American Express Co. is continuing its efforts to apply its analytic skills and extensive database of transactions to help businesses increase their revenues.

The company last month introduced its LoyaltyEdge service, to help companies develop or enhance customer loyalty programs.

In a similar move last year, Amex created its Business Insights unit to provide companies globally with analytics and consulting based on cardholder-spending patterns.

"We know from working with our partners that there is an increased interest in loyalty — to help customers become loyal and remain loyal, and to maximize dollars spent on maintaining those customers," said Lynne Biggar, Amex's senior vice president of rewards and loyalty.

She said several potential clients are considering the LoyaltyEdge service, though she would not name them; Biggar said Amex is being selective about the companies with which it will work.

Biggar said the biggest challenge for loyalty programs is differentiating them. There is also a trend toward providing a single place to redeem loyalty points. "Where we fill a unique place is that we can provide more of a one-stop shop, because we have the customer insight, the program design as well as access to Amex contacts to develop the breadth and depth of program offers and sophisticated targeting," Biggar said.

Delta Air Lines, a longtime partner of Amex for loyalty programs, is the first to use the new loyalty service, to boost its SkyMiles frequent-flier program. In the deal announced last month, Amex is providing SkyMiles with the SkyMiles Marketplace, an online portal where members can redeem points for hotel and car rental bookings, appliances, personal electronics, sports and leisure apparel, luggage, handbags, jewelry and accessories.

Analysts said highlighting its loyalty expertise is a good move for Amex. "It's a repackaging of the things they've always done for their partners and it's a great idea for them to brand it," said Megan Bramlette, managing associate with Auriemma Consulting Group of Westbury, N.Y. "This is one more revenue stream for them to leverage their existing expertise and market it to companies outside their existing relationships."

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