Show Your Customers Some Love
And Keep Them Coming Back with a Loyalty Reward Program
Don’t you just love the thrill of a good deal?
Who doesn’t like saving a little money these days?
As a consumer yourself, you know one of the easiest ways to earn some extra savings is with a loyalty reward program. Whether you’re collecting stars or points, you’re always a purchase closer to getting something free.
As a retailer, there are so many things for you to love about a loyalty reward program too. It is super simple, requiring everyday tools such as your basic hole puncher or a few keystrokes into your computer. It is cost effective, with little to no expenses to operate. And it generates returning customers, giving them incentive to buy from you…repeatedly.
During a slow selling season or while people are still reluctant to shop in stores, a rewards program is an easy way to entice your known customers to walk back through your door.
In the Christian retail industry, there are a few companies who provide the services to help you launch your own loyalty reward program. The following are some of the options CRA retailers are using:
If you have a POS system, you likely already have the ability to create a loyalty reward program. For Bookstore Manager users, this is included with your regular monthly data fee and is very easy to customize. You can set it up based on the number of visits or dollars spent, and then you can choose how much to reward your customer. For other POS systems, this may be a feature you can add on for an additional monthly fee. With Square, the cost for a customer loyalty program starts at $45 per month. Then it’s as simple as using a customer’s phone number to sign him up, send automated texts and apply rewards.
The Fivestars program is a digital rewards program that automatically sends your customers targeted offers, or helps you create custom promotions, and gives your customers points and rewards for their purchases. When you set up the Fivestars program, you decide the rewards that will be offered. According to their website, you can join Fivestars for as low as $0 per month.
Kim Burns of Living Room in Bastrop, TX, has been using Fivestars since 2017. “We use the Fivestars program because we wanted a way to reward those customers who frequently shop with us,” Kim says.
we wanted a way to reward those customers who frequently shop with us
According to Kim, the Fivestars program works by having the customer type his phone number on the Fivestars tablet, which becomes the customer’s user ID number. The customer can then either download the app or choose to receive messages via text or email. “It has been a good way to send out special deals to those who shop with us most,” Kim shares.
“Because the system will automatically send out the messages, we often have customers come back to redeem rewards before they expire,” Kim explains. Kim says that their store has control over the different rewards the customers can redeem with their points. With their program, they offer one point per dollar spent.
“When Fivestars approached us for a demonstration, I was not really interested,” Kim admits. “But when I saw how easy it was to use, I WAS SOLD! Because of the cost to use this program, we have had to cut back on other promotions or advertising we would normally do. We feel the benefit is worth the cost because customers are coming back to shop with us.”
The 6-Box Program is a simple customer loyalty program endorsed by Bob Negan of WhizBang! Retail Training. This program works by using an index card with the customer’s name at the top and six boxes drawn or printed on it. When the customer makes a purchase in your store, the amount gets written into one of the boxes. Once each box is filled (i.e. after six purchases), the customer receives a store credit for 10% of the total purchases on their card. The style of the cards, storing of the cards and percentage of store credit is completely up to the retailer. The only cost is the paper and storage for the cards.
Lori Bowdoin from Blessings: A Christian Store in Prattville, AL, has customized their own 6-Box Program using colored card stock and an alphabetized system. According to Lori, they have a template on their computer, so all they do is print the template on a letter-sized sheet of card stock and cut it down to 4"×6" cards. “You could literally make it any size you want, just consider how they will be stored,” Lori adds.
At Lori’s store, the cards are stored in a drawer in their cash wrap. They created their own index card tabs to alphabetize them, because over time they had to break down some letters into smaller groups since there were so many.
“We use a slightly modified version of WhizBang’s 6-Box Program,” Lori explains. “Our primary modification is that we pull the cards for the customers rather than having them pull their card. We make sure they see it though! We capture all their contact information on the card, then enter it in our database later when convenient. I think they are more comfortable giving us all their information (though it isn’t required) when they see all the other customer cards in the drawer.”
While this program rewards the number of purchases, it also encourages the amount of the purchases. “Our customers love the visual of seeing the card as it fills up, and knowing they have a reward coming soon,” Lori says. “Many customers say they are going to use the reward to treat themselves!”
Lori has also taken this program to the next level. With a certain number of purchases, the customer becomes a VIP, and the color of their card changes. “We offer some special perks for our VIP’s, like calling them in advance of special sales and events or giving them a special tote during our Christmas open house,” Lori shares.
“During the early shutdowns, we sent handwritten notes to our VIP’s, checking in with them and letting them know our plans, mentioning the alternate ways they could still ‘shop,’” she says. We were surprised at how appreciative they were to get the notes!”
Lori says that the cards also serve as a great visual for their employees. Even new employees can recognize a frequent shopper from the color of their reward card. “It’s a fun program for our customers and staff, and I think the visual element strongly contributes to that,” Lori says.
DAYSPRING LOYALTY CARD
The DaySpring loyalty card is a punch card system that was created by DaySpring to help retailers increase greeting card sales and attract repeat customers. The Nine & One loyalty reward program encourages customers to purchase nine DaySpring cards in order to receive the tenth card free. DaySpring provides retailers with a promotional kit that includes signage and a package of 200 cards. As part of the program, for every free tenth card a retailer gives away, DaySpring credits your store with a reimbursement of 75-cents.
Lorraine Valk of Parable Christian Store of St. Joseph and Hallmark Gold Crown Store has been using the DaySpring loyalty cards “forever.” At their store, customers receive one punch per individual card purchased. And she limits the value of the free card to $2.99 retail.
“Customers love it,” Lorraine says. As a retailer, Lorraine loves it too. Since customers keep track of their own card, she says, “It’s little risk to us and easy to use!”
As an independent Christian retailer, you can also create your own loyalty reward program. Here are just three examples of what your fellow retailers are doing.
Goodruby Gives Back
Ken Locklin of Goodruby Christian Bookstore in Casa Grande, AZ, developed “Goodruby Gives Back” as a way for customers to support their local bookstore and their local church. Ken explains that when a customer checks out, they ask the customer what church he attends. If the church is already part of the program, then 5% of every purchase associated with that church is donated to the church every quarter. If a church isn’t part of the program, Ken says it gives him a chance to talk to the pastor. Ken gives the customer two business cards with a 10% off coupon on them, explaining that one is for them and the other is for their pastor. He asks the customer to have the pastor come in, call or email so that he can explain the program. When he talks to the pastor, Ken says the only thing he asks is how the church wants to receive the donation. There are no other requirements; however, he does share that they can create a bulletin insert with the store information to share with their congregation.
“The customers are excited because money they were going to spend anyway now supports a local business AND their church,” Ken says. “And we have a referral network that just keeps expanding, with no upfront costs. . . It is the most successful advertising campaign we have tried so far!”
Mindy VanDyke from Stepping Stones Christian Bookstores in Iowa uses a punch card system, creating her own cards. Customers receive a hole punch for each book or Bible they purchase at regular price (over $8). They can receive multiple hole punches per purchase if the items qualify. After 10 punches, customers receive the eleventh item free, up to $15.00 and not valid on special orders or sale priced. Once a year, all participants are also entered into a drawing for a gift certificate. Mindy says this system is a reward for customers purchasing in her store rather than on Amazon, who is not giving free products in return for consistent customer purchases.
Donna McCollough at Dove Christian Supply in Dothan, AL, encourages customers to join their mailing list or give their contact information to receive benefits. When Donna gets a customer’s phone number and enters it into her POS system for a transaction, it tracks their purchases. And when the customer reaches $150 in purchases over a minimum of two visits, they get a coupon for 20% off their next regular priced purchase of $25 or more, valid for 30 days. CRA