We caught up with Quidco’s managing director, Andy Oldham, to get the lowdown on industry changes, German operations, online check-ins – and more.
Oldham, who has previously worked at ActivIdentity and PricewaterhouseCoopers, has been at Quidco for nearly four years, and is responsible for managing the UK cashback website and overseeing its growth,
Q: Since you started at Quidco, how has the cashback industry changed over this time?
AO: Cashback has become far more mainstream over the past 12 months, both in terms of consumers seeing the value of rewards that are on offer and retailers understanding how it can benefit their businesses.
Shoppers are growing increasingly savvy to the value that cashback can offer them against older, traditional points-based loyalty programmes. As this happens, retailers are becoming more au-fait with the potential that cashback incentives can drive in both customer loyalty and sales volumes.
Behind the scenes there’s been a tremendous amount of hard work done – both at Quidco and across the wider affiliate marketing sector, to move the industry into the mainstream. The value of consumer spend driven by this industry is now very significant and warrants the recognition it’s starting to receive, being viewed alongside the more traditional major marketing channels.
As the cashback industry has become more established, it has also evolved to be far more sophisticated, with considerable advances made in data and insight, campaign management, and the ability to deliver cohesive marketing programmes on and offline simultaneously.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge in this role?
AO: The challenges with managing a fast-paced tech company are the same the world over, and ultimately boil down to people.
Attracting and retaining talent is critical, and we’ve been lucky to build an incredibly loyal, committed team that is motivated to make Quidco an iconic British brand.
Q: From working at PricewaterhouseCoopers, delivering IT-led projects across internet banking and developing core security software, you have plenty of IT experience. How has this come in useful for your current role?
AO: Technology moves fast and, whilst the technology set we’re using today is a lot different to what I was previously used to, having a strong tech background has certainly been an advantage.
It gives me the ability to have in-depth discussions with our product and engineering teams about our roadmap, which means we can plan and execute more effectively in building the incredible loyalty platform we have today.
Having a strong financial services background has also been very relevant in my role at Quidco. At the end of the day, our business is integrated into the consumer’s shopping behaviour, so being conversant in the evolving payments landscape has helped us to move with the times, particularly as we grow the Quidco in-store programme through card linked offers.
Q: Does Quidco have further plans to venture out of the UK at all? What is the hold up?
AO: Well, actually we have, just under the radar. We have a site called Qipu in Germany that we started almost two years ago. It’s now the largest cashback site there, but the market is still very nascent.
Unlike many of our competitors, when it comes to strategic moves we make sure we do it in a sustainable way. We’ve had a team on the ground in Germany from day one, building a really solid foundation for the company and we are really excited about the future.
Q: In terms of turnover vs. profit, with a 100% cashback model, how do you plan on becoming more profitable, if at all?
AO: Ranking in the Top 100 of the Sunday Times Profit Track this year is testament to the fact that we have built a successful business in Quidco. However, whilst accolades like this are great to receive, we’ve always measured the success of the business in terms of the amount of cashback we generate for our members, and the value of the sales we drive for our retail partners.
Over the years we’ve demonstrated our ability to expand on our number of revenue streams, and we will continue to do this in the future. We have a large, active and loyal member base as well as both a wealth of transactional data and smart people managing the business, so I’m confident with where the business is heading.
Q: How successful have offline check-ins been and how are you planning to expand your offline activity, if at all?
AO: Mobile check-ins have been a really important driver of our mobile usage. When we launched paid for check-ins, we were the first company in the UK to do this, bringing a tangible reward to the existing concept of social check-ins.
The Quidco mobile app gives high street retailers the opportunity to encourage shoppers to come into their store, to tap into consumer shopping behaviour, and to present them with a personalised cashback offer that can be redeemed by using their standard payment card. Linking our in-store proposition with our smartphone app gives retailers the combination of media distribution platform, and closed-loop redemption mechanism they have been looking for in order to allow them to really understand the return of investment for offline advertising spend.
Creating this new intent-based advertising platform required us to educate consumers. Check-ins were fundamental to this, giving us a means to encourage the critical consumer behaviour of opening the app to explore what retail offers were around them.
Q: What exciting app developments, website advancements or business plans are on the cards?
AO: Personalisation has been a buzzword in our offices for quite some time. In the background we’ve spent over two years building the capability to run sophisticated promotional campaigns for our retailers that deliver personalised deals for our members. The ability to execute campaign management on a mass scale is what we’ve been doing for some time now, and the next few years will see us continue to scale the business at the double-digit rates we’ve been witnessing.
Rewarding shoppers offline through card-linked offers is growing at an incredible rate. In-store retailers demand different promotional mechanics and an alternative approach to campaign management in comparison to online. With well over a million cards, our offline programme is now substantial enough to be attracting more and more retailers onto the platform. So far this year we have grown our card-linked retailer base by 50%. Our focus is to develop a multichannel offering for retailers and we will deliver this through card-linked offers.
When we launched ClickSnap in November last year we were the first UK Company to offer cashback on your grocery shop. This will continue to be an incredibly interesting area for us and we’ll be spending more time, and effort scaling this product to bring on-board even more CPG partners with an ever-increasing array of deals on everyday purchases for our members.
Q: Are you happy with your market performance and position in the UK? What have this year’s major milestones been?
AO: Yes, I’m incredibly happy with our performance this year. We’ve strengthened our position as the UK’s largest cashback site and now have more than 3.5 million members, returning more cashback to our customer base than any other competitor.
Adding over one million members in a 12-month period (or one every 29 seconds) – more than we ever have in that time before - marked our fastest ever rate of company growth and underscored real progress in what we are trying to achieve at Quidco, which is all about developing an iconic British brand that members and merchants are proud to be a part of.
However, as a loyalty scheme, we’re even more proud of our ongoing member engagement activity, and invest a lot of time in finding more ways to give them what they want. On that note, another major milestone this year came in the form of offering tiered Quidco membership for the first time ever.
Historically we have always retained the first £5 of all members’ cashback. In launching Quidco Premium, shoppers who opt into this retention fee now receive an enhanced level of service, special offers, and a wide range of faster paying merchants. Alternatively, customers looking to use us on a more basic level can do so for entirely free. We are very proud of this launch, as it was something our members had been asking for.
April this year saw us formally launch Quidco ClickSnap, following six months of beta testing. The feedback from our brand partners has been tremendous, with more and more joining the programme. The launch of the ClickSnap app in June now makes this the most comprehensive grocery rewards tool around, offering a wide range of great value offers for shoppers making their purchases both online and in the supermarket.
Another one of our proudest moments from the past 12 months was becoming Amazon’s exclusive launch partner when they moved to offer cashback for the first time. The launch followed extensive pitching to the online retail giant about our credentials and member spending power. It was Amazon’s first foray into cashback and being the chosen partner was a real highlight for the company.
Finally - of course - it’s always nice to pick up awards, so being voted the UK’s number one cashback service for the second year in a row by Consumer Facts – as voted for by the public, was a real honour. The business accolades, including the Investec Hot 100, The Sunday Times Profit Track 100 and being shortlisted for the National Business of the Year and PwC Private Business of the Year are also validation that we’re building a really sustainable business in Quidco.
I’m thrilled with the progress we have made as a business over the past year, but we’re not a brand that rests on our laurels. The next 12 months is full of exciting activities, all working hard to keep building the world of cashback.