With the popularity of Amazon Prime increasing, striving small businesses are trying to compete by running paid membership programs, which create a new type of loyalty. So what is a loyalty program and how can running a “Prime-style” loyalty program benefit your business?

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There are many types of loyalty programs on the market but in a traditional sense, the basis for a loyalty program is a customer earns points for spending and redeems a reward when a point target is reached. Therefore encouraging the customer to visit more regularly or increase their spending habits.  

Historically these loyalty programs have been executed by paper or plastic cards due to ease of use.  With the increasing use of technology and smartphones, today’s version of a loyalty program can include features like points being viewed in-app or marketing messages being sent via SMS. Typically these are the types of features you should find in a good quality digital loyalty platform:

  • Point balances sent in digital format (SMS, email or push)
  • Integrated into your businesses point-of-sale
  • The ability to send marketing messages via the platform
  • Auto-promotions for customer segments

Point-based loyalty points programs work well for cafes and quick service restaurants – venues where customers generally shop at a variety of places yet you still want to be at the top of their list of choices.

membershipsDigital Loyalty has evolved very quickly due to the advancements in the way customers consume digital content. Now we look at smartphones as a digital wallet or even our own shopping mall. Online shopping, Apple Pay, Amazon’s “one-click” purchase, and Amazon Prime have all driven us to enjoy fewer clicks, less hassle and basically doing less of anything.

So where does this leave small retailers? There’s still a place for independents as there are 22 million small businesses in the US, it’s just there is more pressure for business owners to add digital to their in-store experience. The combination of consumers going wallet-less along with the popularity of Amazon Prime is what has led businesses to use a “Prime-style” loyalty platform. In essence, a customer is charged a recurring fee and the business offers special rewards or benefits in return. Some features can include:

  • Setting up memberships and recurring payments directly from your point-of-sale
  • Tracking abilities for used rewards/benefits
  • Send promotions to VIP members to make them feel valued
  • Declined cards management

The icing on the cake is that all of this drives recurring revenues and leaves little up to chance when trying to strive for growth in a business.  Membership programs work particularly well where there is a great deal of competition and the customer should be regularly purchasing your product/service.

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The best vertical example using this type of software is car washes, for example charging $30/month for unlimited car washes. Membership programs can be used for unlimited rewards or a set amount of benefits within a billing period. Wine clubs, golf clubs, coffee shops, nail, tanning, hair and beauty salons, in particular, are also using membership platforms to run their Prime loyalty programs. Great membership examples in these verticals are:

  • $39.95/month for two premium bottles of wine a month
  • $119/month for 4 Deluxe facials per month and 15% off all products all of the time
  • $70/month for unlimited blow-outs or men’s shaving
  • $45/month for nail paint with shellac on toes and hands per month. As many touch-ups as required.

As far as small businesses go in surviving long-term, a digital loyalty strategy is a must – it’s just investing in an affordable product that can execute steady growth for the business and be so downright easy you would be lost without it.