The Current State of Loyalty Programs in Retail

In an ever-evolving retail landscape, staying ahead of the curve is crucial. Learn about the best opportunities for loyalty programs in retail.

Antavo’s cover about loyalty programs in retail.

Retail, as we know it, is in a peculiar position. Stores are closing, D2C brands are rising, and it’s becoming harder and harder to take a piece of the pie. Still, there are opportunities in every situation. Retailers who think innovatively and know how to use existing strategies, such as loyalty programs in retail, will be the trendsetters of tomorrow. How? This article will provide you with precise pointers. 

If you are looking for a deep-dive into the current and future landscape of the retail industry (and the role loyalty programs play in it), be sure to check out our joint webinar with Acxiom and Bloomreach. If you want to get ready for next year’s peak season rush, you won’t want to miss it! 

The World of Retail Is Shifting

A couple of years back, the pandemic shook everything up and caused an eCommerce hyperjump. Once things began to stabilize, an economic crisis hit hard: in 2023, nearly 2,400 retail stores closed in the US alone. On top of that, customers are more conscious than ever, not just looking for the best deals but also demanding sustainability and social responsibility from the brands they do business with. But is all of this going to lead to a Retail Apocalypse? Highly unlikely. Thanks to advancements in technology, retailers can break new ground in loyalty programs, personalization and omnichannel strategies — even combining all three!

Setting up a hashtag contest on Instagram.
If you want to go omnichannel in your loyalty program, setting up a photo or hashtag contest is an excellent way to boost engagement and generate excitement and a lot of buzz — plenty of people will participate.

Next-Gen Features for Loyalty Programs in Retail

If you want to run a retail loyalty program, you need to step beyond the tried and tested. Luckily for you, SaaS loyalty program technology is at a turning point, and loyalty platforms now offer a large variety of features that you can tailor to your business needs.

  • Digital Loyalty Cards: Forget plastic cards. With Mobile Passes, all in-store loyalty activities can be handled easily with something customers already have in hand.
  • Enrich your communication with loyalty data: By making loyalty info readily available for staff, they can give loyalty program members personalized product recommendations and remind them to use available coupons and rewards. 
  • In-store treasure hunts: Promote footfall and store discovery in a game where members have to find a product on the shelves and scan its barcode for rewards.
  • Reward lifestyle engagement: Create new touchpoints based on shared values. Reward recycling, a healthy lifestyle, product reviews, or other soft actions.
  • Gamification: Move beyond familiar concepts such as challenges or badges, and create a truly game-like gamification experience with Prize Wheels and other next-gen features. 
KFC UK & Ireland launched an award-winning loyalty program that truly puts the ‘game’ in gamification. And the results? A 53% increase in the number of app downloads, and a 26% increase in the number of weekly active app customers.

Level Up Your Personalization Efforts

Customer data, especially zero-party data, is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can serve as an incredibly potent tool to enhance the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. Not to mention, most customers anticipate being addressed in a relatable manner. On the other hand, increasing privacy concerns and regulatory constraints are making it more challenging to obtain this type of data reliably.

Headshot of Dominik Pribyla, Product Marketing Manager at Bloomreach

Data is the new oil that drives businesses. However, there is a privacy-personalization paradox, as consumers actually demand the very thing they are concerned about. This means that although you can collect data, you are expected to do it the right way. For example, consumers want businesses to make it easy for them to navigate in-store and online. Give them product recommendations, personalized search results, send personalized offers.

Dominik Pribyla

Product Marketing Manager at Bloomreach

The resolution to this ‘privacy-personalization’ paradox lies in a well-connected tech ecosystem. From the earliest point of contact (like your POS) to the CDP, loyalty platform, and marketing automation solution, data needs to flow seamlessly between each system. With a disparate tech stack, data will be siloed, and there will be no way to create a single customer view.  

Antavo’s gamified survey module in action.
Loyalty programs are a perfect example of why you should connect your tech stack. They not only give organizations more high-quality customer data, but also helps to harness zero-party information via incentivized surveys.  

Winning Over the GenZ Audience

Speaking of connected experiences for loyalty programs in retail, you shouldn’t forget about the in-store experience, especially if you are targeting a GenZ audience. Despite being digital natives and mobile-first, they still crave social interactions which is primarily why they visit shopping malls and retail stores. Although they can be more discerning when it comes to loyalty programs, once you gain their loyalty, they are more likely to become brand ambassadors

Headshot of Lars Formanek, Strategy Consultant, EMEA at Acxiom

One aspiration that’s still very challenging for many brands is the connection of online and offline experiences. Getting your customers back into the store is a rising trend in retail just now, but you need to offer that extra-enhanced experience that drives them into the store — especially Gen Z, who are digital-first. Interestingly, they are willing to share the data in exchange for relevant messages and other values, such as instant access, free delivery, early access, or limited edition products.

Lars Formanek

Senior Strategy Consultant at Acxiom

Here are a couple of strategies to win them over:

  • Seamlessly connect the online and offline experiences
  • Reward social currency by organizing social media contests
  • Enable instant reward redemption options in-store
  • Incorporate augmented reality as a premium loyalty feature
Influencer/ referral loyalty program example - Influencer loyalty program.
When it comes to GenZ, UGC matters a lot. Friend referrals, incentivized user reviews and special tiers for influencers are all worthwhile strategies for retaining the interest of young shoppers.

Building a Retail Loyalty Program Using Antavo’s Technology

Antavo’s no-code technology was created with flexibility in mind and supports a wide range of loyalty program features, such as Prize Wheels, a beloved gamification element.

  • In Antavo’s dedicated Prize Wheel module interface, you can set up the basic characteristics, such as the name, assets and color palette for the Prize Wheel, or use images and logos. 
  • Define the chances of winning individual rewards by assigning a percentage rate to each prize wheel slice. 
  • Customers can spend their points for a chance to spin the wheel and win a reward. 
  • Use the Prize wheel editor interface to configure display and mechanics settings. These settings can be requested via Entities API and used to build prize wheels on the membership site.
An image of a fictional loyalty program showing how the prize wheel feature works.
Prize Wheels are a fun and engaging way to boost point redemption and create a gamified experience. 

If you wish to discuss what other use cases Antavo supports for loyalty programs in retail, feel free to request a demo or send your questions directly in an RFP

Also, don’t forget to check out the webinar — featuring top experts from Antavo, Acxiom and Bloomreach — this content was designed to give viewers a deeper understanding of today’s loyalty landscape. 

Headshot of Tamas Oszi Senior Loyalty Program Specialist at Antavo

Tamas Oszi

Tamas is the Head of Content at Antavo and a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional - CLMP. Tamas is known for having a keen eye for loyalty and customer retention strategies and trends. Tamas is also a true gamer at heart and has an impressive collection of cyberpunk books.

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