Customer loyalty is crucial to the survival of small businesses. By spending time building your customer base and consistently delivering value to customers, you encourage them to favour your business over your competitors.
Essentially, you want to be front-of-mind when your customer thinks about purchasing a product or service that you provide. Great customer service and delivering quality goods and services is vital, but you can also incentivise your customers in other ways.
In 2016, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that 82% of Australian shoppers over the age of 18 are enrolled in at least one loyalty program.
One of the most recognisable loyalty programs is the Woolworths ‘Everyday Rewards’ program, with an estimated 6.5 million active users. Customers derive benefit from the program through special deals and cost savings, while Woolworths uses the data it collects to learn more about its customers and improve the in-store experience.
Having access to this data is hugely important to Woolworths and fuels its ability to consistently deliver a great customer experience, bringing customers into a loop where it’s difficult to resist shopping with Woolworths because it transforms the dreaded weekly shop into a positive experience.
However, loyalty programs aren’t just for big companies and it doesn’t have to be an expensive exercise. The accessibility of the internet and mobile apps allows businesses of all sizes to implement their own loyalty systems. We’re going to focus on three apps that your business can implement today to get more customers through the door tomorrow.
Hey You was founded in 2010 and has quickly become Australia’s largest mobile ordering and payment system for cafes and takeaway restaurants.
As a business owner, you can list your cafe or restaurant on the Hey You app (available on Apple, Android and Windows). Customers can then search for businesses nearby and place an order through the app.
For the customer, this improves their experience because they no longer have to wait in line. They can order ahead of time and pay by card, streamlining the process of ordering and paying for meals and drinks. They’re also able to earn loyalty benefits without needing to carry around a number of different loyalty cards.
For you, as the business owner, you get to expand the visibility and discoverability of your business. What does this mean in real terms? New customers coming through the door.
If you’re familiar with the rush-hour coffee queue, Hey You could be your solution. By allowing customers to order ahead of time, you reduce the customer bottleneck and improve the experience.
Some studies have shown that customers spend up to 30% more when ordering through their phone, so it may also be a chance to increase your revenue. Perhaps you could provide a special offer to customers who order through the app, to incentivise them to keep coming back.
Established in 2011, Rewardle has grown to 300,000 members, spanning a variety of industries including food service providers, florists and tattoo studios.
As a business owner, you get to sit down with a Rewardle consultant to customise the experience you offer your customers, including things like the type and frequency of rewards that you offer. Your customers can then use a QR code on a card or app (available on Apple and Android) to place orders, claim and track their rewards.
For the customer, they have the flexibility to claim a reward or benefit of their choice. They can also access special promotions, such as half-price coffee hour or discounted food at closing time. Customers also have the opportunity to provide feedback and insights based on their in-store experience.
For you, as the business owner, Rewardle enables you to tailor a unique rewards system to suit your customers and access insights to help you better understand their preferences. Rewardle also allows you to integrate email, social media and marketing tools, reaching out to customers on the platforms where they’re already hanging out.
Create your own loyalty app with ‘Shoutem’
Shoutem was created in 2010 as an app-building platform (available on Apple and Android) that makes building your own loyalty app a breeze. No programming skills required!
You can develop and customise an app for your business with complete creative freedom - you choose how it looks, what information it shows and what rewards your customers can earn.
For the customer, the benefits depend on how you design your app. One of the most notable benefits to the customer is the uniqueness of the experience; there is real potential for you to build a community of loyal customers around your brand.
For you, as the business owner, you have creative license. You can include details and features such as locations, staff profiles, business pictures and flexible loyalty schemes. You’ve also got the option to include third party apps, including YouTube, Vimeo and Soundcloud.
Things to keep in mind
Loyalty programs are an excellent means of providing value to customers. If you’re going to go down this path, be prepared to commit to making it the best experience it can possibly be.
Customers can soon become disillusioned if your rewards or loyalty program fails to provide tangible benefits. As with all business decisions, be sure to read the terms and conditions thoroughly and don’t be afraid to ask for a demonstration of the service before committing (many services offer a no-obligation trial period for peace of mind, so take advantage of it).
Nat is the Communications Manager at Valiant Finance. She has a double degree in Journalism and Law, and a background in the fintech space, hailing from Asia's largest fintech hub, Stone & Chalk.