It is no secret that Loyalzoo – our loyalty app for local shops – came about as a result of our own interests. We enjoy to shop local in our neighbourhood, and want to help these shops grow and compete against the big brands. The papers are always reporting that local businesses are closing, so shopping in them is vital to keep them, and our neighbourhoods, alive.

So what’s the problem with big brands? Well – nothing, really. Many of them offer a good range of decent quality products, their opening hours are convenient and there is usually parking on the premises. Many offer wifi in store, low prices and central locations.

So far so good. But one thing they lack is excitement and interest in themselves and their products. You will never get an employee in a global chain enthusiastically talking about where their latest product came from and why they decided to stock it. Or talk about how their latest flavour came about – as a result of their best friends’ idea and their uncle’s abundant apple-tree.

Local shops have their limitations, sure. Their opening hours aren’t always as long as we would have liked them to be, the parking may be limited. But the variety of products and the stories behind them makes it a far more interesting place than any chain shop will ever be. You can tell by talking to the staff and the atmosphere inside. If it’s a cafe – is it an in-out feel, or are people sitting down with a friend or two, chatting away and enjoying themselves? If it’s a food shop or bakery, are the people in the queue mostly huffing and puffing in stress, or are they waiting patiently? Maybe we are just very lucky – but our experience in local shops is predominantly a much more relaxed matter than that in the big shops.

We still use the big brands, of course we do. Sometimes the convenience is unbeatable. But every time, whilst we queue up in another seething line full of people cursing and oozing passive aggressiveness because it is rush hour and they are all hangry and angry at the cashier not working fast enough, we think we could have – should have – gone to the  local instead. It would have been more expensive, taken longer and finding parking would have been a pain – but being in the shop would have made us relax and lower our shoulders.

Not every local shop is like this – but many are. And none of the big ones are. So we shop local when we can and we urge you to do the same.

Anyone living near a high street or remotely interested in tech will have noticed the new wave of shop-apps. Apps that let you pay without cash or a bank card. They’ve been around for a while – best known is perhaps Starbucks’ own app. Now it seems other businesses are clocking on – thinking tech is the way to go to be able to compete for customers in an increasingly dense and overwhelming market. Read more

It can be hard to keep up with the fast pace of modern technology. We’ll bet there are even some of you out there who don’t know about the handy mobile loyalty apps that make all your old reward and loyalty cards obsolete.

You just download the app to your smart phone and you can find out exactly what your local retailers have on offer, all from the convenience of your phone.

In case that’s news to you, we’re doing our part to educate the masses with our list of the top five things you didn’t know about loyalty apps. Even if you do know all about them, we’re sure there’ll be one or two gems in here that will surprise you. Read more

The latest IBM ‘5 in 5’ report – top five innovations in the next five years – has an astonishing second prediction: in 5 years, buying local will beat online. This prediction seems to confound the accepted wisdom about the decline of local shopping. But IBM has a habit of getting it right: that’s why its ‘5 in 5’ report is so eagerly awaited each year by futurologists. They may well be right on this one too.

Global online sales in 2012 topped $1tr as more and more people are drawn to the convenience of sedentary shopping. IBM however believes that this growth trend has now peaked. The main reason is that the latest technical innovations – the rise of cognitive computing, combined with Big Data – can be exploited very easily by small, physical shops, and that shoppers will find the level of service far superior to shopping online. Plus, they won’t have to wait two days or more for delivery. Read more

What is loyalty anyway? The word loyal entered the English language in the 16th century. It originally meant faithfulness or allegiance to the monarch. Like most words its meaning has gradually inflated to cover any sort of preferential attachment to a person or thing. Our ancestors would have been surprised to discover that we would use the word in connection with a shop or business. But that’s where we are. Read more