There’s no industry where the concept of loyalty rings truer than in hospitality – especially for beverage retailers. Think about it: bars live and die on the premise of being a second home for their patrons. But how can this possibly carry over to the e-commerce world, where the clientele primarily orders online or on their phone? I’ll show you the solution using Beer Tokens, Beer Hawk’s omnichannel loyalty program, as an example.
The Challenge of Building a Community
The food & beverage industry is characterized by frequent purchases with a relatively small basket value. This has led to cutthroat competition, so it’s absolutely necessary for brands to convince people to become regulars.
Making an impactful first impression is vital to laying the foundation for a long-lasting commitment, but companies need to keep members hooked with a strategy that rewards all kinds of brand engagements – not just purchases – otherwise people will eventually head for the hills.
To illustrate the effectiveness of such an approach, I’ll use Beer Hawk’s loyalty program as an example. The company has not only seamlessly connected its online and offline stores, but has also introduced innovative features to engage their customers.
Meet the Specialty Beer Retailer
Beer Hawk is the UK’s leading online retailer of specialty beers and ales. It launched in the summer of 2012 and was acquired by AB InBev in 2016. The company now stocks more than 1,000 different beers and has a string of high-street bars, so people can enjoy their beer both in-store and at home.
A Loyalty Program for Beer Lovers
Beer Hawk set out to bridge the gap between its virtual and physical stores so that all customers can enjoy the same experience. The idea was to turn its existing Beer Tokens program into a more comprehensive omnichannel solution while also being able to identify loyalty members both online and in their bars.
The craft beer retailer’s other priorities included having a modular environment that allowed them to reward customer interactions in multiple ways. Lastly, Beer Hawk wanted to build a program flexible enough to integrate with their ecommerce platform and marketing automation solution, Magento and dotdigital.
So Beer Hawk’s loyalty program checklist looked like this:
- Move beyond transactions
- Implement an omnichannel strategy
- Enhance email performance with loyalty data
Beer Tokens Solution #1: Loyalty Mechanics that Go Beyond Transactions
Beer Hawk launched an introductory program with a comprehensive list of features. The company’s loyalty program uses a special point-based currency that resonates with its target audience: Beer Tokens.
The initial launch rewarded customers for purchases as well as non-transactional activities:
- Each £1 spent (online or at the bar) is worth 1 Beer Token
- Purchases, friend referrals, reviews, and empty draft keg returns are rewarded with a set amount of Beer Tokens
- Every Beer Token is converted into a £0.05 discount on the next order
The unique nature of this approach comes from the fact it doesn’t just focus on rewarding purchase transactions. By including innovative elements in the loyalty program such as friend referrals, leaving reviews, and rewarding customers for returning their empty kegs, Beer Hawk has been able to motivate customers to engage in ways that are valuable to their brand.
Beer Tokens Solution #2: A Loyalty Program With Seamless Omnichannel Functionalities
Beer Hawk needed a loyalty platform that allowed customers to earn Beer Tokens for both online and offline purchases.
- Antavo integrated with Beer Hawk’s POS system so that the customer’s Epos Now profile is connected to the newly-created loyalty account.
- Participants receive a digital loyalty card as either a barcode in their beerhawk.com profile’s Loyalty Section or a mobile pass, which can be downloaded and stored in Google Wallet or Apple Pay. Members are now able to use their digital loyalty cards at the bar to earn Beer Tokens with their orders.
Digital loyalty cards are a 21st century way to identify customers – similar to plastic cards, except they are always in your pocket or handbag. These can be updated in real time (i.e. when your account balance changes), and you can stack together multiple digital coupons under one loyalty card.
Beer Tokens Solution #3: Building a Flexible Loyalty Platform That Supports Other Technologies
The loyalty platform needed to integrate perfectly with Beer Hawk’s ecommerce platform and marketing automation solution:
- The loyalty interface is embedded into Beer Hawk’s Magento website, allowing customers to access both services with single sign-on.
- Antavo was integrated with Beer Hawk’s marketing automation solution, dotdigital. All customer loyalty data, such as loyalty status, purchases, and available Beer Tokens, are pushed to Beer Hawk’s dotdigital account in real time, powering up the company’s email campaigns with information that’s up-to-date and personalized.
Use Case: Rewarding In-store Purchases via POS Integration
By uniting the online and offline channels, in-store and online purchase history is stored in one place, so customers can enjoy the same experience no matter where they buy their beer.
- After registration a barcode is assigned to the new loyalty program member, which corresponds to their Loyalty ID. The barcode is displayed on the Loyalty Section of Beer Hawk’s website.
- The customer downloads the digital loyalty card on their smartphone, in a mobile pass format. It’s the same technology that airlines use to provide mobile boarding passes.
- Upon visiting a Beer Hawk bar and ordering a drink, the customer opens up the mobile loyalty pass and the bartender scans it.
- Since the barcode contains the customer’s Loyalty ID, Epos Now looks up the corresponding member profile. At this point, customers have the option to redeem their tokens and receive a discount on their order.
- Following the purchase, Epos Now sends the transaction details, coupled with the customer’s loyalty ID, to Antavo. The correct amount of Beer Tokens is calculated and added to the customer’s balance in real time and is immediately displayed on the customer’s account.
A Fitting Loyalty Solution for Beverage Retailers
Antavo is dedicated to providing next-gen loyalty solutions custom-tailored to help drive your company’s KPIs. If you’re interested in a more detailed breakdown on how we helped Beer Hawk build their omnichannel loyalty program, check out the full case study.
Tamas is a Senior Loyalty Program Specialist at Antavo and a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional - CLMP. Tamas is known for having a keen eye for loyalty and customer retention research and trends. Tamas is also a true gamer at heart and has an impressive collection of cyberpunk books.