Loyalty Programs to Drive Sales & Customer Engagement

Loyalty Programs to Drive Sales & Customer Engagement

By Sam Kirkland, National Accounts Manager, Epicor Software
  ...with Group discussion footnotes added

[Footnotes have been collected by Danny Summers from The Group during discussions on this subject at the time of developing this story and are located at the end of this article. These notes provide important additional Group guidance in developing or evaluating your program(s).]



Loyalty Programs, no matter what you call them... Rewards Club, Rewards Points, Frequent Shopper, Green Bucks, Bonus Bucks, S&H Greenstamps (for us that can remember that far back) or any number of other names you might come up with, all have a specific goal - engage the customer. Customer engagement leads to customer retention and increased sales. Highly-engaged customers will buy 90% more frequently, and spend 60% more per transaction, resulting in 3x value every year, according to a Rosetta Consulting study.1 

So, how can you increase engagement with your customers? A loyalty program can be very powerful in not only driving engagement, but it can also increase sales.

Loyalty Programs - Where to Begin?

Developing and implementing a loyalty program in your business allows you to learn more about your consumer purchasing habits than was ever possible in the past. As a result, your communications and offers to consumers can be more targeted and relevant. So, how do you get started?

When a retailer wants to start a loyalty program in their business—or to make changes to an established program, they should always ask themselves, “What is the primary goal of the loyalty program?”

Is your goal to:

  • Retain Customers?
  • Attract new customers?
  • Drive more visits per year?
  • Grow basket size?
  • Reinforce your brand?
  • Increase word of mouth marketing?
  • Improve customer engagement?

Do You Know: 81% of customers say that loyalty programs make them more likely to continue doing business with the seller.2

Retailers must keep their goal(s) top of mind when reviewing the functionality and features of a customer engagement or loyalty program.

Sources Referenced:
1 Rosetta Consulting Whitepaper, “Customer Engagement from the Consumer’s Perspective”
2 Source: https://info.bondbrandloyalty.com/2017-loyalty-report

Supporting Your Goal

After establishing your primary goal, how do you configure a program to best support that goal? Let’s take a look at a few ideas…

Goal: Drive more visits per year
Program Ideas: Introduce bounce-back coupons, punch cards, or a loyalty-point program. Send communications to customers who have not used their card in your store for a particular number of days (30, 60, etc).

Goal: Grow basket size
Program Ideas: Send out a coupon for certain products only to customers who have never purchased those products from you. Bundle products, use BOGOs, or implement special product placement. (Tip: Use market basket data to make sure that if a discount is offered on one item, you have placed product with high margin next to it.)

Goal: Reinforce your brand
Program Ideas: Happy employees and customers could promote your business by handing out coupons or special offers to friends and family members.

Goal: Retain customers or Attract new customers
Program Ideas: Host a special event with VIP access awarded to your top 100 customers. (Ideas above may also apply.)

Goal: Improve customer engagement
Program Ideas: Reward loyalty points or discounts to customers for activities such as writing product reviews, following your social channels, sharing your pages, completing quizzes, watching your product videos, and downloading your apps.

An Example of Real Success:

One Epicor customer sent an email to loyalty customers for after-hours events. The spring event had a 456% increase in sales over the previous year. The fall event had sales of 151% over the previous year.

Having the correct data for loyalty customers, and a strong e-mail list combined with other marketing tools, made those events a huge success.

What unique event could you offer loyalty customers?

Keys to a Successful Program

After establishing your primary program goal, here are some tips to keep in mind as you develop and implement your loyalty program:

Keep it simple— Don’t make the rules for your program so complex that it confuses your customers and over complicates things for your employees running the program. Start with the basics. Remember, if your staff can't easily explain your Loyalty Program to a customer, it's probably to complicated and most likely your customer can't understand it either!

Avoid conflicting program features— Try to avoid loyalty program features that may conflict with secondary program goals. (Example: A retailer wants to be a trip consolidator—a one-stop-shop—for a customer. This would facilitate goals of customer retention and becoming the customer’s “business of choice.” It doesn’t, however, help the retailer increase the number of store visits per year. What is most important to your success? Prioritize your program details with that goal in mind. Note: Both goals may be possible if a retailer works toward increasing visits for different seasons.)

Educate your team— Ensure that every employee understands the rules and customer benefits of the loyalty program. Each person should be able to easily promote and explain it to customers.

Personalize it— Customers want to be recognized and rewarded based on their personal tastes and preferences. Most importantly, they want to receive exclusive, VIP access to the products and experiences they covet in exchange for their loyalty. Make sure your communications and program follow suit.

Adapt with the business— When business goals change, re-evaluate your loyalty program to make sure it supports the new goals. If it doesn’t, adjust the parameters, as needed.

These types of tailored programs can drive more business and, at the same time, create loyal customers for your business. A good loyalty program makes your customers feel more connected to your business. And, by offering special offers, incentives or rewards, you have the ability to increase wallet share (average sale) and drive consumer dollars into targeted (more profitable) product areas within your business.

As you can tell by this article, I am not trying to sell you a POS system here. My experience with Epicor gives me the opportunity to see how POS systems can help you tremendously in the design, implementation and management of the right program. I hope this can help you design the right Loyalty Program for your business!



Sam Kirkland, Strategic Relationship Manager
Epicor Software Corporation
605 Yorktown Rd., De Forest, WI 53532
Cell: 608-213-4966
[email protected]




A special THANK YOU to Sam Kirkland and Epicor for their support of The Garden Center Group as a Partner for Success!



For additional reading there are two other blog posts related to this subject.


Loyalty Programs Or Just Less Profit

Loyalty - Group Sharing Footnotes

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