Loyalty Programs in Grocery & Food and Beverage: A Comprehensive Guide

A deep dive into the world of food & beverage and grocery loyalty programs, sharing key trends and best practices in the 21st century.

The cover image of Antavo's Food And Beverage Loyalty Programs Guide

Over tha past few years, various crises have shaken the world to its core. During the pandemic fashion, apparel & luxury retailers were in a tough spot, trying to maintain contact with their loyal customers while other industries, like grocery retail and food & beverage, saw a spike in demand. However, the economic downturn may flip the tables once again, as food prices are soaring, and customers become more price-conscious with their food & beverage spending. As either a grocery retailer or a business specializing in food & beverages, you are probably doing your best to adapt to the new situation. A food and beverage loyalty program is one way to continue engaging with customers both old and new, but where can you start? Which features will help you stand out? What are the best examples on the market right now? This guide aims to answer all of these questions, showing you how next-gen food loyalty program can help move any of your business KPIs. 

Key Takeaways — TL; DR

  • During the crises, groceries and food and beverage brands need to realize or revamp specialized loyalty programs
  • Companies need to gear the loyalty program to solve their unique needs and challenges
  • A good loyalty program aids the company in connecting the customer as much as rewarding them
  • There are 10 different loyalty program examples that could provide inspiration

What Are Grocery & Food and Beverage Loyalty Programs?

Loyalty programs for food delivery companies, supermarket chains or online beer retailers are fundamentally different from what you have come to expect in other industries. For example, discount coupons aren’t the biggest draw-ins. Customers tend to engage more with free treats, complimentary delivery and branded gift items, like a stylish coffee mug. At the same time, as groceries are the top industry in which customers are willing to pay for a premium loyalty membership. It is likely that subscription or paid loyalty programs will be the next new hit in this regard.

When designing food and beverage loyalty programs or grocery store reward programs companies should focus on three major aspects: 

  1. Give people the freedom of choice, so they can pick the rewards they want from a wide list of incentives
  2. Make members work harder for the most attractive and valuable rewards
  3. Being omnichannel is no longer an advantage, but rather a necessity, so be sure to offer the same smooth experience on all platforms

Launching a loyalty program can help to win back your customers through value added benefits and, where relevant, meal discounts. The real power will come over time building up your customer data to understand who your most loyal and frequent visitors are, ensuring you can communicate to them and offer value-added services should there be further disruption in 2022.

Sheila Power
Chief Sales Officer at Antavo

The Biggest Challenges for Groceries and Food & Beverage Companies in Terms of Customer Retention?

These industries are characterized by small yet frequent purchases and cutthroat competition.

  • Maintaining regular contact with customers is great: loyalty members have more opportunity to earn points or level up to a new tier. 
  • On the other hand, without a sense of true brand loyalty, these customers are at risk of churning after a single bad experience. 
  • Once customers set their sight on an incentive they consider valuable, for instance a high-quality set of cooking utensils, they’ll be emotionally invested in obtaining it, sticking faithfully to your brand in the process. 
  • Another prevalent issue for grocery store chains and food & beverage industries is that it’s hard to have a unified customer profile if customers are alternating between online and offline purchases without a means to connect them. 
  • Companies often feel the need to change the structure or the rules of food loyalty programs because some rewards become too popular to sustain.

Changing customer progression is always a risky move. If you’re determined to change the rewards, make sure to properly segment your members, to identify price-sensitive customers. Furthermore, pay attention to proper communication and highlight possible alternatives, such as the ability to earn points with non-purchase related activities.

If you wish to truly stand out in the eyes of customers, this Mission: Loyalty video might provide the necessary inspiration.

Top Loyalty Program Features for Groceries and Food & Beverage Companies

With the key priorities set in place, here are several features required to run a grocery reward program or a food and beverage loyalty program.

1. Identifying Customers

Physical loyalty cards

In terms of customer identification, it all started with traditional plastic grocery store loyalty cards, which people kept in their wallets and handbags. The cashier scanned the customer’s card with a POS device, and boom, that customer left a footprint in the store.

It’s a tried-and-tested feature that customers are familiar with, but more than likely they already have plenty of other plastic cards competing for space in their wallets, so this approach isn’t a very unique one.

Tesco has a physical loyalty card, and offers a smaller card, which can be attached to the customer’s key ring.
Tesco has a physical loyalty card, and offers a smaller card, which can be attached to the customer’s key ring. There’s also a mobile application that lets customers keep track of their points and access coupons and vouchers.

Identification by email address or phone number

If you wish to modernize your grocery store program, one best practice is to identify customers based on their “unique characteristics”, look them up in your CRM system, and add the purchase to their profile automatically. There are multiple ways to create a “unique identifier”, which should be something that’s exclusive to each customer, such as their:

  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Name & address

The downside of this method is human error or fraud. The staff member might make a typo, causing the system to be unable to find that customer, meanwhile other customers waiting in line will start getting frustrated.

Mobile passes as Digital Loyalty Cards

Mobile passes are digital loyalty cards, which are stored in the Wallet Application on iPhone and Android.

  • They don’t take up extra space in handbags, pockets or wallets
  • They are easy to scan, greatly reducing human error
  • Mobile passes can be updated in real time
  • You can issue both digital loyalty cards and coupons as separate passes in the wallet
  • Customer can even receive their passes via email, so it’s easy to add them to the wallet application and start using them right away
Antavo’s Mobile Wallet solution gives companies another tool to bridge the gap between offline and online activity.
By launching its Mobile Wallet solution, Antavo gives companies another tool to bridge the gap between offline and online activity.

2. Different Approaches for Groceries and Food & Beverage Brands

Being omnichannel

One of the most important things for grocery or food and beverage loyalty programs to offer is a holistic customer experience. In other words, no matter whether customers buy products online or in-store, they’ll receive the same benefits. This might sound simple, but many businesses are still only tracking eCommerce purchases, and offering vouchers that can only be redeemed in brick and mortar stores. This limits customers, and is not a particularly good or convenient experience.

Connecting with buyers through receipt scanning 

With a comprehensive loyalty program, you can still connect with customers and learn more about them, even if you’re selling through partner retailers. The process is simple: ask customers to take a photo of their purchase receipt and upload it through the loyalty program membership page, or by using a special URL featured on the receipt. In this case, make sure the receipts showcase verification information, such as the store where the purchase was made, the date, order volume and a listing of products purchased.

To learn more about the difference between loyalty programs for brands and retailers, check out this video hosted by Antavo’s CMO and Co-founder, Zsuzsa Kecsmar, and Antavo’s VP of Strategy and Insight, Jörn Roegler.

An online membership site 

You should offer an easily accessible area to explain how the loyalty program works. This would be the hub where members can interact with the loyalty program, redeem rewards, as well as learn about the benefits of being a member.

Here’s how a next-gen loyalty membership site might look. It’s a part of your website, and it displays the customer’s profile.
Here’s how a next-gen loyalty membership site might look. It’s a part of your website, and it displays the customer’s profile, their status, points balance, achievements and informs customers of opportunities to earn and spend points.

3. Loyalty Program Logic


If you plan to offer discounts or coupons, make sure to tie them to a loyalty program. This way the reward is still there, they just have to complete certain (valuable) actions to get it—for example by enrolling or making their first purchase. 


Points, diamonds, credits, chips—whatever you choose to call your loyalty currency—are more versatile than instant discounts, because customers can use them to redeem for a wider variety of benefits, such as physical gift items, services like free shipping, or entry into VIP clubs.


If you’re already offering certain services for free, such as free delivery, consider making this service exclusive to loyalty members. This way only the most dedicated customers will have access to it. With perks, customers still receive instant access to these benefits, but they need to register for the program first, boosting your enrollment rates and giving you more insight into customer preferences and behavior.

There's a science behind setting up the point economy for your loyalty program.
There’s a science behind setting up the point economy for your loyalty program. Point rounding, point expiration, multicurrency systems, surprise & delight, etc. Unlike starting from scratch, a loyalty management platform like Antavo provides both the technology and the knowledge for you to be successful. Image taken from the Antavo Loyalty Management Platform.

Experiential rewards

For customers, special swag, or even a guided tour of the flagship store of their favorite food & beverage brand are seen as more valuable than a simpler freebie or a discount. These are called experiential rewards—one-of-a-kind incentives that are memorable. So start considering what kinds of experiences your customers may enjoy once social distancing dials back down.


People love tiers and it’s a perfect loyalty structure for this industry segment. Advancing toward a higher rank gives members a substantial goal to work towards. Not to mention those who have worked to reach a higher tier are less likely to switch to another competitor, because doing so would mean giving up their hard-earned privileges.

Motivate customers to climb higher while maintaining their long-term interest.
Motivate customers to climb higher while maintaining their long-term interest. You define how members can upgrade to new tiers: based on spend or the number of points earned.

4. Special Loyalty Program Elements to Stand Out

App-only benefits

Make the most out of your app by integrating it with your food and beverage loyalty program. Give customers bonus points for daily logins, or for placing an order through the app to incentivize the creation of new habits. 

Friend referrals

Grocery store loyalty programs are an ideal tool for rewarding people who recommend your services, producing positive word of mouth. To make the system even more enticing, give customers a bonus reward for reaching certain milestones, like referring their 5th or 10th friend.

The friend referral module increases virality by tracking customer referrals and encouraging them to invite their friends.
Use the friend referral module to increase virality by tracking customer referrals and encouraging them to invite their friends to shop in your store. Let customers invite their friends via their favorite messaging apps like Messenger and WhatsApp.

Offer management

Businesses whose customers purchase frequently need to keep things fresh to keep their customers’ attention. Offer management is a module that allows marketers to conveniently plan and manage various reward campaigns within the loyalty program. Offer management allows you to create reward campaigns that are specific to certain stores, countries, or even customer segments. 

Limited access clubs

Drive sales by creating special interest groups with exclusive access, which customers can join and gain access to limited-edition products. This type of group attracts the attention of customers who seek “the unique”. 

In limited access clubs you can launch campaigns before new product releases, and create countdowns for new arrivals.
In limited access clubs you can launch campaigns before new product releases, and create countdowns for new arrivals.

Antavo’s client, the online retailer LuisaViaRoma has an early access club for sneaker lovers. The club is so popular that members are willing to spend over 2 million points in just one month on membership, and have sought advice on Reddit on how to buy their way in the club!

With exclusive VIP clubs, you can fulfill specific business goals for a well-defined customer group. The entry requirements can be anything from surpassing a spend threshold, to completing non-purchase related actions, or spending points to buy entry.

Timi Garai
Senior Loyalty Strategist at Antavo

10 Online Loyalty Programs Examples for Inspiration

1. Starbucks Rewards

One of the most influential and well-known food and beverage loyalty programs industry, Starbucks Rewards, boasts nearly 17 million users. And for good reason: the coffee giant made sure that engaging with the program is fun, convenient and provides a unique experience.

  • Participants earn 2 stars for every $1 spent using either the mobile app or registered gift card
  • There are five different reward categories. Each category unlocks a new freebie depending on the number of stars you spend
  • For 25 stars you can get an extra shot of syrup, and for 50 you can choose from a good ol’ cup of coffee or a baked goodie
  • On the top of the pyramid is the 400-star offer: an enticing signature cup
  • The company also recently added NFT rewards to its offerings
Starbucks Rewards plays on their customers’ desire to receive a freebie with their order.
Starbucks Rewards plays on their customers’ desire to receive a freebie with their order. They also add a hint of personalization, letting customers choose between several food and drink variations on offer in each gift bracket.

Why it works

  • A reward program that offers freebies is always more popular than the ones that have discounts
  • Similarly, branded merch as a reward has more emotional value than coupons.
  • NFTs are among the reward types that are still fresh and unique

2. Amazon Prime Membership at Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market, the multinational supermarket chain with 500 stores in North America and the United Kingdom was acquired by Amazon in 2017. One result of these brands joining forces is an attractive grocery discount exclusively for members of the Amazon Prime loyalty program. 

  • Customers get 5% off all purchases when they use the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
  • They can take advantage of 2-hour delivery in selected cities
  • Amazon Prime’s free 30-day trial allows everyone to taste the benefits without any commitment  
Whole Foods offers an attractive grocery discount exclusively for members of the Amazon Prime. 
Whole Foods Market also features a mobile pass, which can be used to identify yourself at the cashier, thus connecting the offline and online loyalty experience.

Why it works

  • Free or high-speed deliver are fan-favorite reward types.
  • Utilizing an extended partnership adds a lot of value to any loyalty program.
  • Mobile passes are the gateway towards engaging with a mobile-loving generation.

3. PC Optimum from President’s Choice

President’s Choice is a Canadian private label and store brand owned by Canada’s largest food retailer. Through their grocery reward program, PC Optimum, the company offers both a digital grocery membership card and an app, which can be downloaded from the Apple or Google stores.

  • Members can earn points not only when shopping for groceries, but also when buying fuel or medicine
  • They offer free shipping and product pickups, but these perks are reserved for Insider members, which requires a paid subscription
  • The program stays relevant by tailoring your rewards to match the food and products you buy most.
In order to keep customers invested, PC Optimum runs special reward campaigns on a weekly basis.
In order to keep customers invested, PC Optimum runs special reward campaigns on a weekly basis, proving that PC is really dedicated to their program.

Why it works

  • Using a paid subscription might lower the number of program members, but their lifetime value will be higher.
  • If customers can earn points at other types of purchases as well, they are more likely to have a higher redemption rate.
  • Tailoring the reward offering to the customer’s liking is an appreciated touch of personalization

4. PlanetBrewDog

BrewDog is an award-winning Scottish craft beer company known for its fierce entrepreneurial spirit, strong support of sustainability, and its mantra of breaking traditional business rules. Unsurprisingly, the company’s loyalty program, Planet BrewDog, reflects these values.

  • Instead of points, customers need to complete certain challenges to earn rewards
  • Each challenge is associated with a cool badge that’s displayed on the membership page
  • One of the badges requires members to purchase carbon-negative products
Antavo’s cover of the Planet BrewDog Case Study.
If you wish to learn more about BrewDog’s loyalty program, as well as what kind of results it has produced, check out our case study!

Why it works

  • Not using tiers and points creates a more inclusive, achievement-driven loyalty system.
  • Badges invoke the inner collector in customers, motivating them to get as many as possible.
  • Encouraging sustainability through the loyalty program draws in eco-conscious customers.

5. Wegmans Shoppers Club

Wegmans is an American supermarket chain with 101 stores in the Mid-Atlantic. The company has an omnichannel loyalty program: customers can create a shopping list online (and organize the list by aisle to make it easier to navigate inside the store), or simply have the products delivered to their doorstep.

  • The program operates without points, and instead relies on digital coupons
  • Customers can access their receipts from previous shopping trips
  • They receive up-to-the-minute info on product recalls
  • Special member-only mailing is included with meal ideas, entertaining help, and special offers
Wegmans’ specialty is personalization: the digital coupon rewards are based on what each customer buys the most.
Wegmans’ specialty is personalization: the digital coupon rewards are based on what each customer buys the most.

Why it works

  • Using receipt scanning is a smart way to integrate offline purchases.
  • Giving out relevant information, as product recalls keeps customers invested in logging in daily.
  • Members-only messages are a cost-effective yet highly popular benefit that pairs well with personalization.

6. Tesco Clubcard

Multinational grocery and general merchandise retailer Tesco has over 6800 shops worldwide. Keeping up such a global presence definitely requires a loyalty program. The Tesco Clubcard operates in several countries all over Europe.

  • Customers don’t need to worry about the points
  • Following each purchase, the points accumulate in their account
  • At least four times a year, members receive vouchers based on the number of points they have earned
More and more people are switching to the Tesco Clubcard mobile app.
Even though the physical card for the program is still popular, more and more people are switching to the Tesco Clubcard mobile app.

Why it works

  • For shopping malls, getting customers to adopt the app significantly boosts the available touchpoints.
  • It’s great if the mobile app doubles as the loyalty pass.
  • If the available vouchers depend on customer’s purchase history, they are motivated to spend more, so they can save more.

7. Domino’s Piece of the Pie Rewards

Domino’s Pizza is the biggest pizza company in the United States. In 2019, they rolled out a new loyalty program that rewards users each time they buy a pizza, even if it’s from their competitors.

  • Customers earn 10 points for every order of $10 or more
  • Once they earned 60 points they can redeem them for a free pizza
  • The loyalty program continously keeps customers engaged, allowing Domino’s to win new business and reengage existing ones.


Domino's Piece of the Pie Rewards.
The company also created a Smart Rewards program, in which every time customers purchase Domino’s Smart Slice, they earn points that can be used to redeem a variety of items to support their schools.

Why it works

  • Redeeming points for free treats will never go out of fashion.
  • A reward program that supports schools will no doubt generate positive word-of-mouth.

8. Subway MyWay Rewards

Subway, the American fast food restaurant, mainly known for its sandwiches, designed a loyalty program in which customers can earn tokens to receive rewards, personalized offers, and more fun surprises.

  • Customers earn four tokens for every dollar spent
  • 200 tokens result in $2 in Subway credit
  • Customers can even collect bonus tokens to reach the 200 token-goal
  • Members receive special gifts and extra surprises on their birthday
  • By downloading the app, customers automatically get enrolled in the program


Subway MyWay rewards program
Members of the MyWay Rewards program can save their preferences in their account to personalize and customize their Subway experience.

Why it works

  • Being able to earn four tokens for a single $ subconsciously tells members that they are making a good deal
  • Being able to earn tokens through other means fast-tracks members to a bonus, which increases their engagement.
  • Birthday rewards are excellent surprise & delight opportunities.

9. Wendy’s Rewards

The mission of Wendy’s is to deliver superior quality products and services to their customers and communities. The American international fast food chain launched its loyalty program allowing customers the opportunity to earn points to unlock rewards for their favorite menu items.

  • Customers can earn points by ordering through the mobile app 
  • Members earn 10 points for every $1 they spend on food
  • WendyMail loyalty program offers eligible military members exclusive deals
  • When customers have enough points, they can trade them for some of their favorite menu items in the Rewards Store
  • Members receive free birthday meals
Wendy's Rewards Program
Wendy’s Rewards members basically get rewarded for something they’re already doing: eating.

Why it works

  • Exclusive deals for certain demographics make a good impression and help to boost enrollment rates.
  • If you wish to push mobile adoption, restrict earning opportunities to app-only purchases.
  • Free birthday meals ensure that on that day, customers will no doubt appear in the store.

10. Chipotle Rewards

Chipotle is known for constantly adding new exciting features to its loyalty program, Chipotle Rewards. From the ability to cash in their points for Chipotle merchandise to limited-edition freebies, one does never know what kind of reward awatis them. 

  • Members earn 10 points for every $1 in the restaurant, in the app or online
  • Free chips and guacamole is also on the menu when members order for the first time
  • Participants of the ‘Freepotle’ campaign receive 10 free food items in a year
  • The company also runs a social media campaign where commenters can win free menu items
  • Members can also earn extra points and collect achievement badges
Chipotle Freepotle promotional campaign
The Freepotle campaign is meant to draw attention to certain menu items and draw in curious customers.

Why it works

  • Constantly adding new features or campaigns to a loyalty program will keep it fresh.
  • A social media contest can help achieve virality for the program for a relatively low cost.
  • Chipotle really knows how to add an exciting spin to freebie rewards.

Final Words Before Starting the Preparation

Planning to launch a grocery or food and beverage loyalty program to keep your hard-earned customers? There’s one thing to keep in mind: no two programs are alike. The end result should not only reflect your brand values, but also cater to the needs of your audience. So don’t rush the planning phase, and always look for the best solutions.

And don’t forget to download Antavo’s Customer Loyalty Report, an in-depth report that showcases dozens of statistics as well as future industry trends to help you navigate the world of next-gen loyalty programs.

A banner recommending to download Antavo’s Global Customer Loyalty Report 2023.

Headshot of Andy Nemes CSO and Co-founder of Antavo

Andy Nemes

Andy is the CSO and Co-founder of Antavo. He is a natural-born helper who takes the time to understand prospects’ unique business needs and is always ready to pick up the phone. He supports Antavo’s clients in finding a loyalty solution that best fits their business.

How omnichannel retailer
LuisaViaRoma increased
revenue by €16m

Get the case study
and join our
email list.


You might also like

The Ultimate Guide to Increasing Customer Lifetime Value
Guides by Tamas Oszi • March 5, 2020 • 13 min read

The Ultimate Guide to Increasing Customer Lifetime Value

Customer lifetime value. CLV. Lifetime customer value. People call this metric by many names, but they all mean the same […]

Which Types of Loyalty Programs Are a Match for Your Business
Articles by Timi Garai • October 10, 2021 • 9 min read

10 Best Types of Loyalty Programs and How to Replicate Their Success

Finding the best types of loyalty programs that benefit you the most might seem difficult, but Antavo will help you find the most fitting loyalty structure.

Guides by Barbara Kekes-Szabo • September 15, 2022 • 12 min read

The Ultimate Loyalty Rewards Handbook

Coming up with loyalty rewards ideas can be challenging. This guide shows you how to create better rewards, benefits, and incentives.

Partners who trust us
Logo line of partners working together with Antavo. Logo line of partners working together with Antavo.


Antavo's listing in Gartner.
Antavo's inclusion in Forrester.