The rise of mobile apps has been a true turning point, ushering in an era of convenience and a much-needed boost for many brick-and-mortar stores. Most importantly, mobile applications have enabled businesses to build meaningful relationships with customers, drive repeat sales, and ultimately cement loyalty.
Studies have shown that consumers are increasingly interested in customer loyalty programs and are more likely to join a loyalty program if it is accessible through a mobile app.
As such, a dedicated mobile loyalty program is a powerful tool, capable of far more than incentivizing purchases. Most crucially, it serves as a communication channel, allowing businesses to improve customer experience while continually learning about loyalty members’ needs and preferences, in order to optimize and maximize the value of its product.
In this article, I aim to take a closer look at different mobile loyalty mechanics used in some of the most popular loyalty programs. As we’ll learn, the secret behind their success often lies in the fact that these programs offer a mobile app that remains loyal to the branding of the business or organization, while making use of common loyalty features, e.g. points, coupons and vouchers, rewards catalogs.
Below, you’ll find 7 examples of loyalty mobile apps as inspiration for designing your own loyalty program app. As you will see, the vast majority of the mobile apps listed use a similar configurations of mechanics to provide unique customer experiences.
When designing your own mobile customer loyalty program, you can use some of the most popular features described below and perhaps throw in something truly unique to the mix, to give you an edge over your increasingly crafty competition.
- Mobile loyalty programs continue to be on the rise due to the widespread use of smartphones and the increasing integration of mobile technology across various industries and verticals.
- Consumers are more likely to join a loyalty program if it is accessible through a mobile app.
- Most popular mobile customer loyalty programs are built using standard loyalty mechanics configured so as to meet set goals.
- Thus, you can build your mobile loyalty program using common mechanics and still provide a unique customer experience that resonates with your customer base.
- Only a few programs use an original approach to mobile loyalty customer experiences. There’s a lot of room for innovation in the loyalty space, particularly in the context of harnessing the true potential of loyalty mobile apps for loyalty program success.
7 mobile app features in some of the most popular loyalty programs
Here's a list of loyalty app features providing benefits both for the business and customers.
1. Mobile app: your digital loyalty card identifier
Switching from a loyalty card to a customer loyalty app
Mobile loyalty apps provide a convenient way for customers to engage with a loyalty program directly from their smartphones. Switching from physical loyalty cards and stamp cards to loyalty apps makes customers' lives undeniably easier. They can truly engage with the program, by quickly accessing rewards, tracking their points, redeeming offers, and being able to receive personalized promotions anytime and anywhere.
From a business perspective, loyalty apps generate valuable data about customer behavior, such as preferences, purchase patterns, activation and drop-off rates, and lots more. This data can be analyzed to gain insights into customer trends, which businesses can leverage to refine their marketing strategies, personalize offers, and improve customer satisfaction.
The Starbucks® app in the Starbucks® Rewards program
The Starbucks® app allows users to order ahead for scheduled pickup, scan and pay in-store and customize their favorites. Rewards make up a key element of the coffee chain’s loyalty app, allowing members to earn “Stars” towards free drinks and food purchased during subsequent visits.
Learn more on the The Starbucks® app website.
2. Scan & earn: collecting QR codes on Pampers packs
Mobile app feature: scan & earn
The "scan & earn" mechanics in mobile loyalty apps involve customers scanning specific item, QR codes, or barcodes to earn rewards and in-app currency, such as points. This mechanism utilizes the camera functionality of smartphones to scan and capture information, which is then conveyed to the loyalty program and rewards system.
For businesses, such mechanics helps drive engagement and enhance customer interactions, as customers actively participate in scanning activities. It also enables businesses to collect valuable data about customer behavior, product preferences, and purchase patterns.
For customers, scan & earn mechanics provides a gamified experience, making the loyalty program more interactive and enjoyable. It allows them to earn rewards or points in a tangible and immediate way, encouraging continued participation and loyalty.
Scan & earn in Pampers Club mobile loyalty program
The first loyalty program is from Pampers, an American brand of baby and toddler products marketed by Procter & Gamble. Pampers is the #2 diaper brand worldwide, with a revenue of about $19.74 billion in 2022 (source: Zippia).
The Pampers Club loyalty program is designed to support a certain type of member, e.g. expecting and current parents of babies up to 36 months. The loyalty scheme is available both on the website and within the the Pampers Club app. Customers get access to 14+ interactive tools, club rewards, as well as educational content in the form of expert advice and practical tips for parents. expert
Club Rewards uses scan & earn. It’s a 3 step process where members:
- Scan QR codes found on Pampers packs, via the app.
- Earn instant Pampers Cash, sent directly to the in-app balance.
- Redeem Rewards from the app's catalog of discounts and offers.
Learn more at the official Pampers Club website.
3. Loyalty rewards catalog: redeeming free snacks and goodies at 7-Eleven
Mobile app feature: loyalty rewards catalog
The loyalty rewards catalog allows customers to browse and redeem rewards and benefits offered by the loyalty program. It provides a digital catalog and a marketplace, providing an overview of the available rewards, and information on how to redeem their earned loyalty points or rewards currency.
The loyalty rewards catalog mechanics aim to provide customers with a wide range of enticing rewards and benefits, enhancing their engagement and loyalty to the brand. The catalog also serves as a platform for businesses to showcase their offerings and create additional value for their customers beyond the core products or services they provide.
Loyalty rewards catalog in the 7REWARDS loyalty program
7-ELEVEn is a multinational chain of retail convenience stores, headquartered in Irving, Texas, United States. The chain was founded in 1927 as an ice house storefront in Dallas. It operates, franchises, and licenses 78,029 stores in 19 countries and territories, as of November 2021.
7REWARDS and the 7-Eleven app lets customers enjoy savings on exclusive deals, earn points with every qualifying purchase and redeem those points on member rewards like free snacks and drinks, and also find their nearest store.
Learn more on the 7REWARDS loyalty program website.
4. Loyalty coupons: receiving weekly Lidl treats
Mobile app feature: loyalty coupons
The loyalty coupons mechanics involves the distribution and redemption of digital coupons as part of a loyalty program. These coupons are specifically designed to incentivize and reward customers for their loyalty and encourage them to make purchases, encourage repeat business, and provide an added sense of value and exclusivity. Additionally, coupons can be used to track customer behavior and preferences, allowing businesses to gather data and insights to further refine their loyalty program strategies.
Loyalty coupons in the Lidl Plus loyalty program
Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG is a German international discount retailer chain that operates over 12,000 stores across Europe and the United States. There are Lidl stores in every member state of the European Union as well as in Serbia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Lidl Plus is a loyalty mobile app that offers benefits like weekly coupons, digital scratch cards, digital loyalty card, digital receipts, store finders, and digital product newsletters featuring top deals.
Lidl Treats - in-app loyalty coupons to activate and redeem in store every week. You browse through the loyalty platform and activate coupons you like. Then, you scan your Lidl Plus in-app card at the checkout and receive instant savings, in addition to receiving future notifications informing you of deals you may be interested in.
Learn more on the Lidl Plus loyalty program website.
5. Dynamically generated tiers: leveling up with adiClub
Mobile app feature: dynamically generated tiers
The tiers mechanic in mobile loyalty apps refers to a system where customers are placed into different tiers or “levels” as part of loyalty program membership based on their engagement, spending, or other predefined criteria. These tiers provide varying levels of benefits, rewards, and privileges to customers, encouraging them to continue to engage with the brand, ultimately cementing their loyalty and engagement with the brand.
Dynamically generated tiers in the adiClub loyalty program
Adidas AG is a German athletic apparel and footwear corporation headquartered in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, Germany. It is the largest sportswear manufacturer in Europe, and the second largest in the world, after Nike. Adidas's revenue for 2018 was listed at €21.915 billion.
With the adiClub Rewards program, members earn points through actions such as completing their profile, making purchases, leaving reviews, and active usage. Customers enter giveaways, discover members-only products or swap points for savings.
The program is made up of a 4-tier membership structure, with each tier (level) offering a set of benefits and rewards that are progressively more valuable as customers move up the structure.
Learn more on the adiClub Rewards program.
6. Trackable achievements: earning points at Chubbies
Mobile app feature: trackable achievements
The achievements mechanic in mobile loyalty apps involve setting goals or milestones for customers to achieve within the loyalty program. These goals are often tied to specific actions, behaviors, or spending thresholds, and provide customers with additional rewards or benefits when they successfully complete them.
This loyalty app feature aims to provide customers with additional motivation and a sense of accomplishment. By setting goals and rewarding customers for their efforts, these mechanics enhance customer engagement, loyalty, and ongoing participation in the loyalty program.
Trackable achievements in the Chubbies Rewards program
Chubbies, or Chubbies Shorts, is a San Francisco-based online clothing brand that focuses primarily on men's short shorts and swim trucks. Since the apparel brand's founding in 2011, Chubbies has grown net sales from $2.4 million in 2012 to $44.1 million in 2020, representing a compound annual growth rate of 43.8 percent.
Chubbies Rewards is the loyalty program where members earn points every time they shop or complete a goal, and redeem points for exclusive discounts.
The achievements vary from creating an account, first purchase from a specific collection, to liking the company profile on Facebook or leaving a review.
Learn more on the Chubbies Rewards program.
7. OCR (Optical Character Recognition): snapping receipts in e.l.f. Beauty Squad
Mobile app feature: OCR (Optical Character Recognition)
The OCR (Optical Character Recognition) mechanics in mobile loyalty apps involve the use of technology to extract and process text information from images or documents captured by smartphone cameras. This functionality enables the app to automatically recognize and extract relevant data, such as barcodes, QR codes, receipts, or other textual information, to enhance the user experience and streamline processes within the loyalty program.
OCR (Optical Character Recognition) in e.l.f. Beauty Squad
e.l.f. Cosmetics is an American cosmetics brand based in Oakland, California founded in 2004. Items include bath and skin-care products, mineral-based makeup, professional tools, eyeliners, lipstick, glosses, blushes, etc.
e.l.f. Beauty Squad is a loyalty program with major rewards and surprises for every e.l.f. fan. Beauty Squad members earn points for any e.l.f. Cosmetics purchase and a variety of other activities.
With the e.l.f. Cosmetics & Skincare app customers can earn points for any e.l.f. Cosmetics purchase made at a retailer by uploading a photo of your receipt or online order confirmation.
Learn more on the e.l.f. Beauty Squad website.
Design your own mobile loyalty program
Now is the perfect time to implement mobile loyalty programs to incentivize and reward customer loyalty.
As you will have seen from the above-listed examples, a mobile loyalty app can truly go a long way in helping your loyalty program thrive.
With an attractive loyalty proposition in tow, a considered selection of loyalty mechanics, polished app interface, and - most importantly - a nuance 360-view of the customer, a mobile application can help take your business to new heights.
And if you’re only getting started, there’s no need to go big right away. Smaller, but measured, steps involving using one or two loyalty mechanics to start with will also suffice. After all, the idea isn’t to jampack your loyalty app with features for the sake of features. Instead, any such developments always need to revolve around the customer and the value they can derive from your app, so the experiences you create genuinely resonate.
Helping you build customer journeys that not only engage even the most fussy customers, keeping competitors at bay, but also
If you want to get inspired by brands like Pampers, Starbucks, Tchibo, or H&M download our Top 10 loyalty mobile apps benchmarking study: Top 10 mobile loyalty applications.
Also check the complete guide dedicated to planning, setting up and launching a successful loyalty program prepared by loyalty experts: Loyalty program implementation: checklist and good practices.