Five Reasons the Future of Loyalty is Virtual, Not Plastic - Lift361

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Five Reasons the Future of Loyalty is Virtual, Not Plastic

By Seth Hirsch. Posted in Insight

August 13, 2014

There’s a greater than 50 percent chance that, while standing in your physical retail store, your customer will pull out a smartphone. It might be to kill time; it might be to compare prices; it might be to look up something completely irrelevant… or it might be to check a rewards app to see if your store is participating.

Apps like Belly, SpotOn and KeyRing are becoming increasingly relevant in shoppers’ lives. They allow participating retailers to upload special sales and discounts to exactly the kind of customers who’d be persuaded by the sale. After all, the retail industry is seeing fewer plastic rewards cards with each passing year—and with good reason.

Online and In-Store

Is your online presence the same as in-store, and vice versa? Smartphones, laptops, and tablets aren’t going anywhere. Help your customers help you.

With this in mind, here are five reasons retailers ought to stay relevant and shift to mobile rewards programs, either with a third-party app or simply by engaging directly with their audience on social media:

  1. It’s less bulky

    Nobody wants to carry around key chains or cards anymore. It’s like the wireless movement—people want non-physical convenience. The customer shouldn’t have to be burdened by having to dig through his or her wallet to make a purchase—and, better still, by tying it to their mobile device, there is a smaller chance of them forgetting their coupon at home.

  2. It’s more personal

    Not only is it easier and quicker, it’s also more exclusive. Customers who seek out loyalty rewards apps, or who follow companies on Twitter or Facebook, tend to respond to rewards more personally, as if the company were tailoring promotions to them directly—which, by the way, is entirely possible, when enough customer data has been collected. Handing out thousands of identical loyalty cards doesn’t have the same personalized touch as a notification or direct message.

  3. It’s more fun

    Opening the door to mobile allows for rewards “gamification” that invites customers to interact with your brand. For example, you could get creative by asking customers to tweet or Instagram photos of themselves in your brand’s clothes during specific holidays, and offer prizes to the winners. The possibilities are endless.

  4. It can garner repeat customers—the best kind

    If you play your cards right, these customers will genuinely appreciate the loyalty rewards—and come back for more. Experienced retailers understand that, while engaging new customers is nice, the real money comes from return customers who see your company as their go-to shopping experience.

  5. It’s part of a greater movement

    Consider this as an addition to a larger streamlined approach to retail, known as the omnichannel movement—a methodology that encourages retailers to offer, amongst other mobile perks relevant to physical and online stories, free stable WiFi in every location. This guarantees customers can always access their rewards quickly and easily at the register. And if they didn’t know about your rewards program before walking in, customer service reps can tell them at any time—even at the cash register. They’ll appreciate the surprise savings and remember your brand next time they’re looking for a similar product.

If your rewards program still relies on plastic cards, it’s time to consider implementing a mobile rewards program. Few people carry cash or loyalty cards anymore; but they do want to interact with you using their smartphones and computers. So give the people want they want: personalized offerings on the platforms they prefer. You’ll save a whole lot of plastic and encourage more customers to return for repeat business.