eCommerce Loyalty Programs: Why Your Online Store Needs One
E-commerce is an easy way for small businesses to reach more customers, as long as you don’t lose them to big players like Amazon and Walmart. Amazon alone took in 44% of the e-commerce in the US in 2017.
To compete with major retailers’ selection and price, you probably already know that your online business needs to stand out by offering unique items, expertise in product selection, and excellent service.
Another way to appeal to new customers and keep current ones coming back is with an e-commerce loyalty program.
What Can an E-commerce Loyalty Program Do for Your Online Store?
We often think of loyalty programs as tools to get customers to come back, but that’s not all a loyalty plan can do. Here are five more benefits to e-commerce loyalty programs.
1. Get new customers on board.
Don’t make your customers wait until they’ve spent a certain dollar amount or placed several orders to start getting the benefits of loyalty program membership. Offer your customers an immediate discount or bonus item for joining your loyalty program and they’re more likely to sign on and make a purchase.
2. Collect marketing data.
A good loyalty program will provide analytics on your members so you can see which products they prefer, when they buy, how much they spend, and other information you can use to refine your marketing efforts. Smarter offers can lead to more sales and higher order values.
3. Increase the lifetime value of your current customers.
With your loyalty program marketing data and targeted offers, your business should be able to not only retain customers but earn more from them. Exclusive product offers, previews, and upsells of related items are easier when you have accurate information and your customers’ trust.
That trust is valuable—Invesp found that established customers are 50% more likely to buy a new product from a business than new customers are, and those existing customers spend about 30% more when they buy.
4. Keep your customer acquisition costs in check.
By using your digital loyalty program to target offers to your existing customers, you can boost revenue from those shoppers and reduce the amount you need to spend on new-customer acquisition to keep your revenue stream flowing. And when you do look for new customers, your loyalty program data can help you identify target audiences similar to your most loyal and lucrative customers.
5. Win back customers.
Sometimes an existing customer just stops shopping with you, and you don’t know why. Rather than write off that customer, you can use your e-commerce loyalty program to craft a custom email offer to bring them back to your store.
Think about which of these goals is most important to your business, and take stock of the channels that you use most often to reach current customers and new customers. Depending on your goals and customer habits, you may be able to do well with a straightforward points-for-purchase loyalty program, or you may need a program that includes social media reward options, tiered reward levels, and other advanced features.
Setting Up Your E-commerce Loyalty Program
There are several tools you can use to add an e-commerce loyalty program to your online store. Your options will depend on the e-commerce hosting platform you use and your budget as well as your goals and customer habits.
Here are a few options to show you what’s available and what you can expect to spend.
WordPress E-commerce Loyalty Program Plugins
If you have a WordPress-based store that uses the WooCommerce e-commerce plugin, there are several loyalty program extensions you can choose from.
1. WooCommerce Points and Rewards
WooCommerce Points and Rewards lets you set up a points-per-purchase loyalty program with customizable settings for point values and maximum discount amounts. You can make points retroactive for past purchases, use points as incentives for sign-ups and reviews, and more.
One one-year subscription for a single site is $129.
SUMO is another option for WordPress/WooCommerce stores. In addition to points for purchases and reviews, SUMO gives you the option to award points for referring new customers, sharing on social media, blogging, commenting, using coupons, and making charitable donations. You can also set points to expire after a certain amount of time.
A regular license for a single store costs $49.
Beans is a WooCommerce extension that offers more than twenty reward options, including rewards on customer birthdays, social media likes and shares, referrals, and reviews in addition to shopping. Beans also makes it easy to set up time-limited offers for loyalty program members, create custom rewards, and set automatic point balance reminders to encourage customers to visit your store.
Unlike SUMO and WooCommerce Points and Rewards, Beans has a tiered pricing structure with five levels ranging from free to customized enterprise plans. The free plan offers rewards for purchases and signups, point redemption for discounts, a welcome email to new members, and a rewards widget and program page. Prices for the other plans range from $348 to $4,788 per year, and each comes with an increased number of reward options and a higher monthly transaction limit.
Magento E-commerce Loyalty Program Extensions
Magento has several extensions that work with it, including Loyalty Program by Amasty and programs for Magento 1 and Magento 2 by Aheadworks.
Amasty‘s program for stores on Magento 1’s Community platform makes it easy to create multiple levels of benefits for your loyalty program members based on their purchase histories, to award free shipping to VIP members, and to create customized promotions.
The Community edition is $129.
Aheadworks’ Points & Rewards for Magento 1 lets you adjust the rate at which customers earn points for certain actions. It also offers options to award points for uploading user-created videos, answering product questions from other shoppers, and answering polls, along with other reward features for shopping and referrals.
Auto-reminders are part of this extension, too. The price for this version is $299.
Reward Points for Magento 2 includes pre- and post-sales tax point settings and analytics on spend rates by segment and individual customer. This edition integrates with ConnectPOS to sync customer rewards across your online and in-store channels.
The price tag for this Aheadworks extension is $349.
Choosing Your E-commerce Loyalty Program
Before you invest in an extension or a loyalty platform subscription, take the time to read the reviews, and double-check that it offers the features you want for your marketing program. Decide if you’ll want to purchase extended customer support as you set up and refine your loyalty program.
The better you get at rewarding your customers, the more rewarding your loyalty program will be for your business.
Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelancer who enjoys writing about business development and marketing, e-commerce payments and fraud prevention, and travel.