James Malliaros was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. As a typical Aussie kid, he was heavily into sports including cricket, Aussie rules football but soccer was his one true passion which began at the age of eight. His soccer journey was highlighted with the honour of representing Australia at youth level and signing a semi-professional contract at the age of 16.
As the Managing Director of myWorld Canada, can you tell us a little bit about your responsibilities and your role to give our readers a better understanding of what you do?
I have full P/L responsibilities in addition to all other operational functions for the Canadian business, which include customer service, sales, marketing, finance, and SME support.
What are some services and programs that myWorld Canada offers to SME owners to help them grow their business?
MyWorld Canada has many products in our portfolio but the one that supports our SME business is the Cashback Partner Program. This is a fully integrated loyalty platform that gives the SME owner the following:
- A customized loyalty card with the SME’s brand
- Access to our Digital Cashback Partner App
- Full visibility on our Cashback World Website
- CRM capabilities
- Newsletter functionality
- Trend and statistical analysis insights
- Ability to deliver e-commerce transactions (if applicable)
- Customer Sales Overview
- Customer data and shopping habits (what other retail channels have they shopped in who are members of the Cashback World portfolio.
- The ability to create shopping point deals for promotional use
- Super Cashback Module – for short term deals
- Registration flyers which allow the SME to register customers on site
- Customer Survey Module
The product is best described as a coalition platform program. Customers can use the card or the digital app across 1400 SMEs in Canada, over 100 on-line partners and also purchase physical and digital gift cards for some of the largest retail brands in Canada.
In addition, given our global operation, the shopper can use it in over 47 countries around the world. The app is geo-targeted and can display any retailer in the specific geo-targeted area who accepts the card and how to use it.
The shopper receives cashback and shopping points on every transaction. Cashback ranges from 1 per cent to 10 per cent depending on the retailer. Shopping points range from 1-10 points per transaction. A single point has a value between $5 -$10.
The cashback is delivered directly into the customer’s bank account every Thursday. The shopping points can be redeemed for deals that other SMEs offer on an ongoing basis. It is extremely user-friendly and drives tremendous competitive advantage for SMEs.
With our Cashback Partner Product, they can compete against larger big-box retail chains who have their own loyalty program, by getting to know their customers on an intimate level which can drive growth by increasing frequency and basket sizes. We have many examples of SMEs driving incremental year-over-year growth.
In addition, the investment required to run the product is extremely cost-effective and can be deducted as a marketing expense for tax purposes; making it very attractive for small business owners.
MyWorld helps SMEs create a loyalty platform to help grow their brand. How important do you believe loyalty programs are when it comes to the success of a brand? Do you believe it plays a significant role?
Loyalty programs have become part of the Canadian consumers DNA. The average Canadian has over 12 loyalty cards but usually only participates on a regular basis with about 3-4. Canada leads the way globally with their love of anything loyalty particularly programs that offer cashback and points.
According to the recent Bond Loyalty 2019 report, memberships in loyalty programs continue to rise with 70 per cent of consumers more likely to continue shopping with a brand because of their loyalty platform. In addition, the five main loyalty drivers that Canadians love are as follows:
- They enjoy participating
- Meets their needs
- Makes the experience better
- Rewards are very appealing
- Consistent with exceptions
Our own internal research also supports this, our platform is easy to use and shoppers love the cashback and shopping point rewards.
From an SME perspective, this drives brand equity, customer retention, increased spending, frequency and an emotional and personal connection with the shopper. All of which are vital ingredients to drive competitive advantage for an SME.
You have a lot of experience in the marketing industry that you could be considered an expert on the matter. What advice can you give to entrepreneurs when it comes to marketing their brand?
Narrow your focus and be great at 2-3 things, no more than that. Drive differentiation against your competitors, either as a value differentiator or a cost differentiator. Don’t play in the middle, pick one lane and be the very best at it.
Personalize your communication with customers, get to them intimately without betraying their trust. They are the biggest and most important brand ambassadors you will ever have. Never ever let them down.
Take the occasional risk, drive key learning then re-apply. Talk to your staff, communicate openly and share ideas. Use technology, we are at a place where the right mix of the variety of different communication tools that are currently available can make a massive difference to your business.
You’re a well-recognized leader with a solid background of helping businesses grow substantially. Can you tell us about some strategies you use that have helped you in becoming a strong leader?
My leadership focus points are based on the following:
- Create a positive energetic and inspirational culture
- Transparency in all aspects of the business
- Having Fun
- Measuring Success
- Strategic Planning
- Encouraging innovation and new breakthrough ideas
- Listening more than speaking
- Being humble
- Agility and adaptability
You’re heavily involved with diversity and cultural experience in the workplace. Do you believe that diversity and a strong cultural experience can contribute towards the growth and success of a business?
Absolutely. I have done a lot of work in this area and can say it becomes the most important driver for organizational success. There is nothing more powerful than an engaged and positive team. It’s amazing what can be achieved. It’s hard work and it takes more than having a culture and values deck that gets comminuted once and then its put away. At myWorld we embrace our culture, which makes it fun and enjoyable. If the work is fun, then we deliver great things. We all win.
Everyone is a stakeholder and owns the culture we have. From a Canadian perspective, diversity is Canada. My team has roots from 15 different countries with over 10 languages that are spoken. Most of them are millennials who are proud to be Canadian giving us tremendous advantages in every single way.
On a final note, you worked in the entertainment industry for over two decades but decided to leave that industry in 2011. What was the deciding factor that made you make such a huge career decision?
Having spent over 18 years in the Entertainment industry, I learnt a lot about the emotional connection fans have linked into movies and talent. Going deeper into these insights helped me understand the power of data especially around consumer behaviour.
It was through these insights that I moved into the loyalty space as the Senior Vice President for TCC Global a provider of short-term loyalty strategies. They help drive frequency and basket size within the brick and mortar retail environment. And also with Omelet in Los Angeles a creative agency that offered loyalty related insights for consumers.
It’s been a great career choice as the business continues to evolve thanks to emerging technologies in AI that brings an even deeper emotional connection between brands and customers.