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: 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.
  • Posted on: 01/19/2022

    NRF 2022: Albertsons’ CEO sees frequency driving grocery loyalty

    Grocery absolutely works differently than other retail categories because of frequency and basket size. Customers tend to build a close association with one preferred grocery store/supermarket - because of convenience, experience, perceived value, or the benefits of the loyalty program (or a combination of these). As grocery stores have modified their business model in the past 10 years to also be relevant for lunch or to quickly pick up three things that were missed in the last big shopping excursion, the frequency has even increased. In addition, many customers care a lot about the food they eat and will choose a supplier (partner) that delivers the desired level of breadth and quality in selection. So, while the loyalty is built based on cumulative experience with all brand touchpoints, as well as perceived value, I believe grocery retailers can go further in engaging customers by building more partnerships in a dynamic ecosystem that can serve more of the needs customers have each month - to influence where that discretionary spending takes place. The result of such an online/offline/hybrid ecosystem (virtual and physical marketplace) is much greater customer insight based on spending across many categories, and the ability to deliver much more interesting rewards for the customer behavior exhibited.
  • Posted on: 01/11/2022

    Reality hits omnichannel retail with a hard truth

    I agree that customers don't care which entity is involved in delivering each touchpoint in a customer journey, but brands should. That does not mean the brand has to control/employ the personnel delivering the service, but brands need to make sure the right framework is in place so they can retain control of what really matters. That means the customer relationship is to the brand and does not end up being with the outsourced service providers. The CRM makes sure the brand is capturing the rich customer insight that comes from each touchpoint so they can improve personalization over time. And there is a focus on revenue/EBITDA so the brand is maximizing its business potential via economies of scale. After all, you can get very different customer experiences from different employees in the same company, so standardizing around best practices (possibly provided by third parties) should lead to improvement as long as the right framework is in place.
  • Posted on: 01/03/2022

    Are Nike’s Member Days loyalty’s future?

    Other brands should absolutely pay attention to Nike's efforts and methods of engaging customers. What is often ignored is that loyal customers want to be recognized above all else. This is why many loyalty programs have tier levels - which provide access to additional benefits. Nike's Member Days are a great way to recognize member loyalty with access to exclusive content and offers. Loyalty points are not necessary when the value proposition and recurring customer experience are good (or better than "good"). Of course, a points-based program can be a powerful tool in keeping score, so appropriate recognition and access to customized services can be delivered.
  • Posted on: 11/23/2021

    Can loyalty programs ease supply chain blues this holiday season?

    These types of suggestions are precisely why customers should be motivated to join loyalty programs in the first place. For most brands, the vast majority of their customers are not active in their loyalty program, so using this benefit could be a way to extend membership and drive more activity. Of course for out-of-stock items, good communications with program members and priority allocation of inventory can be a way to reduce tensions around scarce goods. Thanks Jenn for sharing.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2021

    Will paid perks pay off for Williams Sonoma?

    Subscription programs are a good way to increase share of wallet with customers because anyone who pays wants to maximize their benefits. I´m sure Williams & Sonoma tested the market to ensure enough customers would want to join, so this is probably a good move. However I caution other retailers from following suit because how many subscriptions can a customer maintain (beyond our mobile phone bill, internet access, Amazon Prime, the gym, etc.) - and how quickly will those be abandoned if the economy turns south?
  • Posted on: 11/04/2021

    Are the cards stacked against small and medium sized retailers?

    Well-run smaller retailers will be fine because they are more engaged with their customers and understand local preferences. The supply chain issues will be solved, but the labor issues will likely go on indefinitely - which means treating your colleagues well is key to long-term retention. Smaller retailers can also do more in the context of shop local campaigns to appeal to shoppers who care about their community.

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