Shopping Mall Loyalty Programs: A Comprehensive Guide (2021)

Mall loyalty programs are vastly different from their traditional counterparts. Join us and discover what makes the concept truly successful.

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Every industry sector approaches loyalty programs differently. For example, rewarding every tenth-or-so purchase has been a staple for coffee chains and fast-food restaurants from almost the beginning, while fashion and cosmetic companies tend to focus on experiential marketing and engaging customers outside of the buying cycle. Mall loyalty programs, on the other hand, weren’t that widespread.

This is about to change, however. Experiencing a prolonged lockdown has redefined people’s perspective of public places. This could mean an increased interest for plazas, shopping centers and malls in the near future, where visitors can not only buy stuff, but also receive various services.

Keep in mind that these visits would be cut short without a meaningful differentiator. The Coronavirus has made people more price-sensitive than ever, and they are seeking out experiences to enrich their lives after the quarantine. ross-brand loyalty program for malls could be this differentiator, as it drives footfall and creates an unforgettable experience at the same time.

Customer loyalty to shopping malls decreased during the pandemic. The day-to-day in-store experience and transactional loyalty disappeared and the digital backup just did not exist. A new rival appeared,and it wasn’t the neighbouring shopping mall, it was e-commerce. Hence, it’s time to build a deeper relationship with customers, and bring the customer’s preferences and needs to wherever he or she is. Loyalty needs to be revamped. It’s not about the physical place anymore.

Marek Schweigert
Group Online Marketing Manager at HB Reavis

What Is a Shopping Mall Loyalty Program?

Shopping Mall loyalty programs  are generally referred to as an incentive system where customers can earn points when buying in the stores and using the services inside the mall, such as diners or beauty salons. The appeal comes from the cross-brand nature of the program: customers can earn points for ordering a meal, and then redeem it for a discount while having their hair cut. 

Therefore the rule of thumb is that the more services and brands that are incorporated into the program, the better. We’ll show multiple solutions to seamlessly integrate them later in the article.

Shopping malls are facing strong competition, and effective loyalty programs boost customer retention. The retail industry is very competitive. Through memorable and strategic loyalty programs, shopping malls can outperform other retail centers. Rewards earned from purchases will attract new customers. Loyalty programs offering memorable rewards make the customer feel emotionally connected to a specific retail business and it encourages customers to return and conduct more business.

Simon Griffiths
Managing Director at The Mall Company

Mall loyalty programs also differ greatly from traditional, retail-based loyalty programs. For the mall itself, the goal is to attract as many customers as they can and ensure they have a pleasant time. Malls want all these customers to return and rely more on their services. In other words, the size of the traffic determines the size of the profit. 

For this reason, mall loyalty programs should focus on providing people with a superior experience, as well as benefits that are consistent and readily available at every store. 

Another strong characteristic of shopping mall loyalty programs is convenience. Customers don’t have time for the hassle at the counter. They like the idea of being rewarded, but they’d rather skip it if the administration takes too long. Creating long lines would also cause trouble for the staff, resulting in an overall bad experience.

Therefore the integration of a mall loyalty program should aim to:

  • Be swift and seamless across all stores and services
  • Work in every store, with every phone, and with every credit card
  • Be touchless – this is a basic requirement in the post-COVID era
  • Give tenant brands additional value, instead of being a pain point to strengthen the relationship with the mall

Covid-19 provides shopping malls with a unique opportunity to use loyalty schemes to protect the health of their shoppers. At first glance, social distancing and physical engagement with customers may seem conflicting; but modern, data-driven loyalty solutions can give you the ability to influence the usage of required safety measures and distancing principles, whilst customers also stay connected with their favourite brands through scheduled personalized events and campaigns.

Balazs Magyar
Director of Account Management, Head of Engagements APAC at EPAM Systems

The Biggest Customer Retention Challenges for Malls

Malls, plazas, and shopping centers face a variety of unique challenges that make it difficult for traditional loyalty programs to drive their KPIs. Here’s a list of the most pressing issues: 

  • Targeting a younger audience: The largest demographic frequenting malls are Millennials. Catering to them involves a strong mobile focus, experiential offers and exclusivity. 
  • Evolving the role of the store: Malls have to support their tenants when it comes to smart use of the commercial real estate, reinventing the store area to function as showrooms.
  • Answering a crisis situation: Shopping centers are vulnerable to situations involving mass-quarantines. That’s why they need a solution that helps to win back customers. 
  • Changing customer habits: Most malls want customers to visit more frequently, spend more time shopping, and use the mall’s app to keep up with the offers, but lack the tool to influence their behavior. 
  • Serving a diverse audience: Malls often have tenants who cater to different audiences. This could mean that a luxury fashion store is set up next to a fast-fashion boutique. 
  • Lacking a unified experience: Customers are looking for features that help them save both money and time, but it’s challenging to find a solution that solves this issue for all the tenants.

Being able to live up people’s expectations in the current customer reality could provide an unprecedented opportunity to forge an emotional connection with customers. As it was stated in Antavo’s joint webinar with Salesforce, 40% of people use retail therapy as a way to calm down.

In terms of customers, it is important to make the distinction between the Brands themselves and actual Guests. For Guests, the biggest challenge is clarity of message. Guests must understand the mall is a safe environment to be in and all the Brand experiences they are looking for are available. Any loyalty program plays a key role in the recognition & appreciation of the Guest experience. It is so vitally important, now more than ever, that the Guest feels valued for their mall patronage in such challenging times.

Nick Chambers
Director of Mobile Loyalty Technologies

What Is a Coalition Loyalty Program, and Why Is It a Perfect Fit for Malls?

Coalition loyalty programs unite multiple unrelated brands under one roof. The loyalty currency is shared among all the participants, but each brand decides on its own what kind of rewards they offer, and how accessible their rewards are.

Coalition loyalty programs have a somewhat mixed history, as they only work long-term in special circumstances. A major characteristic is that they generate interest for the program itself, and not the participating brand. Coalition loyalty programs also lose appeal if customers only have a couple of brands in their area, or they have to travel long distances to redeem the reward they want.

The Logic Behind Coalition Loyalty Programs

Luckily, none of these issues apply to malls. In the case of malls, tenants actually benefit from the overall popularity of the loyalty program, as it draws in more customers to the building, and they also end up spending more time there. Also, all participating brands are in one place, therefore customers won’t miss out on any of the offers. 

Even better, coalition loyalty programs support brands through additional means.

Benefits of Coalition Loyalty Programs for Shopping Malls

Now let’s see how a coalition loyalty program in a mall supports customers, tenants, and of course the company owning the mall.

  • Increased footfall and repeat purchases: Create a thrilling shopping environment where customers can earn points at any store in real-time, and then immediately redeem the accumulated rewards even in another store.
  • In-store customer identification: Choose from a wide range of technologies and integrations to create a holistic customer journey where shoppers are identified and rewarded in an easy and seamless manner. 
  • Added value through joint offers: Antavo’s platform allows tenants to upload offers and campaigns directly to the loyalty platform, which you can then easily monitor. This way customers also see all the relevant offers in one place.
  • Gamified customer engagement: Run co-branded social media contests, organize in-store treasure hunts, introduce a multi-brand referral system,and encourage user reviews to increase  as well as engage customers in a non-discount-oriented way. 
  • Better customer experience: Use the loyalty program to entice customers to spend more time in the mall. Collect loyalty data through the tenants to supercharge your marketing automation systems, becoming better in personalization.

Loyalty programs can support cross-selling by promoting tenants that are facing the strongest drop in sales. This includes gastronomy and entertainment brands as well as fashion boutiques. Loyalty programs also encourage clients to dwell longer in malls thanks to non-transactional social and culture initiatives. This creates a unique local identity and emotional loyalty for the place, which is the strongest asset for a successful mall. The key to all of this is to balance profit and cost among various stakeholders, mainly tenants and the landlord, as well as conformity to the brand positioning and strategy.

Andrzej Jarosz
GeoAnalytics Manager at PwC

Technologies for a Seamless Customer Experience

In order to have your coalition program work seamlessly, you’ll require additional technology that connects both the tenants, and your systems to the loyalty program provider — thus keeping the customer’s loyalty profile up-to-date. 

There are five technologies in total capable of achieving a holistic customer view.

1. Deep integration

Transaction data is directly tracked via each brand’s POS, and the POS’s UI is modified to handle point burn & product return. All information is sent to the loyalty provider real-time, using APIs or files.

  • Pros: This approach requires the least amount of modification, and it offers the best customer and tenant experience. 
  • Cons: It’s almost impossible to simultaneously integrate each and every POS solution out there, and the end result isn’t scalable either.

2. Scanner device

Use an application on a phone or tablet to scan the customer’s digital loyalty card and then choose from three actions: grant points, deduct points or apply a discount. 

  • Pros: Easy to implement, and grants plenty of freedom to tenants. Furthermore, the app is capable of displaying a step-by-step guide for the staff, making their job much easier.
  • Cons: Scanning products twice — once for POS and then for the app — can quickly become difficult.

Use an application on a phone or tablet to scan the customer’s digital loyalty card.

3. Card linking

Offer customer bonus points for linking their credit card to the loyalty profile, so when they pay, the system automatically links the transaction data to the loyalty ID. 

  • Pros: Instantaneous and convenient. If all the requirements are met, neither the customer, nor the staff have to perform any extra steps. 
  • Cons:  Multiple integrations from card-linking providers are required to connect all major banks and to ensure the credit card networks are rolled out in all the necessary countries. This approach also doesn’t work if customers pay with cash, or there’s a return.

4. Receipt scanning

Customers are asked to take a photo of the receipt by using their phone. Then they have to upload it using the mall’s mobile app or through a website landing page in order to receive points based on their spending. 

  • Pros: Easy to introduce, and great for accurate, itemized data collection. It also saves the cashier from additional work. 
  • Cons: Receipt scanning forces the customers to jump through extra hoops to get their reward, which could be a bad experience for some.

Customers are asked to take a photo of the receipt by using their phone.

5. Cloud printing

In this case, the loyalty provider is linked to the tenant’s smart printer. Every time a receipt is printed, the device simultaneously sends a requisite amount of information to the loyalty provider.

  • Pros: The data is accurate and itemized. The system also cannot be cheated.
  • Cons: It’s a one-way communication. Still needs other solutions to handle point redemption.

Loyalty programs are all about engagement. Programs need to have the right balance of a good proposition and value based benefits to entice the customer and increase engagement. Data is the key here. Successful programs effectively use their data to create relevant offerings so that members are continually engaged and transacting within the program. Once a meaningful relationship is formed, it is easier to keep the customer.

Lisa Brightwell
Managing Director of Bright Insights Consulting

Implementing the right technology for a mall loyalty program is the most delicate part of the whole development. The most beneficial course of action is to combine the above mentioned solutions. 

Deep integration and the scanner device are necessary to enable customers to earn points and redeem them as rewards. Receipt scanning, card linking and cloud printing, however, are used for collecting customer data, which then can be used to fuel other marketing activities.

Your chosen technology should match each tenant’s data policy.
Your chosen technology should match each tenant’s data policy. Some might be against the idea of sharing their customer’s purchase information with the mall’s loyalty provider. Antavo’s Loyalty Management Platform solves this issue by allowing you to limit the type of data being collected. 

Best Loyalty Features to Stand Out as a Shopping Mall

With the coalition program type and the integration serving as the backbone, it’s time to go through the meat of your loyalty program: the feature list.

Must-have loyalty elements

Keep up the interest with experiential rewards

Go one step beyond simple discounts and coupons, and give customers something exciting they can work towards. Mall-themed goodie bags, VIP checkout, early access to upcoming product drops, bonus treats at the cafeteria: these are all benefits that motivate customers to keep racking up the points.

Create a unique Loyalty Logic 

Spice up your reward program with distinctive rules. Create a tiered system with incremental benefits to promote long-term engagement. Boost enrollment rates with a perk system, giving members instant access to certain privileges as a welcome gift.

Tiers are highly attractive for customers because they pose a challenge, and people love better and better rewards.
Tiers are highly attractive for customers because they pose a challenge, and people love the idea of progressing towards better and better rewards.

Reach new heights with loyalty campaigns

Use Antavo’s drag & drop rule editor to set up exciting loyalty campaigns with ease. Doing so allows you to A/B test the incentives to discover which reward type resonates the most with each customer segment. You can also create surprise & delight campaigns, including birthday emails, giving customers another reason to visit you.

Keep them informed through the membership page

The loyalty program’s membership page is the most essential place for customers. Here they can read about the rules, explore all the rewards and benefits, and review their progress. The membership page should also feature the loyalty ID in the form of a QR code, which people can show through the mobile’s screen to identify themselves during checkout.

A good membership page displays upfront all the relevant information.
A good membership page displays upfront all the relevant information.

Reach a wide audience with a multilingual program

Malls and shopping centers attract tourists from all corners of the world. If you wish to capture their attention, the loyalty program should be available in multiple languages, and showcase the transaction rate for multiple currencies as well.


Use treasure hunt to push store exploration

Promote product discovery and entice customers to spend more time in your establishment with a cross-brand treasure hunt. Participants need to find a specific product or image based on a cryptic description and scan the barcode using their phones. After completing multiple objectives, they may win a prize.

Create virality with social media contests

Engage Millennials and foster virality with a hashtag or Instagram contest. Contestants can enter by uploading a specific content, like a selfie in your mall, or by leaving a catchy comment under your social media post.

Alternatively, you can combine hashtags with comment contests, where tagging a friend further increases the chance of winning.
Alternatively, you can combine hashtags with comment contests, where tagging a friend further increases the chance of winning.

Boost word-of-mouth through referrals

Reward customers for inviting their friends to the loyalty program. Antavo’s platform allows people to share unique referral codes on messaging apps, while you can track important aspects such as value to identify brand ambassadors.

Collect valuable data via customer profiling

Collect data about each members’ preferences or personalities by asking simple, interactive questions and rewarding them for answering. With this information you can personalize each member’s loyalty experience or sync the data to your CRM to run segmented campaigns.

Gamified customer profiling unlocks a whole new array of information regarding the customer’s preferences.
Gamified customer profiling unlocks a whole new array of information regarding the customer’s preferences, favorite products, personality, shopping habits and more.

Cross-Brand Technology

Review tenant offers 

Tenants should be able to directly upload their campaigns and offers to your loyalty program. Their campaigns and offers will be reviewed and approved by you before they become visible for program members. As for customers, they can access all available offers in one place through the mobile app. 

Reach Millennials using Mobile Wallet

Bring the latest loyalty coupons directly to the members’ phones and give them a convenient way to identify themselves through Antavo’s Mobile Wallet solution. It uses a native app that’s available on every smartphone.

With the Mobile Wallet, customers can easily access information about their membership, and see all their coupons and offers.
With the Mobile Wallet, customers can easily access information about their membership, and see all their coupons and offers in one place.

Push notification to deliver loyalty messages

Use advanced geolocation or beacon technology to deliver location-based personalized messages. Send a push notification to customers’ phones the moment they enter the mall through your app. The message can feature all the relevant offers and campaigns from their favorite shops.

Deep insight through coalition reporting

Through Antavo’s extended dashboard, you can follow the performance of your tenant’s loyalty programs and compare their results. The reports are fully customizable and exportable, not to mention the data can be anonymized. Operating the platform requires no IT knowledge.

Antavo’s BI integrations empowers you to better understand the performance of your loyalty program.
Antavo’s BI integrations empowers you to better understand the performance of your loyalty program.

5 Inspiring Loyalty Programs for Malls

1. Fashion Clubs – VIA Outlets

Pan-European estate VIA Outlets comprises 11 centers across nine countries, with over 1,000 stores under its management. The brand’s loyalty program, Fashion Club, is highly popular among customers, even though it isn’t a unified system. Customers require separate accounts in each Outlet, and credits earned in one Outlet cannot be spent in another one, and there’s a mobile app for every Outlet’s loyalty program.

  • Customers receive 5% of the purchase back as credits
  • Credits can be spent to receive coupons up to 25% off
  • The program also grants access to member-only sales
  • Each outlet has its own list of exclusive offers and events
  • To redeem an offer the membership QR code has to be scanned in the store
 Registration to one of the regional VIA Outlet loyalty programs is available offline, online and on mobile as well.
Registration to one of the regional VIA Outlet loyalty programs is available offline, online and on mobile as well, and the app can be used to review the available offers. 

2. Westfield Club – Westfield 

Westfield Group split into two independent companies in 2014: Scenter Group for the Australian and New Zealand portfolio, and Westfield Corporation, which continued to own and operate the American and European center portfolio. Not all of the Westfield malls have the company’s loyalty program, the Westfield Club, and even those that offer it are running the program separately. 

  • Westfield Club has earn & burn mechanics, but the rules are different in each country
  • In the US every $1 spent equals 1 point, and 100 points can be redeemed for a $25 coupon
  • In the EU, 10 points are earned after every purchase of €10 or more, and 100 points are worth a €10 reward
Besides the authentic Westfield malls, the company also owns malls around Europe that aren’t running under ‘Westfield’ name.
Besides the authentic Westfield malls, the company also owns malls around Europe that aren’t running under ‘Westfield’ name, and they provide a different kind of loyalty program, with different offers and special services.

3. ION+ Rewards – ION Orchard

ION Orchard is a shopping mall in Singapore, with 335 food and retail outlets. The company’s loyalty program is purely app-based, which is highly popular among the mobile-loving generation.

  • ION⁺ Points can be earned for every block of $100 same-day spend. Each receipt must be a minimum spend of $20.
  • Customers earn double ION+ Points on their first successful submission of every block of $100 spent during their birthday month
  • Every 25 ION⁺ Points grants a $10 shopping voucher
  • 1 ION⁺ Point means $0.40 off the parking charges, capped at $8.00 per visit
ION+ Rewards offers three tiers in addition to the earn & burn system, with an exclusive club.
ION+ Rewards offers three tiers in addition to the earn & burn system, with an exclusive club reserved for the top 100 highest spenders.

4. MetRewards – Metcentre

Metcentre is a shopping center in Sydney that caters to a variety of shoppers’ needs from fashion and food to health and beauty as well as other various services. MetRewards engages customers outside of the buying cycle by rewarding non-transactional behavior.

  • Customers can earn 10 points by making a purchase in the mall, and having their loyalty profile’s QR code scanned by the staff
  • Simply visiting the mall awards 5 points, but people have to identify themselves
  • Referring a friend grants 20 points
  • Completing the customer profile adds 100 bonus points, which is a smart way to collect customer data in a non-intrusive manner
The points can be spent on a variety of rewards, such as free food at the cafeteria, as well as special deals and sweepstakes.
The accumulated points can be spent on a variety of rewards, such as free food at the cafeteria, as well as special deals and sweepstakes.

5. MyWEM – West Edmonton Mall

West Edmonton Mall (WEM), located in Canada, is the largest shopping mall in North America. The company’s loyalty program, MyWEM, is available through the West Edmonton Mall app.

  • Customers can earn points by scanning receipts, scanning their loyalty ID when visiting an attraction, completing their profile and redeeming promo codes
  • There are exclusive deals and offers in the app for every member, and they receive 10% off admission to all attractions when they purchase tickets in the app 
  • Loyalty rewards include: free stays at Fantasyland Hotel, free admission to attractions, free photos by professionals, and a birthday party for up to 10 people
MyWEM demonstrates that loyalty programs can drive interest towards the attractions and services presented by the mall.
MyWEM demonstrates that loyalty programs can drive interest towards the attractions and services presented by the mall, not just toward tenant brands.

Start Preparing for a New Era

As you can see, mall loyalty programs — and coalition loyalty programs in particular — are a great fit for malls, plazas and shopping centers. With such a well-planned customer retention tool, you’ll be able to significantly increase footfall, encourage service consumption, and convince customers to spend more time engaging with tenant brands.

We would love to share our knowledge, so feel free to book a demo, or send an RFP and we’ll show how our loyalty platform can work for your business.

And don’t forget to download Antavo’s Customer Loyalty Report 2022, 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.

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Headshot of Andras Nemes, Co-founder & CSO 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.

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