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by Leo Jakobson | March 03, 2015
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A RewardSphere User Approves
Beth Brunner, a dealer at Caesars Entertainment's Horseshoe Cincinnati Casino used some of her Total Return incentive program points to buy a new sewing machine.

"I have always wanted to purchase one but never did -- I am not very good at sewing and could not rationalize spending money on a machine that I might not be good at using," she wrote to Maritz after redeeming her reward. "So far I love it! I have used it for sewing on Cub Scout badges, mending clothing, and am trying my hand at my first quilt. The whole experience was very easy. I decided what I wanted on the Total Return site, ordered the machine, and it was shipped within a week."

She added that the Total Return program does work. "I believe that being able to earn extra points through various means is a real motivation to do better and give service that goes above and beyond," Brunner said.

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Maritz Motivation Solutions has taken its rewards redemption solution to a new level with RewardSphere, a powerful new platform that incorporates many of the social and personalization features that shoppers love on large consumer e-commerce websites.
 
For the past six months, Maritz has been rolling out the RewardSphere platform to customers that range from consumer loyalty programs such as Marriott Rewards to employee incentive and recognition programs for companies that include KeyBank and Sanofi pharmaceuticals, as well as dealer channel sales programs for companies such as Nissan.
 
"When shopping online, consumers have come to expect ratings and reviews, product comparisons, easy search capabilities, and access to the site on their phones, tablets, or any other device," says John McArthur, president of Maritz Motivation Solutions. "Why should a shopping experience be any different on a points-based reward site? It shouldn't."
 
Ease of use and access via mobile devices is very important, particularly to Millennials, but the value of peer reviews and ratings cannot be overstated. According to a December 2014 study by Influence Central, 88 percent of consumers consider online reviews very influential when purchasing a new product from a brand with which they're not familiar.
 
Other features of RewardSphere include 360-degree spin and zoom of images, as well as dynamic image optimization for Web, mobile, and social media platforms; in-depth product details and item comparison capability; the ability to allow participants to supplement points with a credit card; and powerful Web analytics and data analysis that can be customized to the client's needs. 
 
When it comes to incentive recipients, "expectations have changed," says Bryan Phillips, CIO of Maritz Motivation Solutions. "They want the features they're going to get on major retail sites."
 
One RewardSphere client who agrees is Troy Mitchell, director of partnerships at Marriott Rewards. "The Maritz rewards site already provides an exceptional redemption experience for Marriott Rewards members compared to other loyalty offerings," he says. "Now Maritz is moving into what I consider more of an e-commerce website, which is even more appealing."
 
The RewardSphere platform is built on top of a robust and well-tested platform: Oracle's Customer Experience Commerce Solution. And Maritz clients aren't the only ones it has impressed: the incentive company has been asked to present its solution at the Oracle Modern Customer Experience Conference next month.
 
"We took their e-commerce solution and enhanced it so that it works with multiple clients, and that's something that hasn't been done before," says Phillips. "The clients Oracle typically works with -- major online retailers -- don't have all these different clients with different points, different catalogs and different rules structures to deal with. But we do, so we had to develop the RewardSphere platform in a way that still provides a highly customized look and feel for our clients based on their program's needs."