How to Build a Loyalty Program App?
Loyalty management is a fast growing market. It was valued at US $ 1.94 billion in 2016. The market is expected to grow to US $ 7.305 billion in 2022, which represents a CAGR of 24.73%. Read about this and more statistics on this market in a Reuters report titled “Global loyalty management market forecasts to 2022 segmented by type of solution, deployment, organization size, applications & geography”.
Mobile apps, already very important in many industries are becoming a vital part of the loyalty market. 38% of companies use their mobile apps to provide personalized offers and promotions to their customer. Check “2018 Customer Engagement & Loyalty Statistics” to find how mobile apps are important in this area.
You can also engage customers and improve brand loyalty by developing a mobile app for your business. The technology and tools are now readily available to help you do this. In this article, I will explain more about loyalty program app development.
Features of a loyalty program app
Plan on incorporating the following features in your loyalty program app:
- The loyalty cards must be customized. Branding, information, layout, etc. should all have your definitive signature that identifies with your brand.
- Complete integration is needed with POS and eCommerce providers.
- Marketing campaigns, promotions, and loyalty programs are never ’one-size-fits-all‘. You need to design separate programs for different segments. The app should cater to it.
- The app should have an elegant ’User Interface‘ (UI).
- Push notifications are required in a loyalty program app.
- You need to know how your loyalty programs are working. You need detailed and aggregated analytics and reports.
- The app must comply with security requirements, for e.g., PCI DSS.
- Social media marketing should be seamlessly integrated into the app.
- Your app should make it easier for users to manage their loyalty cards.
- Geolocation-based search is key so that your users can find rewards and coupons near their location.
- Last but not the least, a robust customer care for the loyalty program is required.
Read more about these features in this guide offered by Spoonity.
Examples of great loyalty program apps:
Before you start building your loyalty program app, I recommend you review these examples for great design ideas:
Starbucks Rewards app is available on both Android and iOS. It has a tiered loyalty program with 2 tiers. Their reward program offers the following features through their app:
- Free refills;
- Mobile payment/ordering;
- Exclusive member offers;
- Personalized rewards.
Sephora‘s Beauty INSIDER
Available on both Android and iOS, the Sephora Mobile App offers exclusive rewards. It‘s integrated with the company‘s retail stores, websites, and Sephora stores present inside JCPenney stores. Customers need to use their email address while checking out to accumulate points.
Kohl‘s Yes2You Rewards
Kohl‘s app offers 50 “Yes2You” points when users download the app. “Yes2You” is their rewards program. They have both Android and iOS apps. The company offers a cashback point-based system through their app. There are yearly rewards, furthermore, members also get reward points for birthday and other special occasions.
NikePlus rewards program
Nike offers their NikePlus rewards program. Some features are only available in their app. There are exclusive offers for members, additionally, the app also enables fast shopping. There are rewards for special occasions like a birthday. The company has both iOS and Android apps.
How to launch your loyalty program app without coding
Businesses without access to a skilled app development team have a few zero-coding options to launch loyalty program apps. I will explain a few of these options.
Option #1: The iBuildApp app builder
The company iBuildApp offers app builders for different mobile app use cases. With this option, you don‘t need to hire a mobile app development team. The company provides drag-and-drop app builders, furthermore, they provide cloud hosting. Your main cost element is the product cost.
Their loyalty card app builder has templates suitable for this use case. You need to follow an easy, and intuitive process to build your app. Your users will show the loyalty card app to the cashier in a store, who punch a code so that stamps are accumulated for users.
The app will have good analytics features for you to measure user engagements. There are other useful features like push notifications. While their loyalty card app builder template is free, you need to buy their service which includes the cloud hosting.
Check their pricing plans here. You are responsible for publishing your app in ’Google Play‘ and ’Apple App Store‘. You need to know the respective guidelines hence, check them out here, and here. If you buy a higher-priced plan, the company provides app publishing assistance.
Option #2: The Appy Pie app builder
Appy Pie provides their drag-and-drop app builder for many mobile app use cases. With their app builder, you don‘t need to code. Their offer includes cloud hosting hence, the product cost is your only key cost element.
Their loyalty app builder offers the following features:
- An ability to easily reward loyal users and improve their engagement.
- You can choose your own validation criteria like QR code.
- The app builder allows customizing your reward program.
- You can easily integrate social media and email marketing.
- The app will have the push notifications feature.
- A robust analytics suite will help in analyzing the results of your campaign. It also helps you gauge the user engagement.
- You can launch both Android and iOS apps.
- There are good security measures.
- Your app can remind users about expiry of loyalty cards.
You need to sign-up with Appy Pie, subsequently, there is an intuitive drag-and-drop process to build your app.
While the company offers different pricing plans, remember that only the Platinum plan allows you to use own branding. Check their pricing plans here. You need to get ’Google Play’ and ’Apple App Store’ accounts. You also need to follow the app publishing guidelines I have mentioned above.
How to develop your loyalty program app from scratch
While the above app builder options are useful for businesses without a skilled development team, differentiated features require custom development. I will now explain the custom development approach for you to create a loyalty program app.
UI and front-end design and development
In this custom development approach, you need UI/UX designers to design your mobile app UI. A good UI is key to the success of your app. Check our guide “Mobile navigation menu examples” for more details.
SDKs and APIs for common functions
You certainly need Android and iOS developers for this development project, however, you can expedite the project. There are several common functionalities in a loyalty app. Businesses offer their ’Software Development Kits‘ (SDKs) and ’Application Programming Interfaces‘ (APIs) to make it easy to integrate these functions. I suggest you use SDKs/APIs, and I will describe a few such options.
SDK/API option #1: Smile.io APIs
Smile.io, the rewards program API provider offers their APIs for creating a loyalty program app. You can build the following features in your app with their APIs:
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- Reward points;
- Differentiated rewards for special customers.
Access the APIs here. The company‘s platform enables you to create beautiful mobile designs. You can easily integrate your existing systems. You can offer an elegant rewards program experience to your customers, furthermore, you can launch your rewards program quickly.
Their platform is a ’Software as a Service‘ (SaaS), consequently, all updates are automatic. The company offers a powerful analytics suite for measuring the success of the rewards program. You can also measure the user engagement with it.
Request access to their APIs here, and then you can read their API documentation. The company also provides comprehensive learning resources, which you can access here. Check out their pricing plan here, and request a demo here.
SDK/API option #2: SDK.finance APIs
SDK.finance, the core payments platform company provides APIs for developing a loyalty program app. Their APIs allow you to incorporate the following features:
- payments and loyalty functionalities;
- integration with popular payment gateways;
- easy integration with key 3rd party APIs for ’Know Your Customer‘ (KYC), OAuth, etc.;
- compliance with PCI-DSS and other key security standards;
- an ability to manage reward programs;
- customer profile management;
- reporting, and analytics.
Read how their APIs can help with the loyalty program business case here. You can access their API documentation here. You need to contact them to get their pricing information. The company offers a free trial period, you can check it out here.
SDK/API option #3: Talon.One APIs
Talon.One, a promotion programs platform company provides APIs for loyalty programs. With their APIs, you can build several functions in your loyalty program app, as follows:
- You can easily integrate your existing systems.
- The APIs offer an ability to launch the loyalty program quickly.
- Scaling your loyalty program is easy.
- The app can incorporate customized loyalty programs.
Access their loyalty APIs here. You can use their developer portal here, additionally, the API documentation is here. Preliminary information about their pricing information is available here. You need to contact them for a demo, and detailed pricing information.
Backend for the loyalty program mobile app
So far, I have elaborated on the UI, front-end, and using APIs for common functionalities. You also need to address your mobile app backend. I recommend you use a ’Mobile Backend as a Service‘ (MBaaS) provider to expedite your project.
MBaaS providers address several key aspects of the mobile backend. This includes infrastructure, database, persistent storage, user management, security, API integration, and scaling. Using an MBaaS provider can free up your time, thus allowing you to focus on the front-end. AWS for mobile, Google Firebase are some popular MBaaS providers. Read our guide “How to choose the best mobile backend as a service (MBaaS)?” for more examples.
Your loyalty program app development team
You need business analysts, UI/UX designers, Android developers, iOS developers, testers, and a project manager (PM) in your team. The PM should know key project management methodologies well. Refer to our guide “Top 7 project management methodologies in 2018” for more details.
A mobile app is a customer-facing channel. These are called ’Systems of Engagement’ (SoEs). Agile is the preferred project management methodology for developing SoEs, because of iterative development. You need to build an Agile team. You can refer to our guide “How to build an Agile development team?” for more details.
Project execution, tracking, and control
While Agile is a broad PM methodology, there are several techniques that come under its‘ wider umbrella. ’Scrum‘ is a proven technique for managing iterative developments. I recommend it for this project.
In this technique, a ’Product owner‘ (PO) provides features, i.e., requirements. These are documented in a ’Product backlog‘. The PM acts as a ’Scrum master‘ and organizes his team into a cross-functional ’Scrum team‘, i.e., developers and testers work together.
Upon estimating the features, ’Sprints‘, i.e., iterations are planned. During a sprint, the team conducts a ’Daily stand-up meeting‘ to discuss the project status, furthermore, the scrum master resolves issues. To demonstrate the success of a sprint, the team conducts a ’Sprint review meeting‘. Project stakeholders review demonstrable features and approve the sprint if the features are working.
The team also conducts a lessons-learned exercise called the ’Sprint retrospective meeting‘ after the sprint. After the ’Minimum Viable Product‘ is launched, the team repeats this process, i.e., executes more sprints. You can consult our guide “How to build a scrum development team?” for more details.
Tools for effective project planning, execution, and tracking
You need to use the right tools to effectively deliver this project. I recommend the following tools:
- Selenium for test automation which is crucial in iterative development.
- AWS CodeDeploy for build and deployment management.
Please consider using a good PM tool. Asana is a good choice however, you can check our guide “The 10 best Agile project management tools in 2018” for more examples.
The cost of developing a loyalty program app
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There are multiple cost components for the custom development of a loyalty program app. Providers for SDKs/APIs provide their pricing details upon request or display it on their website. MBaaS providers always display their pricing plans on their website.
Your development manpower cost will vary depending on your requirements. Your geography and local labor market also influence it. If you need professional help with this end-to-end development approach, refer to our guide “How to find the best software development company?”.