The global market for loyalty management is growing, and so is the spread of loyalty apps. If you are an entrepreneur planning to launch a loyalty app, then you should note that this is a highly competitive market. Your loyalty app should stand out, therefore, you need the right ideas. In this article, I describe the top 10 loyalty apps of 2019, so that you can get those great ideas.
An overview of the market for loyalty apps
Loyalty programs are truly in demand! The following statistics illustrate this:
- 87% of gen Z consumers want reward points for visiting a brand’s store, a restaurant, etc.
- This generation is quite willing to pay a premium to receive perks like free shipping, as 77% of gen Z consumers reported.
- 82% of gen X customers participate in at least one loyalty program, and 77% of them redeem their rewards at least once in a quarter.
Read more about this in “CrowdTwist consumer loyalty study shows 87% of gen Z consumers want omnichannel loyalty programs”.
From the perspective of a business, the importance of a loyalty program is pretty obvious! Consider the following statistics, to understand this better:
- An average American business loses 15% of its customers every year!
- 68% of millennials indicate they need a loyalty program to keep buying a brand.
- The cumulative loss to businesses due to customer churn is estimated to be a staggering $1.6 trillion per annum!
- New customer acquisition can cost 16 times more than retaining customers.
- 54% of consumers do repeat business with a company that offers loyalty points.
You can read more about this in “32 loyalty program statistics that will make you rethink marketing”.
Given this, it’s not surprising that the loyalty management market will likely grow at a phenomenal 23.3% CAGR, and the value of this market will reach $9.28 billion in 2024 from $2.617 billion in 2018. “Loyalty management market – growth, trends and forecasts (2019-2024)”, a market research report has more insights into this market.
Features of successful loyalty apps
Successful loyalty apps offer the following features:
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- Such apps have a compelling rewards structure.
- They offer unique ways in customers can earn and spend loyalty points.
- Successful loyalty apps have distinct tiers to reward higher-spending customers, and these tiers feature exclusive rewards. Read more about this in “Best in class loyalty program features to emulate in 2019”.
- Best apps in this category make it easy for customers to sign-up.
- These apps display relevant offers, merchants, stores, and seamlessly integrate various offers.
- Such apps also deliver personalized offers.
- Great loyalty apps have excellent security features, and they provide clear micro-copy to help customers.
- They create a natural flow of actions in the app.
- Loyalty apps should allow social sharing, moreover, they need push notifications to increase customer engagement.
Read more about these features in “Features of a great loyalty app user interface”.
A brief overview of the top 10 loyalty apps
Let’s look at the most popular and most downloaded apps in the loyalty segment, which are as follows:
1. Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW)
A highly popular loyalty app, Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW) is available on Android and iOS. Its successful loyalty program has the following characteristics:
- It has succeeded consistently, with a simple loyalty program rewarding customers with points for their purchases.
- The company has tiers of rewards, therefore, consumers spending more get higher rewards.
- DSW runs its loyalty program seamlessly.
- The mobile app integrates loyalty, offers, and shopping in a manner that makes it one of the best apps in this segment.
- App users can locate DSW stores using the app, moreover, they can access a clearance calculator.
- Tracking the rewards points is easy with this app.
- If customers can’t find a particular shoe with their size in a store, they can scan the product barcode and search in the company’s website.
- The DSW loyalty program is highly personalized, moreover, the company proactively engages its customers.
2. Sephora’s “Beauty Insider”
A great example of a successful loyalty program, Sephora’s “Beauty Insider” is available both on iOS and Android. The key features of this app are as follows:
- A traditional points system rewards customers for each purchase they make.
- It’s one of the most downloaded apps in the loyalty app category, and the membership figures grew from 17 million in 2016, to 25 million in 2018. That’s a staggering 47% growth in just 2 years! Read “Going head-to-head in beauty retailing: A comparison of Sephora and Ulta” to learn about this impressive growth.
- The app integrates really well with the company’s stores and its website.
- This mobile app integrates even with the retail stores Sephora has inside JCPenny.
- An easy-to-use yet appealing UI is a big advantage of this app.
- Loyalty program members can redeem their points for gift cards, discounts, etc.
- Members can also redeem their points for in-store beauty tutorials and other exclusive products.
- Sephora offers a wide range of deals and offers to their loyalty program members through this app, and they engage their customers well.
3. Starbucks App
At a time when running loyalty programs using a mobile app was still a novelty, the Starbucks App had established itself as a trailblazer. There are several reasons for the success of the Starbucks loyalty app, and these are as follows:
- The app does really well in terms of digital engagement. Industry observers found that the Starbucks App is the most popular loyalty app among major restaurant chains. You can read a detailed analysis in “The success of Starbucks App: A case study”.
- The UI is highly user-friendly.
- The Starbucks loyalty rewards program is truly a market leader.
- Users find it really easy to order and pay online, with the Starbucks App.
- The company has integrated the app very well with other platforms and services, e.g., Spotify.
- App users can easily track their reward points.
- Signing up with the rewards program is easy with this app, moreover, customers can easily the nearest Starbucks store using this app.
As such, Amazon doesn’t need an introduction. An analysis of great loyalty apps will remain incomplete without describing the loyalty program of Amazon. The Amazon app is available on Android, moreover, it’s there on iOS too.
The following are the distinct characteristics of Amazon’s loyalty program:
- Considering Amazon operates in a highly competitive segment where other giant retailers like Walmart also operate, Amazon must differentiate. They do so with their “Prime membership program”.
- Amazon “Prime” members pay a flat annual fee and get access to exclusive features like unlimited free shipping. They can also access the Amazon streaming service and other exclusive offers. Analysts found that Amazon’s program works really well, as prime members spend 4 times more than other Amazon customers.
- The Amazon app is easy-to-use, secure, and comprehensive. Customers from all over the world can use one single app and Amazon in their geography services the requests.
- Tracking the prime membership rewards is really easy with the app, and Amazon engages its customers well.
5. The North Face
Following are the key features of this program:
- Customers can earn traditional reward points for their purchases when they are part of the VIPeak program. They can also earn them by attending The North Face events, or by downloading its mobile app.
- The North Face intends to connect to its customers by appealing to their spirit of adventure. VIPeak members can use their loyalty points for meeting expenses for mountain climbing trips. This is quite different from generic discounts and offers since it directly taps into the love for adventures like mountain climbing.
- The app has an appealing UI, moreover, it makes shopping, check-out, checking rewards history, etc. easy.
- The North Face app focuses heavily on personalized content. For e.g., app users planning a mountain climbing trip can check out the weather forecast, they can locate the nearest store, etc.
6. REI Co-op:
REI, the retailer in outdoor gears has a very unique differentiator, and the company has been pretty successful with their loyalty program. At the heart of its success with its loyalty program lies its deep understanding of its customers.
The company has been selling outdoor gears since 1938, and it had started as a co-operative, i.e., a company owned by its customers. Their loyalty program focuses on this experience of customers owning the company.
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They offer a lifetime REI co-op membership for only $20! With that, they offer annual dividends, moreover, their customers can access exclusive offers. REI lifetime co-op members get 10% cashback on all purchases, furthermore, they can take advantages of “garage sells” with significant discounts.
The company also provides outdoor-oriented experiences to the REI lifetime co-op members, e.g., members can get discounts on adventure classes. The shopping app from REI is available on Android as well as iOS, and it integrates well with the loyalty program.
App users benefit from the ease-of-use. They can check out offers and products, moreover, the app makes shopping easy. REI has other apps too, e.g., one for national parks, another for hiking projects, etc. You can check out the REI mobile apps here.
Gilt, the online fashion, and accessories retailer runs a well-designed loyalty program. The company has an Android app, in addition to an iOS app, and the mobile app integrates very well with the loyalty program.
The features of its loyalty program are as follows:
- Gilt conducts its loyalty program entirely online.
- The loyalty program members can earn points when they purchase from Gilt.
- They can redeem their points when purchasing later, moreover, they get extra discounts.
- The members of the Gilt loyalty program can get free shipping, furthermore, they have early access to the sales the company launches.
- Gilt proactively engages its customers as part of its loyalty program.
- The mobile app has an engaging UI, and it provides relevant content regarding products and offers.
Everybody knows Nike, and any discussion on loyalty apps must include the Nike partnership program. A very unique program, this loyalty scheme fits well with Nike’s professed objective of helping athletes achieve success.
Nike’s loyalty program offers its members benefits that are geared to the success of athletes. For e.g., members can benefit from Nike’s partnership with Classpass, a fitness studio.
Another example is Nike’s partnership with Headspace, and the loyalty program members of Nike can benefit from this by learning meditation. Nike’s customers benefit from these partnerships and Nike’s products in their athletic quests, and that drives their loyalty towards Nike.
You can check out the mobile apps of Nike here, and they offer both iOS and Android apps. In addition to the ease of shopping, the Nike mobile apps work well to serve its loyalty program members.
9. Barnes & Noble
Famous book retailer Barnes & Noble has a paid loyalty program, and the company offers enough value to their customers to justify it. The loyalty program of Barnes & Noble is called “VIP program”, and members pay $25 a year to join it.
The loyalty program offers attractive discounts, free shipping, and other benefits. Barnes & Noble has an iOS app, which makes shopping easy for customers. The app users can browse books of different categories and best seller lists. They can locate stores and buy online, moreover, the app integrates well with the loyalty program.
10. The Body Shop
“The Body Shop” offers a unique value to their loyalty program members! This manufacturer of body and beauty care products taps into the deeper value systems of their customers and creates a shared value around the protection of animals and the environment.
Their loyalty program members can earn rewards and get exclusive benefits, furthermore, they can choose to donate their rewards to “Born Free USA”, a noted charity organization for animal welfare. Environmentally conscious customers can also donate reward points to the USA’s “National Parks Conservation Association” (NPCA).
The Body Shop’s iOS app makes shopping easy for customers, moreover, it helps to keep track of reward points. Members can keep themselves up-to-date about special offers, thanks to the push notifications feature of the app. Shoppers can easily locate stores, and view product lists on the app.
Planning to launch a loyalty app for your business?
The apps I described above can certainly offer great ideas, and you will likely understand the features you should offer in your loyalty app. However, developing such an app could be a complex project, in addition to being a project of strategic importance to your business. Consider getting help from a development partner, and read our guide “How to find the best software development company?” before you engage one.
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