Traditional differentiators between retailers such as price, location, or product service may no longer deliver a competitive edge, according to Loyalty Now, but deploying an open ecosystem, frictionless, card-linked loyalty program can help merchants maintain a competitive advantage.

“Merchants that could once rely on proximity or competitive costs to win new business are now looking to engage with their clientele more deeply and on a personalised level, Loyalty Now CEO, Cary Lockwood said.

“The consumer of 2021 is more informed than ever before because so much information is available online, letting them more easily research product features and compare prices, pitting competitors against one another for business.

“This means it is imperative that merchants look to add an extra level of service or personalisation to encourage customers to remain loyal. This can come not just through the in-store experience, but also through the ongoing relationship that tailored loyalty and rewards programs can help build.”

Lockwood provides five key reasons merchants should consider robust loyalty programs:

1.        Provide a personalised experience
Generic offers can deliver mixed results, with some shoppers choosing to not take advantage of deals presented as they see no value in the transaction. Open ecosystem loyalty systems reward the shopper not only in store, but also online as their account credit can be spread across participating organisations.

2.        Gather valuable data
Digital loyalty operations also reward business owners by collating valuable real-time data from consumers. This data can inform everything from impending marketing campaigns to key shopping periods and promotional sale feedback. Having access to data direct from consumers can let merchants tailor offerings on the go.

3.        Increase efficiency
A card-linked, frictionless loyalty option reduces the effort on the customer’s part, thus increasing their chances of participation. When consumers don’t need an extra card or app to complete the transaction, they are much more open to joining these programs and actively claiming benefits.

4.        Entice new clientele
Card-linked solutions should be bank- and card-agnostic, meaning that any shopper can become part of the existing rewards program. Having such a low barrier to entry further simplifies the process and brings in new shoppers that may not have considered joining previously.

5.        Merge the retail and e-commerce experience
Both e-commerce and bricks-and-mortar retailers can benefit from a digital loyalty program underpinned by an open ecosystem. Using these systems to dictate virtual and in-person offers and discounts can create a more cohesive omni-channel shopping experience and encourage consumers to shop across in-store and online channels.