Retail businesses are always seeking novel ways to retain customers and drive repeat business. And in terms of ROI, loyalty programs are one strategy that’s gained in popularity over the last decade.
Today, customers expect and love rewards, and that’s why a successful program can help to drive sales growth and lifetime customer values.
However, one challenge that retailers face when using rewards: Creating an omnichannel loyalty experience. Omnichannel programs cater to customers, no matter how they find your business. For example, a customer might make a purchase during a visit to a brick-and-mortar location. Then, subsequently, they might purchase through your ecommerce site.
An omnichannel or ecommerce loyalty program would provide rewards (like a discount code) that could be used online or in-store. Ultimately, the goal is to offer a more customer-centric approach that’s personalized across multiple touchpoints (online, offline, social, etc.). The good news: You don’t need a development department to do this. Thanks to third-party loyalty apps that integrate with POS systems, even small businesses can launch and scale an omnichannel rewards program.
What Is An Omnichannel Loyalty Program?
An ecommerce loyalty program offers a modern approach to customer retention and engagement.
Unlike traditional loyalty programs that focus primarily on transactions, omnichannel loyalty programs aim to create a holistic customer experience. They leverage technology to deliver relevant offers at the right time, regardless of when and how customers shop.
For instance, a customer might earn points for making a purchase online, sharing a product on social media, or even visiting a physical store. This approach not only increases customer loyalty but also fosters a deeper connection between the brand and its customers.
Traditional vs Omnichannel Rewards: Key Differences
Take a closer look at how an ecommerce-connected rewards program differs from what you might expect from retailers:
Traditional Loyalty Programs
Focus on transactions, primarily rewarding customers for purchases made in a brick-and-mortar setting or a single online platform.
- Easier to implement
- Customer-friendly and easy to use
- Limitations for larger, growing or multi-location businesses
- More difficult to scale (e.g., you launch an online store)
Omnichannel Loyalty Programs
Focus on customer engagement across multiple platforms. Rewards can be earned through various activities, not just purchases, and can be redeemed across different channels.
- Engages web-connected audiences
- Creates new opportunities to engage and drive loyalty
- Easier to scale
- Requires more customer education
Benefits of Ecommerce Loyalty Programs
Creating a cross-platform customer rewards program can help your business drive better engagement and improve customer experiences. Some of the key benefits include:
- Increased Customer Retention and Engagement: By offering rewards across multiple channels, businesses can encourage customers to interact more frequently, thereby increasing customer retention and engagement.
- Personalized Customer Experience: Connected loyalty programs allow businesses to collect data about customer behavior across different channels. This data can be used to create a personalized customer experience, (e.g., using data to better pick a birthday offer) which can lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- Richer Data: These programs provide businesses with a wealth of data about their customers. This includes purchasing habits, preferred shopping channels, and demographics, which can be used to refine marketing strategies and improve customer service.
How to Set Up an Ecommerce Rewards Program: Steps
The most cost-effective way to launch a rewards program is using a loyalty app with ecommerce and POS integration. This will allow you to focus on onboarding customers, rather than the technical aspects.
But you also need a loyalty system that integrates with POS, because you will be able to engage customers at different transaction touchpoints. Generally, the steps for setting up a program include:
- Choose a POS Connected Rewards App – Find a partner who can help you customize an app because developing your own program from scatch is difficult.
- Consider the Customer Experience – You want to connect all the customer touchpoints, including app, ecommerce and brick-and-mortar. Use data to understand how your customers use these touchpoints and make sure the app can connect them for you.
- Onboard Users – The most difficult challenge: Enrolling people in your loyalty program. You can use in-store signage, special promotions, and more to drive customers to sign up.
- Grow the Program – After you launch, you can grow interest and drive customer sign-ups. For example, using email or SMS, having a simple opt-in plan for in-store and ecommerce check-outs, using customer-facing displays at the register, and promoting the program on social media are all effective ways to do this.
By using a third-party loyalty app, you can create a fully in-store to ecommerce program, without incurring steep developer costs. Another added benefit: A reputable app guarantees a positive user experience (for your customers and for your employees who will be using the app for promotion).
Omnichannel Rewards Programs: Examples from Industry
Many of the top retail brands in the U.S. use an every-channel program to connect with customers. However, thanks to helpful tools like Loyal-n-Save, many independent and small businesses are building better programs for customers.
As you build your own rewards program, follow loyalty program best practices, like making your rewards enticing and simplifying redemption. Also, you might find some inspiration from these successful programs:
- Sephora’s Beauty Insider Program: This program allows customers to earn rewards both in-store and online. Customers can choose how they want to use their points, whether it’s for discounts, gift cards, or in-store beauty tutorials.
- Starbucks’ Rewards Program: Starbucks, for example, collects data about customers’ buying habits and preferences to provide them with personalized perks. Customers can earn points for purchases made in-store, online, or through the mobile app, and these points can be redeemed for free drinks, food, or other rewards.
- Nike’s NikePlus Program: NikePlus members receive early access to new products, exclusive content, and personalized training plans. The program also integrates with the Nike app, allowing customers to earn rewards for physical activity.
- Ulta Beauty’s Ultamate Rewards: This program allows customers to earn points for every dollar spent, which can be redeemed for products. The program also offers a tiered system, with higher tiers receiving more benefits.
- The North Face’s XPLR Pass: Members of this program earn points for purchases, attending events, and even for outdoor activities tracked through partner apps. Points can be redeemed for exclusive products and experiences.
These examples illustrate the diverse ways in which businesses can implement and benefit from omnichannel loyalty programs.
The Future of Loyalty Rewards
Customers now expect an omnichannel experience from retailers and food and beverage businesses. If you can provide a seamless experience, customers are much more likely to use and redeem rewards and become more engaged and loyal customers.
As you begin to build a program, consider these strategies to use for engagement and growth:
- Gamification – Incorporate game elements to increase customer engagement. Using points is one of the best ways to gamify your loyalty program.
- Personalization – Omnichannel programs provide richer data, which, subsequently, brands can use to provide more personalized offers. This drives both engagement and loyalty.
- Social Media Integration – A lot of programs connect with social media sites to amplify their message and raise awareness. This helps bridge the gap between offline and online processes.
- Tiered Programs – Lastly, using tiers is a powerful engagement strategy because it drives loyalty among your most dedicated audiences. In general, tiers can be based on frequency or sales volume. This is common with hotel chains, as top customers get perks like free WiFi, room upgrades or late checkout.
Launch Your Program
Many companies put off using rewards because they’re afraid of the cost or time involved in starting a program. Fortunately, third party tools make it easier than ever.
Ready to start? The team at FTx POS can help. Our loyalty app – Loyal-n-Save – offers brands an easy way to launch and grow an omnichannel loyalty program. We can help you connect customers’ offline and online shopping experiences with white-label solutions or through our signature loyalty rewards app and cloud retail POS.