Starting a Loyalty Program Doesn’t Have to Be Hard, Here’s How

How to Start a Loyalty Program

Are you ready to start a loyalty program for your retail store that goes beyond paper punch cards? Offering loyalty rewards to your customers can deliver plenty of rewards for your business. For instance, 39.4% of customers will spend more at the businesses they’re loyal to even if cheaper options exist, and 60% will recommend that business to others.

How to Start a Loyalty Program

Here’s how to get started improving your retail sales with a customer loyalty program.

Step 1: Decide What Kinds of Rewards you Want to Offer

Rewards are limited only by your imagination. Here are some ideas:

  • Points redeemable for purchases
  • Free gifts
  • Discounts
  • Access to special sales or early access to products
  • Free shipping

Ideally, your loyalty program will offer the option to set a wide variety of rewards.

Step 2: Decide What Actions you Want to Reward

Some examples of behavior you can reward include:

  • Making a purchase over a certain dollar amount
  • Buying a specific brand or product you’re trying to move
  • Buying during a slow time of day or slow day of the week
  • Referring a new customer
  • Mentioning your product on social media

To choose the most effective rewards, look at where your store needs to improve and tailor your rewards that way. For instance, if Sunday afternoons are always slow, offer rewards for customers who buy during that time.

Step 3: Make it Appealing to your Customers

If customers don’t think there’s value in your loyalty program, they won’t sign up. Offering a range of different rewards helps to convince customers of the value of your program and also keeps it fresh and exciting. Knowing your customers will help you assess what rewards will matter most to them and what type of loyalty program they’re likely to engage in—for example, whether they’re willing to carry another plastic card in their wallet or download a special loyalty app.

Step 4: Review your Options and Choose your App

You can search for loyalty programs for retailers online or get advice from other retailers or industry associations. Before choosing a loyalty program, get answers to these questions:

  • Is it easy for you and your team to set up, learn and use?
  • Is it easy for customers to use and understand? (If not, they won’t use it.)
  • What are the setup and ongoing costs?
  • Does it integrate with tools you already use (such as your point-of-sale system or email marketing software)?
  • Does it offer the flexibility to provide a range of rewards and to customize rewards for different members?

Many customers don’t like to carry loyalty cards and won’t bother to download an app. To get around those issues, try one of these super simple loyalty programs.

  • Social Spiral: This loyalty program is easy for customers to use because it’s all SMS text based. Customers just text “join” to join the program and text to check rewards status—no need to download an app. Retailers can customize rewards, promotions and discounts. You can send group texts as well as individual texts. Analytics shows you how your rewards program is performing.
  • CandyBar: When a customer makes a purchase, your salesperson pulls up the CandyBar app on the computer, phone or tablet. Customers input their phone number and get a digital “stamp” on their account. Members can check their rewards via text; retailers can text back and forth with customers.
  • Loopy Loyalty: If your customers are avid Google Wallet or Apple Pay users, consider this loyalty program, which creates a digital loyalty card that customers can keep in their digital wallets. Loopy Loyalty uses location beacons to send customers push notifications on their lock screens when they get near your store. There are several levels of the program, making it a good option for growing retailers, and you can view detailed metrics to optimize your performance.

Step 5: Start Signing Up Customers

Once you’ve got your loyalty program up and running, promote it like crazy. Use in-store signage and point-of-sale signage to encourage signups. Announce the loyalty program on your website and your social media platforms, with a link to where to join. Send out marketing emails to your already loyal customers.

Employees are key to enrolling customers. Train your employees to promote the loyalty program during every sale. A good tactic is to share with the customer what rewards they could be getting for their purchase if they joined the program.

Once your program is up and running, check out these ideas for how to improve your loyalty program.


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Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

One Reaction
  1. You need to look at the rewards that your prospects will be interested in and go with that. You can then create a loyalty program based on that.