A partnership built for loyalty

Store clerk holding payment terminal for a woman to tap with her smart watch for payment.


LoyaltyOne partnered with Slalom Build to modernize their premier loyalty points platform and move it to the cloud. As a result, customers now enjoy lightning speed opportunities to cash in their rewards.


Serverless Implementation, Cloud Development, Data Migration, Data Visualization, Mainframe Modernization, Experience Design, Solution Ownership


AWS Lambda, AWS Serverless, ReactJs, Amazon Kinesis, Java, Kotlin

An Ocean of Data

First, try to estimate how many air miles the average Canadian household has.

Then factor that by how many coffee shop, bookstore, and retail loyalty points they accrue each month.

Finally – multiply that number, crank it up to 11. Million households that is.

That staggering amount of data is what Canadian loyalty program LoyaltyOne juggles. Day in, day out. More daunting, they have to make sure that data – all those points – are almost instantly accruing and ready to use, for each and every one of those 11 million households. Slalom Build was brought in to help wrangle all that data, update a legacy and mainframe tech stack, and in doing so, radically improve customer experience across the board.

Looking straight up between buildings to see an airplane flying overhead.

The Loyalty Euro

Historically, LoyaltyOne’s core platform issued miles using a batch-based approach. What makes this company different from other loyalty programs is that it's a coalition loyalty program. Put simply, retailers participate in one consolidated program It offers loyalty currency for all of their customers’ shopping behaviors in their stores or on their services. This single currency goes into one combined account. Kind of like a loyalty Euro!

And while convenient, it also introduces a host of challenges. Like an extremely complex back end and loads of data, rules, and validation, all of which was causing delays for customers in getting their latest accrual balance. This, in turn, impacted their ability to redeem – which was bad for everyone's business. There were multiple intakes of transactions constantly flowing throughout the system, which were then grouped into tiers, which affected which benefits were actually applied. And to top it all off, there appeared to be little visibility into how points were being calculated, and no real way of addressing discrepancies. To say it’s complex would be a gargantuan understatement.

When LoyaltyOne first approached Slalom Build, it was long past time to not only tune, but supercharge their engine. In fact, they had struggled to modernize their existing legacy and mainframe platform for nearly seven years – a lifetime in the hyper-competitive loyalty industry where everyone's vying for customer dollars as well as attention. This upgrade was essential to maintain their competitiveness in an increasingly crowded loyalty space. Fortunately, Slalom Build has modern tech built into our very DNA, not to mention deep expertise in modern cloud solutions. (Of course, our ability to be in the same city, time zone, and often the same office as LoyaltyOne didn’t hurt either.)

Lineup of clocks against a decorative wooden frame.
Two people working with devices shot from overhead.

Getting Under the Hood

In order to compete in this customer-centric landscape, LoyaltyOne needed to unlock the ability for real-time transactions so that customers can access their points anytime, anywhere.

But before anything else, our team needed to truly understand the situation, and that required a deep look at the inner workings. How the data was being processed, in which order, how rewards were being calculated, and more. By uncovering and documenting all aspects of the existing system, we were able to together make the decision to rethink the technology solution to be cloud-based.

We brought in three development pods structured in the PEM methodology – solution architects, solution owner, engineers, QE, and more – to slide seamlessly into the delivery cadence with client teams. We also injected velocity into the program and leveraged AWS services and a whole host tech including: Java, Lambda, serverless technologies, ReactJs, Kinesis, Event Streaming, Kotlin, and more. Whew.

A variety of brightly colored app icons.
two people collaborating at desktop computer screens.

Plus, we put a lot of emphasis on making sure that all of it could support the load with high availability. So, the rigor around performance testing, quality, and the reporting side of it was really important. There needed to be extra thought around how to handle fail over, what to do when the system goes down, and what the negative use cases could possibly be. Additionally, we saw an opportunity to help upskill their existing teams so they could continue working this system on their own, in the future.

Essentially, we were replacing the system of record for the entire business. It is the beating heart of the program. Everything else is connected and feeds off it, whether it’s their Customer Care Center, their direct integration with partner point-of-sale systems, their marketing and analytics teams, their web channel and mobile app – absolutely everything relied on this system. So when it was finally switched over, it had to be near-perfect. LoyaltyOne needed to ensure that there was as little disruption to the business as possible.

Man talking and gesturing at a conference table in front of a laptop.

A Completely Uneventful Event

Did we deliver near perfection, right on time? What happened when the switch was flipped?

Well, according to LoyaltyOne it was a total non-event. (We actually delivered a few hours early!) It was so well-implemented that the business barely noticed.

The solution today includes a complete modernization from a legacy and mainframe-based platform to a serverless AWS solution, plus an overhaul of a batch-driven data processing engine to a modular event-driven componentized architecture.

It also now has a full-featured UI with an operational dashboard for full visibility into how data is being processed, calculated, and finally reprocessed into rewards for collectors. Which is something they’d never had before. Plus a completely configurable admin interface as well as a data model remapping and conditional logic that helps account and plan for hundreds of edge cases.

In the end, the project was a resounding success, to say the least. In fact, LoyaltyOne claims that working with Slalom Build set a new standard for how a partnership should be. The feeling must be mutual because, as Slalom Build client service partner Kim Waselovich put it “We all really meshed. As it related to culture, as it related to how we did work, as it related to our people. It has been a very positive experience. A lot of our people will tell you it's their favorite project they've been on.” That’s a partnership that continues to earn rewards.

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