Loyalty programs need a reinvention. They’ve been widely used by businesses across industries for more than a century and they’re proven to boost revenue, but traditional loyalty programs have decreasing appeal amongst younger buyers. To stay relevant and be successful, the loyalty programs of today have to do more than just encourage transactions—they need to build community among customers in a real and valuable way.
That’s where Co:Create comes in. The company’s platform, built on web3, is driving an interactive, co-creative, and decentralized approach to loyalty programs. How? By helping brands craft better loyalty experiences that leverage blockchain technology to deepen customer relationships.
“People want to be empowered as integral community members, not just numbers in a database,” says Ankush Agarwal, Cofounder & Chief Architect at Co:Create. “Blockchain technology provides a foundation for trust, transparency, and ownership.”
With a background in backend development and distributed systems, Ankush leads engineering at Co:Create. He and his team have built a suite of products that enable brands to create, personalize, and evolve their loyalty programs into gamified community rewards experiences. These immersive experiences are fueled by Co:Create’s flexible, API-first community rewards and activations platform, designed to allow developers to easily build and deploy token-driven communities.
Given that Co:Create is an API-first product, Ankush was looking for a way to ship customer-facing features—in the form of frontend UIs—faster. This would enable Co:Create's customers to manage tokens, communities, and entire loyalty and rewards experiences more seamlessly. Ankush decided to start using Retool, which has transformed the way Co:Create builds features for customers, empowering team members in both technical and non-technical roles to quickly prototype and iterate on applications.
Fortifying and simplifying the dev stack
As Co:Create grew—and expanded their engineering team and product velocity—they wanted to ensure that their dev stack evolved with them. It was important that their brand-facing frontend admin dashboard could be quickly updated to reflect the most up-to-date product capabilities and client feedback.
Co:Create needed a solution that could fortify the company’s dev stack without overcomplicating it. The aim was to simplify working with different kinds of queries so the team could iterate and experiment regularly. After trying Retool, Ankush was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to run queries and create APIs to service data to frontend applications.
“There are so many layers—and potential points of failure—cut off by working this way and having a secure method for the frontend application to present the data,” he says.
Co:Create's external tooling, built with Retool
The apps Co:Create has built, including a sandbox and production dashboard, allow customers to manage their API keys and loyalty and rewards experiences, and access robust analytics.
Sandbox and production dashboard
Leveraging Retool’s new Embed product, Co:Create built a customer admin panel quickly, securely, and with the polish expected by external end users, including custom branding and CSS.
“This required a lot of thought and design,” Ankush says. “We didn’t just want a dashboard where users would go in and set up their API keys. We wanted to be able to guide users on the steps they need to take to be successful, and surface analytics on the homepage.”
While the planning process for the admin panel was robust, creating the app homepage only took one day with Retool. The same process used to take weeks with Figma and required implementing components in React, refactoring their code base, and conducting a code review process on the front end.
“A lot of that is eliminated with Retool,” Ankush says. “Figma is replaced by the Retool frontend and a lot of the backend heavy lifting is replaced directly by writing code within the Retool IDE.”
Co:Create’s development has sped up so much that the team’s designer even uses Retool for prototyping applications, then hands them over to the dev team.
“This has helped us move really quickly with our external facing customer dashboard—something we thought would take a month to ship,” Ankush says.
Co:Create soon started developing more features that now take one person only half a day to build with Retool, but would have taken a week to complete before and would have involved multiple stakeholders.
“The really cool part is seeing how quickly we can go from an idea to implementation,” Ankush says. “For example, a product manager might say that a line chart in the dashboard makes more sense than a bar chart. We can immediately update that and roll it out to users. This makes working with Retool like magic,” Ankush says.
In Ankush’s eyes, Co:Create has struck the right balance of speed and control over the UI. Performance and security are also functioning well. And the company has received positive feedback on the dashboard.
How Co:Create plans to deliver more value for customers with Retool
If tokenization, powered by blockchain technology, is key to the future of loyalty and rewards experiences, Co:Create is leading the way by building new features with Retool to help customers quickly and easily deploy new token types. And the company is constantly working to improve user experience.
“Right now the admin panel’s feature set is based on consuming data. The dashboard is really a read-only place,” Ankush says. “As we get more users, we want to make the product accessible to non-developers who don’t necessarily need to use an API to interact with it. We’re working on a new set of features that will take users to a page where they can create a token as part of a guided experience.”
With technical and non-technical team members now well-versed in building with Retool, Co:Create is successfully using embedded Retool apps for its core customer-facing application. This allows Co:Create to build sleek, custom-branded frontends and iterate 14x faster (!!) compared to a traditional stack—putting them in a strong position to continue scaling quickly.