Loyalty programs have been around for a very long time, but today, they’re everywhere. Our wallets are now packed with plastic and paper designed to get us some sort of discount from the stores and brands we love, and with good reason – loyalty cards work. They’re extremely popular with customers because people love discounts, and they’re a gold mine for merchants because they offer significant benefits to both the bottom line and the building of customer relationships. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of those benefits, as well as how merchants can get started with their own loyalty programs today.
The Benefits of Offering a Loyalty Program
There are a variety of benefits that a loyalty program can offer to merchants. For customers, the obvious benefit is that being a part of your loyalty program gains them a discount of some type. But to offer up that discount, your company needs to be getting something of value in return, and that value comes in the form of repeat business and improved brand awareness.
From a financial perspective, the biggest value of a loyalty program to your business is that it keeps people coming back through your doors. A customer without a loyalty card might choose to buy their coffee in the most convenient or cheapest location, but a customer with a loyalty card will happily walk a little further or pay a little more in order to get one stamp closer to a freebie. No matter what form your loyalty program takes, that basic principle still applies. By offering your customers some sort of discount, you give them a reason to choose you over your competitors. The repeat business generated more than pays for the value of the discount (assuming, that is, that you’ve designed your loyalty program carefully.)
The second major payoff to your business is that it will improve brand awareness in your customers and target markets. Going back to the coffee example, if a customer is a member of a loyalty program at Coffee Shop X, their constant return visits are going to create an elevated level of awareness of that brand, to the point where the customer will begin to identify that brand as part of who they are. As a result, even on a day the customer accidentally leaves their loyalty card at home, they’ll still walk right past a competitor to go to Coffee Shop X, because that’s just where they get their coffee! That kind of brand loyalty extends far beyond discounts and instead taps into a consumer’s sense of self. The ability to build that kind of relationship is highly valuable to B2C businesses of all types, and loyalty programs are a great way to do it.
How to Get Started with a Loyalty Program
The simplest way to launch a loyalty program is with a standard paper card, but in this digital age, many companies need something a little higher-tech, in the form of scannable or swipeable numbered cards. Such cards make it possible to offer a wide range of loyalty programs ranging from punch or stamp card-style programs to yearly memberships covering and tracking all purchases, and beyond. Getting such a loyalty program off the ground isn’t overly difficult, but getting an electronic loyalty card setup does require a little bit of leg work up-front. Luckily, your payment processor likely has the expertise, software, and equipment you need. BAMS, for instance, offers complete loyalty and gift card services to its merchants, including fully customizable, professionally designed cards that can be used both in-store and online. Getting started is as simple as reaching out and expressing interest in developing a program, and the expert team at BAMS can guide you every step of the way from there.
For more information on BAMS loyalty program services or to request a quote on customized cards, contact us today.