loyalty program
Happy couple at a store holding a loyalty card to enjoy special benefits. Design of loyalty card is own design.


Shopping expert and author of Shopping Confessions, Kathy Sheeran, knows a thing or two about loyalty programs.

A few years ago, Sheeran found herself with a wallet stuffed full of retail loyalty cards that she never used. “I was signed up to everything,” she told Retailbiz. “It was out of control.”

Deciding something needed to be done, Sheeran narrowed down her loyalty cards to just four. So how did she decide which ones to keep? To be a loyalty program customers actually want to use, Sheeran said it needs to be convenient, easy to use and achievable. Here are her tips for making sure your program ticks all the boxes.

Make it achievable

Having a loyalty program is extremely important, said Sheeran, because it can boost your bottom line, your reputation and help with vital market research. However, it should also help your customers.

“Not all loyalty programs are created equal. You need to make them achievable. Customers don’t want to have to spend a ridiculous amount of money.”

Sheeran pointed to Priceline, which has just launched an improved version of its loyalty program, as an example of what to do.

“Priceline has three tiers based on a customer’s spend…To qualify for rewards, there’s a minimum spend of only $100 a quarter, which is achievable if you’re buying your health and beauty products.

“Aside from monetary benefits you can also receive products and birthday vouchers.”

Look after your VIPs

“It’s one thing to get someone to sign up to your program, but you shouldn’t take your VIPs for granted,” said Sheeran.

“Customer service is the key to keeping customers loyal… It can take businesses years to build a good reputation but just 30 seconds to destroy it.”

In order to look after your VIPs, Sheeran said you need to make them feel special. “For example, don’t send out emails implying there is an exclusive sale for VIPs to get them in-store, only to have them turn up and realise it’s for everybody.

“It’s more than having someone just sign up with their details—you then need to look after the customer.”

Listen to your list

The customers who have signed up to your loyalty program can provide valuable insights into your business, which you can use to improve both your store as a whole and your loyalty offering.

“One advantage of having people sign up is that you get more info,” said Sheeran. “You get an insight into what they’re buying, how much they’re spending…and it’s a good way to send out surveys.

“It’s a bit like mystery shopping—you can ask these loyal customers questions relevant to your store. In retail, research is key.”


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