As the retail market continues to evolve, the pursuit of consumer loyalty intensifies. An exponential increase in digital touchpoints means businesses must adapt to ensure they remain at the forefront of innovation. With the drive towards digitisation, companies must ensure they invest in supporting tools and technologies that let them continue to deliver frictionless customer experiences both in store and online. 

Modern customers increasingly expect convenience at every turn, and payment-linked loyalty—where rewards are automatically applied at the point of sale (POS)—are representative of this new era. However, not every digital loyalty program will meet the unique needs of each business, so it’s important to look for a flexible solution, instead of a one-size-fits-all promise, according to Loyalty Now. 

Payment-linked loyalty streamlines the user experience while giving businesses the opportunity to gather invaluable transactional insights, which can be used to fine-tune offerings, ensuring customers receive relevant, timely, tailored incentives. 

However, while data-driven insights are essential to remain competitive in the modern retail landscape, the ideal digital, card-linked loyalty and rewards program should offer more benefits than access to data alone for retailers.

Achieving this ensures that businesses gain access to a program that goes beyond data, delivering a solution that considers the business’s specific needs, and that of its consumers, to provide a loyalty program that maps to the customer and business relationship.

For the best results, companies should consider payment-linked loyalty programs that offer: 

  • Comprehensive security: amid escalating cyber threats and an evolving threat landscape, data protection remains a paramount concern and businesses must be vigilant. As organisations collect and analyse vast amounts of transactional data, it is imperative that this information is kept secure, and businesses must invest in the latest security protocols and ensure rigorous compliance. Loyalty solutions that are Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)-compliant are essential to help maintain the trust and confidence of consumers. 
  • Payment agnosticism: the diverse landscape of payment methods—from different cards, banks, and digital wallets—each with its unique protocols and requirements, can be a challenge. The true power lies in being versatile, in being attuned to the myriad ways customers choose to transact and engage with brands. Loyalty programs that are scheme agnostic and not confined to a single mode of payment deliver flexibility and inclusivity for consumers. This lets businesses reach a wider demographic, encompassing varied spending habits and preferences. 
  • Demonstrated experience: businesses should look for loyalty program providers who have demonstrated experience in leading complex programs to success. A seasoned provider can navigate challenges, anticipate shifts in consumer behaviour, and innovate proactively. Such expertise is invaluable in creating a loyalty program that resonates, evolves, and delivers consistent value for consumers and merchants alike. 
  • Frictionless retail experiences: with the rise of eCommerce, it’s impossible for brands not to ignore the value of a seamless instore and online experience, and loyalty programs must reflect this changing landscape. A fragmented approach can lead to disjointed customer experiences, potentially eroding loyalty. Successful loyalty programs should seamlessly integrate both offline and online experiences, giving consumers a unified experience that ensures continuity, fosters a sense of familiarity and trust, and keeps brands at the forefront of their minds. 
  • Direct connection: loyalty programs that directly integrate with merchants and merchant aggregators  pave the way for richer insights, personalised offers, and a smoother overall experience. This ensures near real-time updates, personalised offers, and an enriched consumer journey that minimises layers and results in quicker decisions and more tailored offers.  

The pursuit of loyalty in today’s digital age requires the careful consideration of technology, strategy, and customer understanding. As businesses traverse this evolving landscape, it’s clear that a thoughtful approach to loyalty and rewards programs can foster lasting relationships and unlock untapped potential.

Businesses are pressed to remain innovative, constantly adapting to changing consumer behaviours and expectations. Customer behaviours need to be considered in tandem with business objectives, as well as the changing industry landscape. This has highlighted the need for a well-considered choice in loyalty and rewards programs.

Anurag Vasisth is co-chair and group CEO at Loyalty Now.