Loyalty programs…A Nuisance?

We are in a new age. Paper, though not obsolete, is being used less for daily tasks. Where once we printed menus, now we can instantly update our digital menu boards from a back office. Where once we wrote in the candidate of our choice on ballets, we now touch screen our choice into a system. We used to handle only cash and checks and now we pay bills through our mobile devices.

Technology as we all know, has changed every aspect of our lives.

Loyalty programs are not an exception. For customers, it can be aggravating to keep up with punch cards. Or worse, if a card is lost, the customer would have to start all over! As a business, how do you know if the completed and punched slip wasn’t slightly or completely counterfeited? There are a lot of holes to the paper system that can be prevented by moving over to the digital side.

Some of you may wonder what the point would be at all. According to Hubspot, it costs a business about 5-10 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to sell to an existing one. On top of which, on average, current customers spend 67% more than new customers. Therefore, having a loyalty program statistically has its merits.

A loyalty program is a great way to retain the great customers and weed out those that only cherry-pick your sale selection. By offering rewards in your loyalty system, your customers will be encouraged to not only come back, but to also spend more to get those points. As a c-store owner, you just have to make sure the honey pot is sweet enough to keep attracting customers in the first place.

The remaining question may be whether or not you want to have a loyalty system via paper or go digital. Sure digital is probably more expensive up front than printed cards you may get cheap online, but you would end up missing out on a lot of untapped potential digital systems can offer you today.

With printed cards, you typically do not have a record of each customer. You would just hand over a card and it would be up to the customer to keep up with it. But how much better would it be if you could take that responsibility and place it into a system where neither of you have to keep up with any printed cards? Instead, you can have a database holding information about the buying habits of every one of your c-store locations.

With Gilbarco Veeder-Root’s barcode scanning technology, you can even bypass any physical cards all together! When a customer pulls into your forecourt, all they have to do is use their phone to activate the 2D barcode scanner in which the system will pinpoint their account and provide loyalty credit.  It is that simple, that fast, and that easy.

However, if you do want to implement some sort of physicality to your reward system, you can. But even by going digital for the most part of your program, there are still some additional benefits. Like if a customer loses a card, it would not be a tragedy. Though it may not be instant, you can easily reassign a new card. In the meantime, you can still plug in a phone number, like with Gilbarco’s Impulse technology, to find a customer and they can still receive their credit until their new card arrives. The difference between that and just handing over a new printed copy is that the customer would still have their points intact whereas a printed version would be lost forever.

According to the 2015 Colloquy Customer Loyalty Census, an average of American households is active in 12 loyalty programs out of the 29 they signed up for. Remember, building customer loyalty is not based on the latest and greatest in technology. It is much bigger than that. It is about establishing trust, providing a positive customer experience, and making their shopping experience easy. All of this will fortify your brand and separate your c-store from the pack. Technology is merely a tool to help provide those golden nuggets that make your c-store a successful, trusted, popular, and profitable business.

To review, here are some benefits to a digital-based loyalty system:

  • Data remains intact for both customer and retailer if “card” is lost
  • Physical cards are not necessary to get recognized for a reward at the time of purchase by using the customer’s phone number or other form of identification that can be searched in system
  • No longer have to print and punch physical cards. You can scan or go without.
  • No longer have to examine validity of punch hole in card.
  • Encourages customer to return to your store to get loyalty points. Can change a new customer into a loyal returning customer.
  • Increases trust and brand by providing innovative technology to make transactions more rewarding.

If you want to learn more about what technology your c-store can leverage to build customer loyalty, click here

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