Extended warranty provider Allstate Protection Plans has just announced the availability of Allstate Protection Plans Express, designed to enable both brick-and-mortar and ecommerce consumer technology retailers of any size streamlined access to Allstate protection programs — and in turn, offering them the ability to provide their customers access to a warranty product with both strong brand equity and a 90-year history to back it up, Allstate Protection Plans CEO Karl Wiley told Dealerscope in a pre-launch interview.
The Allstate Protection Plans Express applies across the board to consumer electronics, major appliances and furniture categories, and is powered by Falcon API software, which enables retailers to integrate plans into each product offering in turnkey fashion.
Wiley further elaborated on the program’s particulars to Dealerscope, and about the strategy behind making it widely available to all sizes of consumer technology retailers.
Dealerscope: What does the Falcon API software add to the program’s implementation?
Karl Wiley: API is an integration technology that allows two systems to integrate with each other and share data. We’ve used APIs for many years, but in this case, what we’ve done is streamlined and simplified this down to a simple set of APIs that any retailer of any size can use very easily to do the integration. It’s proprietary software for Allstate.
Falcon API is a set of protocols that a programmer uses to share information – a way for the retailer to easily identify the products they want to sell warranties for. Then when a product is sold with a warranty, that API alerts us that the warranty has been sold, and it’s created in our system so that a customer can get serviced. What’s great about it is that it’s all documented so the retailer’s IT department will be able to look at the documentation and understand how to do that integration; it’s very simple and straightforward.
Why is this different from other approaches?
Wiley: There’s a couple of things. We’ve grown so much in the past five or 10 years, [and] there’s been a lot of focus on us as a company that works with the mega retailers — and a perception that our premium service and our branded service are only available to them. What we realized was that the demand is just as great from smaller retailers. We’ve always been able and willing to work with them, but had never taken our service and streamlined and standardized it so that it was really easy for a smaller client to digest. We’ve made some tweaks to the Falcon API, which is based on technology we’ve been using for a long time, but it’s a streamlined, simplified version of it. And then we’ve basically [powered] that with a [dedicated] team that will work with these retailers to get the business up and running quickly with a minimum of effort. They will draw on all of the expertise and resources that we have across the whole business, which supports 130 million customers globally.
It [gives retailers] really two things [to offer] that you can’t get anywhere else. One is the Allstate brand, which is a huge thing for a customer who is contemplating whether to purchase a protection plan, or for a retailer contemplating whether to offer one. It provides that peace of mind that the product is high quality, backed by a brand everybody knows and trusts.
The second thing is the access to all our technology platforms and service network we’ve developed over the last 10 years, and that have an incredibly high satisfaction rating. We have the capability to do fast repairs, fast replacements, instant approvals of a claim online — all the technologies we invested in to service the mega retailer are now available to a company of any size now.
What impediments does this program remove that other companies can’t offer?
Wiley: The belief that every implementation has to be customized and, say, a three-month project. The whole purpose of this Express product is to standardize and streamline so that it can be up and running in literally days. And it goes back to the brand and the product. Before a retailer puts his customer into the hands of a service provider, they want to know who they are – [to avoid] the fear and doubt of working with somebody who doesn’t have the scale and credibility of Allstate. The customer can trust you, because they know our name.
Can you talk a bit about the ecommerce aspect of the program?
Wiley: Since COVID, ecommerce sales have skyrocketed. Retailers need every advantage they can get to make a differentiated offering – and it’s another reason to buy a product at their store rather than somewhere else, if a customer can buy Allstate protection with it. Secondly, it is a good-margin product. It’s an easy way for retailers doing ecommerce to add margin that they can reinvest back in their business.
Once the retailer makes the sale, the warranty responsibilities are handed off to Allstate – is that correct?
Wiley: Yes – they don’t have to do anything – just cash the checks. It’s a totally turnkey approach. All claims are handled by us. That journey starts with us; the system takes care of recognizing the customer, and then offers them up the different resolution options, and once they choose, we take care of delivery that resolution. It’s headache-free for the retailer.
In sum, the retail benefit is that all retailers across all sizes of products have easy access to the best protection plan out there in the marketplace, supported by an iconic brand in Allstate – and it can be set up in a matter of days. It means new revenue streams, is completely outsourced, and is done with a partner that you can trust your hard-earned customers to.
Nancy is a contributing editor for Dealerscope.