must be consistency in what is said at the top of the organization and what actually takes place in daily work life. Leadership from the top sets the tone and it is the behavior of top executives that is carefully observed by employees. The consistency of behavior of our leaders generates more alliance and support of the culture being nurtured.
  • Posted on: 07/10/2018

    Amazon lowballs CVS and Walgreens on OTC med prices

    Amazon does bring value to the general consumer population by pushing imcumbent brands like Walgreens and CVS to sharpen their pencil and lower prices as needed. Amazon has a unique ability to cast transparency into the market, and the ensuing competition is good for consumers. That said, there is much more value to brick-and-mortar pharmacy than just picking up and Rx. About 85 percent of prescriptions filled are related to refills. For the balance of 15 percent, people are likely to have a more immediate need for the drugs and therefore place value on a visit to a local store. Thinking about the other items sold in a pharmacy, the value of a neighborhood store should remain strong for consumers for the foreseeable future.
  • Posted on: 07/10/2018

    Will lockers transform Home Depot’s BOPIS operations?

    The Home Depot locker strategy makes sense for the DIY chain, but also should become a standard for many other retailers. The locker meets the need to satisfy a well-documented customer use case, therefore is a worthwhile investment. While the strategy makes sense for many retailers, how the final steps of delivery are implemented should be customized for each retailer. For some, lockers are the answer. For others, a personal touch where an associate has quick access to the item and can bring added value to the delivery might work better. My only regret about the topic is now we have yet another acronym to add to our marketing vocabulary (small joke).
  • Posted on: 07/06/2018

    Urban Outfitters buys into installment payment plan

    Any advantage for a retailer to break through the noise of a highly competitive market and gain an advantage is worth a try. I'm a little disappointed that a trend could develop where consumers are encouraged to finance lower ticket items (clothes) that most financial advisors would recommend are purchased through cash saved and on hand. From a customer experience point-of-view, the long-term impact on the etailers using the system will be formed by the level of delinquency that develops and the feedback in social channels about late fees and collection processes.
  • Posted on: 06/22/2018

    Apple’s Ahrendts sees a ‘bigger purpose than just selling’ for retail

    The role of the retail store must continue to evolve and focus on sharing information, educating on the products and services sold, and providing service and support. Humans still have a need for face-to-face interaction with others and the ability to touch, feel, trial, query, and get support builds confidence in a particular product. That confidence translates into multiple purchases over time and higher brand loyalty. Apple is correct to adapt their hiring practices to focus on those who can deliver on a personal level and communicate care and empathy. Let's not forget however that anytime we use Apple, Amazon, Walmart or Starbucks as an example for others to follow, that these are power brands with far more resources and brand magnetism than is available to most retailers. The tricky part of these conversations is not whether Apple is doing it right, they are, but what part of their execution can be adopted by other retailers with a smaller resource pool and more mundane brand presence.
  • Posted on: 06/22/2018

    Supreme Court rules e-tailers must collect state sales taxes

    Disruption and disintermediation are the goals of many entrepreneurs. More power to anyone who can shift a model and discover a competitive edge. At the same time, there has to be a boundary of fair play in the marketplace. Requiring online retailers to collect sales tax as promulgated by this decision restores a fair boundary for all retailers. Now, let the competition begin again. With this obstacle taken off the table, will we see offline retailers be able to take advantage and reverse their fortunes in any way?
  • Posted on: 05/23/2018

    Best Buy’s Geek Squad is now available by subscription

    Total Tech Support should prove to be an effective tactic to create and maintain a higher level of engagement with customers of Best Buy. While cries of the Retail Apocalypse abound, retailers are scratching their heads about how to leverage their sunk investment in real estate. Being a showroom for Amazon is not going to be enough, and there needs to be an expansion of reasons "why" customers take time to walk into store locations. A subscription service with ties to the stores themselves is a worthy attempt to leverage the physical locations at Best Buy and to create higher engagement with customers. On first sight, I thought the price point of the subscription was high, but in consideration of hourly rates for local computer repair stores, $199 is more than reasonable for an annual bundle of time and service.
  • Posted on: 05/21/2018

    Will greater transparency drive a digital targeting backlash?

    When trying to understand how consumers will react to a change in the level of transparency used by advertisers, or changes to the techniques being used to deliver ads online, I struggle as consumers themselves don't behave consistently in how they give up their data to various parties online. Let me explain. Consumers sign EULA for software they purchase as well as use SSO to create accounts at e-commerce sites using their Google, Facebook or Twitter account information. It is safe to say that few of the EULA's are read and that few consumers understand what they are giving away through their use of SSO. Over 4 million people have sent their DNA to Ancestry.com through the mail to an unknown place where "someone" analyzes their family origins and returns a report. These examples tell us that consumers will release more information than they realize they are sharing and do so without prejudice if they think they are receiving a worthwhile benefit. The standards consumers use to evaluate the use of their online behaviour by marketers for retargeting seems to be higher and more precise. There is also GDPR to consider. I would disclose more and take the high road. At the end of the day, retailers are not going to win by tricking consumers into making purchases. Their products and services have to carry weight on their own.
  • Posted on: 01/04/2018

    Consumers want their digital promos and print circulars, too

    The pivotal comment in the article for me was this: "Overall, the survey found that almost half of U.S. households engage with at least eight different print and digital sources of information about products and sales." Turns out that of all the marketing buzzword nonsense that is proliferated in the marketplace, "omnichannel" is one that has substance. The rise of email did not spell the death of print and catalogs. The rise of social did not spell the death of email. And now, it seems clear the rise of the mobile device as the principal entry point for consumers to learn about a brand and its products will not mute the effectiveness of other existing channels. Using multiple channels to gain maximum coverage of a customer group is wise. Smart use of the data collected through promotional campaigns, blogs, clubs and loyalty programs is the basis to understand how to match customers with their preferred channels.
  • Posted on: 01/03/2018

    Should Amazon have Target in its acquisition sights?

    The most innovative move that Amazon can make is to avoid the predictable one of acquiring brick and mortar chains to expand its business footprint. Amazon has built its business on removing friction and cost from retail commerce. If their next move is to continue acquisition efforts in bricks and mortar (post Whole Foods), does this mean that they have exhausted their opportunities to disintermediate or innovate in the digital channel? Continued partnership efforts with retails already invested in brick and mortar might be a better step while Amazon fortifies itself with Whole Foods.

Contact Bill

  • Apply to be a BrainTrust Panelist

  • Please briefly describe your qualifications — specifically, your expertise and experience in the retail industry.
  • By submitting this form, I give you permission to forward my contact information to designated members of the RetailWire staff.

    See RetailWire's privacy policy for more information about what data we collect and how it is used.