Whether or not you have a bricks and mortar shop, almost every business needs to attract customers using the web and smart-phones. And they all discover that it takes a lot of work. You can have the best products, best workforce and best website in the world but you’re heading for failure without customers.
It is alarming just how few businesses hang onto those customers they have worked so hard to attract. Loyalty schemes are the way to do that.
The idea isn’t new: the Co-op grew from a single store in Rochdale by letting customers earn “dividends” and in the 1960s “Green Shield” stamps were so successful that almost every shop had to join to survive. Green Shield eventually became Argos. Loyalty reward schemes work, but in today’s environment, they need to be sophisticated, targeted and easy to operate.
Loyalty rewards can take many forms; 2-for-1 offers, discount vouchers, points schemes, referral rewards, prize draws and so forth. You can stay in touch with customers by email, SMS, social media, website widgets… or simply by knowing who they are when they return to the shop. But what works for some customers doesn’t work for others and what works for some businesses doesn’t work for all. Therefore you need a Loyalty program you can tailor.
Shopify is a world-leading e-commerce platform, so there are a significant number of high-quality drop-in Loyalty Reward apps. Here are a few of the most popular.
- Bold Loyalty Points & Rewards
- Yotpo/Swell Loyalty and Rewards
- Smile: Rewards & Loyalty
- Rise: Gift Cards & Loyalty
- Loyalty Lion
- Zinrelo Loyalty Rewards
Bold focuses simply on encouraging customers to earn points from purchases and on upselling. Rewards can take the form of gifts, donations to charities or simply cash discounts. For many businesses, the low maintenance of Bold is a plus and it gets five star reviews.
After installation, Bold shows a widget on every webpage through which customers can access their reward accounts. You can customise it to match your own website style and livery.
The app is free for up to 300 customer-members. Paid plans range from $29-$500 per month with a free 30-day trial.
Bold Loyalty is intended to integrate with other Bold products such as Bold Cashier POS, and Bold Brain (which tracks customer behaviour to improve the customer journey and conversions).
Swell receives 5 stars on most review sites. Yotpo’s product goes beyond discount points, indicating that you can reward more than 15 different types of actions. These include writing online reviews, interacting on social media, reading targeted content or referring friends. By involving the customer in more ways, you are building loyalty, improving SEO, gaining insight and promoting your brand all at the same time.
Swell is free to use for under 100 orders per month. The next tier up, “Silver”, is still very affordable. For larger enterprises with more traffic there is a premium “Gold” tier at a substantially higher price ($250 before a recent rebranding) but that is easily affordable for stores processing thousands of orders monthly.
Smile is another highly successful Loyalty solution that receives 5 star reviews. There is a free plan, however, it only supports points and referral rewards. Other features such as email marketing, analytics and advanced reward conditions have to be unlocked by upgrading.
The current pricing tiers are called “Starter” ($49/month as of January 2020), “Growth” ($199/month) and “Pro” ($599/month). Although you can use Smile for free, it is clearly geared toward medium to large enterprises.
We found it easy to use, with one-click integration with Mailchimp, Hubspot, KLAVIYO or Bronto. It is also easy for customers, with a single login for both your website and the Loyalty program, making it easy to spend points at checkout.
The team at Rise stresses that Loyalty programs should be proactive and try to re-engage with every customer. They also focus heavily on gift cards and store credit.
With Rise, you can build, schedule, and automatically send virtual gift cards or physical gift cards. You can issue them as a customer reward, or customers can purchase them as gifts. Gift cards are also a good way of issuing refunds. The application also lets you create and sell gift cards in bulk to third party businesses. You can issue gift cards that are redeemable at partner stores.
Store credit balances can be routinely communicated to your customers and are readily integrated with Apple Pay, Shopify POS, Klaviyo, Bold Cashier, Recharge and so forth.
Customer support is good but only active weekdays. A free one week trial seems a little short.
You can use Loyalty Lion free for up to 800 orders a month. The paid plans start around $159 per month, and rise to $699 or more if you’re trading at Enterprise level. However, this is a very professional package with great flexibility and 24/7 customer support.
That flexibility makes Loyalty Lion attractive to larger businesses taking re-marketing seriously. It helps you to build your brand through Facebook Likes, Twitter and Instagram Follows and brand-customised emails. You can reward your customers for social media posts, TrustPilot reviews or even for birthdays and other family events. You can promote your most effective brand ambassadors to higher tiers of reward, making this a very powerful market building tool.
The app also integrates seamlessly with your POS and with ReCharge, Mailchimp, Klaviyo, stamped.io, Loox, or Zendesk.
Gratisfaction is another five star Shopify app you can use to reward customers for a variety of actions in addition to purchases. That could be social media comments and follows, attending webinars and other activities that build loyalty and help your brand promotion.
Gratisfaction also supports wider functionality including raffles, instant prizes, quizzes and surveys. You can even use it to remember customers’ birthdays or anniversaries.
Gratisfaction is free for the first 100 loyalty scheme members, and although it rises as your membership rises, it remains very affordable.
A possible shortcoming of Gratisfaction is its limited integration with other apps. However customer support is said to be very good.
Zinrelo goes beyond the usual reward strategies. Instead, their unique selling point is their machine learning algorithms and data analytics. These can segment customers into clusters and suggest tailored loyalty reward strategies for each. That’s pretty sophisticated marketing.
It also shines at providing reports to track performance results: very handy for IT or marketing teams reporting to boards of directors.
Clearly geared for larger and international businesses (they claim 100 million+ loyalty members worldwide), Zinrelo supports multiple languages and currencies.
There used to be a free plan but at the time of writing, the website only shows two tiers – SMB or Enterprise – with no price information available. Features of the Enterprise plan include POS integration, data analytics and mobile support, with the implication that they’re excluded from the cheaper option.
Like Zinrelo, Appcard emphasises its machine learning, analytics and reporting capabilities. Take all the guesswork and overkill out of your marketing by delivering personalised messages and offers to each customer at the perfect moment. Then watch your sales, not just rewards, on real-time dashboards, and across multiple sites.
Despite all that sophistication, Appcard is easy to use: you can set up a points-based, spend-based, or tiered loyalty strategy in “seconds”. And you can use the Appcard loyalty accounts webpage as a digital storefront for your business. You can also market using email and SMS.
There is no free plan but for a medium sized business they appear to be very reasonably priced. There is no clear pricing on their website. Reviews of the app’s reliability are mixed so we suggest you ask for a free trial period.
In conclusion all the app mentioned in this article will have a great positive impact on your returning customer rates and improving your brand awareness. If we had to choose we would go Bold Loyalty Points & Rewards. We are big fans of Bold’s range of Shopify apps and this loyalty app is a fantastic tool and with its low maintianance does not require a lot of your time to get the best out of it.