Loyalty Applications and Payments – Are Consumers Ready?

This blog originally appeared on Mobile Payments Today.

Loyalty applications are more popular than ever. Club cards, rewards programs and special opt-in discounts have been proven to have a remarkable impact on marketing and revenue. Now, as we shift to mobile payments, there is a new opportunity to integrate rewards and payments, but are consumers ready? 
Rewarding the Consumer
Customers love to reap rewards, and there can be great marketing and financial benefits with instituting rewards programs. According to TechnologyAdvice.com, 80 percent of respondents to their survey reported being more likely to shop at stores that offer loyalty programs, but many people aren’t ready for digital-only programs. How do you make rewards programs easier and target those who are prime for digital rewards? Integrate them with your mobile payments platform. 
The top reason for participating in loyalty programs is saving money, followed by receiving rewards. But many customers don’t get the full benefits of their rewards programs because using these programs can be cumbersome. They often forget their rewards cards, or don’t want to go through the hassle of signing up altogether, failing to see the true benefits that can be redeemed. 
Making it Easy
Today’s customer wants everything to be a streamlined, easy experience. They want benefits, but they don’t want to go through the hassle of opening up multiple applications and managing their rewards through several different services. In order to get customers on board with mobile loyalty applications, merchants must have a value proposition strong enough to justify the extra work the customer will do in managing the application and their activity on it. 
Mobile payments provide us with a unique opportunity to combine and streamline loyalty applications. By incorporating loyalty programs within mobile payment applications, merchants can offer an easy solution to customers by giving them the easy payments options they want, and allowing them to more easily participate in loyalty programs, without having to launch multiple applications at once. Just think, you could order your pizza from a mobile app, collect your loyalty rewards, and pay, all in one smooth transaction. 
Getting Engaged
Mobile customer engagement is growing, but customers can get “app overload” and become fatigued when they need a different application for every service they sign up for. Nielsen data suggests that users only actively use about two dozen apps per month. If your app isn’t a high priority for consumers, they likely will not engage frequently. Mobile payments fold into loyalty with an easy payment option, streamlining the experience and enticing more consumers to participate. By participating in rewards programs, consumers are more likely to engage with and patronize your brand at a higher frequency. This can help boost revenue, increase customer satisfaction and provide merchants with valuable, actionable data to guide business decisions.
Reap the Benefits
Loyalty programs can give retailers a strong competitive advantage in a changing marketplace. Best Buy, for example, recently upped their benefits for their branded credit card holders to 5 percent (from 4 percent) and experienced a subsequent increase in stock value. This move helped them compete with online retailers like Amazon in order to increase sales. These loyalty programs can be a strong differentiating factor when consumers are making purchasing decisions. 
From small businesses to global merchants, there are plentiful benefits for loyal customers. Loyalty programs help to cultivate repeat customers and brand advocates, who continue to foster revenue and can create positive buzz online. They also create more positive sentiment to be associated with the retailer. Customers participating in programs with rewards feel that they are being “thanked” for their business. 
Are Consumers Ready?
The short answer is yes. Consumers love being rewarded for purchases. Making rewards programs accessible to the customer is the key to bringing them on board. While some customers may be reluctant to move into online applications, that barrier can frequently be overcome by integrating with mobile payments and providing a single experience to serve the customer. This customer is then only completing a payment, with loyalty perks included, rather than participating in a loyalty program and having to scan a card or input a number in order to earn rewards. 
Are you ready for loyalty applications to be integrated with payments?
About the author: Stacey Finley Tappin is Apriva’s senior vice president of sales and marketing communications. She leads North American sales, business development, account management and marketing communications for Apriva and drives company sales and profit growth from both new and existing customers and develops new channels of business revenue.
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