PROFILE

Chuck Ehredt

CEO, Currency Alliance

Charles (Chuck) Ehredt is a seasoned entrepreneur and problem solver who built a career on turning business challenges into opportunities by aligning people with the right technologies. Now the CEO and co-founder of Currency Alliance, Chuck oversees a new way for international brands to collaborate through loyalty initiatives, so they can affordably capture a spectrum of customer insights that ensure better personalization and maximum lifetime value. As a serial entrepreneur, Chuck has launched 12 companies across multiple sectors and has helped fund 23 as an angel investor.

Chuck has also invested in 23 companies as a business angel investor and remains active as a mentor and coach for early stage companies or mature businesses trying to find their new product-market fit.

More information can be found at www.currencyalliance.com or linkedin.com/in/charles-ehredt

Serial entrepreneur at the convergence of FinTech and Marketing.
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  • Posted on: 01/18/2023

    Are retail communications out of sync with consumers?

    Retailers are absolutely out of sync with the majority of their customers -- no matter how many messages they send (if they send the same basic messages to everyone). Customers have all types of preferences for brand engagement and companies need to ask the customer what is relevant and how often they would like updates. Retailers should also be measuring how various segments of their customers respond to different types of messaging/frequency -- so they can compare actual behavior with what customers are saying, and then find the optimal cadence. Because I'm involved in innovation, I sign up for just about everything, but 99.9% of the time the companies never figure out that people I know call me Chuck (rather than Charles). And because I have lived outside the USA for most of the past 20 years, I do a lot of shopping during 2-3 trips back to the US, but zero in between, so weekly in-store offers are completely irrelevant. AI can help with this mis-match, but organizations need senior executive champions and executional prowess to get their communications plans in line with how customers want to engage. This is such a big problem, yet brands just keep pumping out irrelevant content -- burning a great deal of potential lifetime value in their customer base.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2023

    Will Best Buy customers be okay with its rewards program changes?

    These changes are short-sighted and will only drive a modest degree of incremental revenue for a smaller segment of customers. Most customers already have four credit cards and are not going to bother with a Best Buy card just to save a few percent on maybe hundreds of dollars per year in purchases. Best Buy has had a good business for many years because they helped make complex technology accessible to the mass market. They need to build on that legacy and not double down on a niche of customers.
  • Posted on: 08/25/2022

    Walmart+ members get a rewarding new perk

    These are good additional benefits, but I wonder how many people can justify (i.e., afford) participating in two similar programs. In any case, Walmart+ needs to stand on its own, and if I did not routinely use Amazon, I could justify the fee for the benefits already offered. Mr. Cracchiolo is a great loyalty professional, but it is still early in his tenure at Walmart. I believe he will find the ways to really differentiate the Walmart+ program, so watching the evolution will be interesting for most marketing professionals. Where I think Walmart could have an edge is in collaborating with more complementary retailers - that are also relevant to Walmart customers - allowing them to earn merchant funded offers and other benefits from a larger ecosystem, and leveraging Walmart's delivery capabilities to help customers save time shopping in a larger ecosystem.
  • Posted on: 08/23/2022

    Is Tractor Supply barking up the right tree with its new Neighbor’s Club rewards?

    Tractor Supply has built trust and loyalty with a very large customer base over an extended period of time, so linking Petsense extends the value proposition and enables customers to reach rewards faster. This is a smart move that will pay immediate dividends. For 90 percent of loyalty programs, I could poke holes in their look-alike loyalty program design, but for Tractor Supply, they clearly know their audience and make the program simple and valuable for participants. Of course other brands need to get their culture right before they can earn the respect that Tractor Supply enjoys.
  • Posted on: 08/09/2022

    Instacart offers tiered rewards to gig workers

    Tier-based loyalty programs work in most environments because they define clear goals to reach additional benefits. For workers (shoppers), once they start receiving benefits, then the ability to leave those benefits behind becomes something they will think about the next time they have a tough day. Of course, the benefits need to be reachable and useful, but as we can see in the list above, there is a little bit of something for nearly everyone, so this should work. The badges (recognition) are also important and in a community type app, they represent a degree of trust that customers want, and workers will strive for in order to stand out.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2022

    What are retailers finding so tough about customer acquisition?

    This is a tough question if a brand depends largely on acquiring new customers. CAC is certainly rising quickly and for many marketers, the CAC now exceeds contribution margin on the first couple sales. Knowing your real CAC and CLTV is critical to make wise investments, but digital marketers should also be working with other areas of the business to increase CLTV - so they can afford to bid more, as well as build loyalty, so CAC drops on a weighted-average basis. There is no silver bullet, but the answer lies in delivering value that customers recognize, so they don´t have to be re-acquired in the first place.
  • Posted on: 05/17/2022

    Which exec role should guide the path to the metaverse?

    By default, I think the metaverse is just another channel - albeit potentially a huge one with decades of opportunity to influence company growth. However I think it is more important to put the right person in this role, rather than just allocate it to one departmental executive. In fact, I would go further to suggest that the CEO needs to have significant responsibility even if she/he lacks relevant experience for the simple reason that many departments in a company should be involved in defining, deploying, or operating in the metaverse. If one department has responsibility, the other departments may not be very supportive. The metaverse is an area of investment that will require companies to be capital efficient over the long-term. Significant business beyond gaming is not going to materialize in the next year or two, but a company cannot wait to experiment. So they need to get started but burn a small enough amount of cash that risks are contained while ideas for possible expansion flourish.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2022

    Can Starbucks replicate the ‘third place’ in the metaverse?

    Brands need to start experimenting with the metaverse concept because it is likely to expand quickly. "The third place" is a great concept offline, but could also be quite relevant online, so I see this as a smart way to put a toe in the water and see how people respond. I can imagine people wanting to enter a relaxing place online, getting pushed relevant content, possibly have the opportunity to meet like-minded people, etc. -- while enjoying a coffee. Of course, curating this experience will require some significant investment but, for the portion of people who engage, the opportunity to learn more about them should pay significant dividends. In general, brands need to be present where their customers are - and in this decade that means being present in marketplaces that brands typically don´t control. This is a new learning curve, but an important one for those that want to be relevant as the decade proceeds.
  • Posted on: 04/11/2022

    Will Fresh Market’s ‘club hub’ frequent purchase program drive loyalty?

    This is an interesting program design. Frequency is key and these parameters allow members to get to rewards quickly. Importantly for the retailer, customers are likely to buy more items than just those within the selected categories - and therefore, they are increasing revenue without the cost of points in non-category products. The challenge I see is communicating the program characteristics in a way that customers will remember. This could be challenging if there are three to five clubs running at a time, several of them might end in three to four months so others can be started. Of course, the categories mentioned are much higher margin goods than most grocery items, so they can afford to be generous. I will be interested in monitoring how this evolves - but focusing on frequency over total spend is what made Walgreens such a star back in the 1980s and part of the 1990s.
  • Posted on: 03/10/2022

    Eddie Bauer has a lot of stories to tell

    Engaging customers with content and experiences has been demonstrated in other categories for some time now. As the concept for the metaverse evolves, this type of immersion will become even more important as customers want to experience a brand and (maybe/probably) buy along the way. The North Face also introduced quite a lot of new content last year as part of the re-launch of their loyalty program. If brands want to build more emotional relationships with their customers, they are going to have to engage in the way customers live their brands.
  • Posted on: 02/24/2022

    Will shoppers engage with bitcoin loyalty rewards?

    Bitcoin and some other cryptocurrencies can be an interesting incentive for customers and I applaud Landry's for experimenting with this option to give customers more choice in how they put their rewards to use. Of course, cryptocurrencies can just as easily go down as up - and control of this is out of the hands of brands providing such an option, so hopefully customers recognize the risks. The other issue brands need to consider is that once their loyalty incentive has been converted to crypto, they no longer have any influence on the customer's behavior to redeem the points (value) in a way that improves retention.
  • Posted on: 02/08/2022

    Past purchases are no indication of current or future brand loyalty

    This research is helpful for those brands that report customer loyalty in a meaningless way. People build habits over time that can be very hard to break, but that can be confused with loyalty to the habits rather than loyalty to the brand. The engagement metrics cited are important to measure real affinity for a brand, and a customer's willingness to help the brand grow or optimize its business in exchange for incremental value (soft and hard value). I do agree with the notion that loyalty to brands has declined overall, but averages are not good indicators in a complicated marketplace. Loyalty to those brands engaging with their customers on both rational and emotional factors has gone up in the past five years, while those brands that just put product on the shelf and promote it with shotgun methods are in a more precarious position now than at any time in history. There are so many competitors, new technologies, and new business models coming into the market every year, that brands really need to operate real loyalty programs and stop patting themselves on the back with vanity metrics.
  • Posted on: 02/04/2022

    Crate & Barrel store partners on the fly with local vendor

    I like this example because brands should always be looking for ways to collaborate to increase perceived and actual value for customers. This one touches on many dimensions (community, efficiency, win-win-win, etc.), but many other types of partnerships can be put together on the fly (out of convenience), or be implemented more deliberately. Look at the new store-within-a-store examples at Target. People buy things to solve problems. Most of the time, any one thing that is purchased solves only a part of the problem and the customer requires other products or services to solve the entire problem. Partnerships enable brands to be more proactive in solving complete customer problems - and the perceived value of that is much higher than the cost of the components.
  • Posted on: 02/02/2022

    Should retailers ‘tip’ customers to pick up orders?

    This strikes me as an incentive like many other types of incentives - and their delivery cost is probably at least $3. The customer probably also saves $2-$5 on the tip they would have provided the delivery person. Incentives (like loyalty points, etc.) should be used to drive the type of customer behavior that helps a company optimize its operations. Too many companies only incentivize purchases and miss out on these broader emotional and/or optimization tactics. Modern loyalty technology (microservices, SaaS-based, API-first) makes adding such incentives at any customer touchpoint as easy as adding one line of software (code).
  • Posted on: 02/01/2022

    Is the metaverse a bubble waiting to pop?

    This is a serious topic and brands need to think seriously about how they will be portrayed in the metaverse, what they want to stand for, and how much control they want to have over their image in a virtual world. I agree it is early stages and a lot of the infrastructure still needs to be built, but most people would be surprised by how much content already exists in augmented and virtual reality domains. Who knows if Gucci can sell virtual handbags for $10 or $100, but figuring out whether and how a brand wants to be visible in the future depends on how they tinker with the technology over the coming years. I don´t believe customers will flock to virtual stores that look like existing physical stores, but shopping for and influencing real-world purchases will absolutely exist. We may not know for years whether this will be big or huge, but brands that put their customers first will want to experiment with how they can engage with those customers where those customers will spend an increasing amount of their time.

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