Reviewing the Top Strategies for Marketplace Loyalty Programs

Marketplace loyalty programs come in many shapes and sizes. In this article, we analyze the most successful strategies for online marketplaces.

Did you know that Amazon offers a global reward fulfillment initiative? No, I’m not talking about Amazon Prime. Rather, I’m referring to a template for mini rewards programs, called Amazon Moments. This begs the question, is there a more extensive reward concept geared exclusively towards online marketplaces? And the answer is: yes, there is. Marketplace loyalty programs aren’t that prevalent yet, but that’s about to change thanks to the recent boom in eCommerce solutions.

But before jumping into the details, let’s ask the question:

What is a Marketplace Loyalty Program?

Marketplace loyalty programs are highly sophisticated rewards ecosystems that cater not only to buyers, but to sellers as well. In a nutshell, marketplace loyalty programs stray from the traditional loyalty program dynamic by involving sellers or partners in the reward system, alongside customers. Marketplace loyalty programs can take many forms, as the concept is highly flexible, allowing organizations to use a loyalty logic specific to their unique needs. 

A banner recommending to download Antavo’s ‘Loyalty Program Concept Worksheet’
Navigating the mazes of concept building for your loyalty program can be frustrating. Simplify the process with our ready-to-use worksheet.

The Three Most Common Marketplace Loyalty Program Strategies

1. Multi-purpose loyalty programs

The most straightforward way to build a marketplace-focused loyalty program is to create a separate reward system for both customers and sellers. For instance, the organization can provide a different experience for each group, where customers are presented with an earn & burn system, while resellers can achieve higher tiers and activate benefits (lower service fees, access to statistics) based on their performance. 

Uber

Uber is a perfect example of how to gear a marketplace loyalty program towards both ‘sellers and ‘buyers’. On one hand, passengers have access to Uber Rewards, a four-tier loyalty program, where you can level up by frequently using the service. On the other hand, Uber Pro is meant to recognize drivers. In this case, drivers earn points during fixed 3-month periods, and can spend them on rewards such as roadside assistance or up to 25% off car maintenance.

The driver-centric rewards in Uber’s Uber Pro reward program.
Uber Pro also offers 100% tuition coverage at ASU online to help drivers or their family members pursue a degree.

2. Mini templates

Alternatively, a marketplace loyalty program may take a page from Amazon’s book and create a framework for mini loyalty program templates. In short, resellers that enroll into the program are able to set up their own mini loyalty program, which includes offers and rewards of their own choosing. In this case, the program owner (the marketplace provider), decides how much freedom and complexity to allow sellers.

Tmall

Owned by Alibaba, Chinese eCommerce marketplace Tmall operates a loyalty program that offers brands such mini templates. But unlike Amazon Moments, the mini-programs are far more extensive than simply handing out rewards. For instance, sellers are able to introduce game-like mechanics into the framework, and create a leaderboard where buyers can compete for prizes. 

The main store page for Chinese eCommerce marketplace Tmall.
Tmall is such a staple in the Chinese eCommerce sphere, that many brands selling in the marketplace set up mini-programs there, even when they already have a program of their own.

3. Partner-only programs

Marketplace loyalty programs can also be geared towards partners and subcontractors. This type of program functions more similarly to traditional loyalty programs, with the exception rewards are geared towards partners and not customers. Incentives in this type of program are meant to improve company relations, so rewards are often training courses meant to help partner employees improve their performance or discounts on service fees.  

Telarus

Not quite an online marketplace but rather a telecommunications network, Telarus runs a partner-only loyalty program. Points are issued individually to partners, and the rewards catalog includes a combination of professional benefits, such as marketing consultancy or sales training, and personal rewards, like special experiences or gifts that make their offers more attractive.

The main rewards page of Telarus’ telecommunication loyalty program
Telarus partner-centric rewards catalog is powered by Antavo.

What Are the Benefits of a Marketplace Loyalty Program?

If implemented with care and foresight, marketplace loyalty programs can offer immense value to both the program owner and members, whether they be buyers, sellers or partners. 

Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of each marketplace loyalty program type:

Multi-purpose loyalty programs

  • Rewarding sellers provides an incentive for them to put more effort into their store and offers
  • A seller-centric marketplace loyalty program attracts higher quality brands
  • Such rewards programs tend to have positive word-of-mouth on social media
  • Conceptualizing all dimensions of the loyalty program takes more effort, and this kind of program requires sophisticated loyalty technology

Mini-programs

  • Sellers are able to tailor their mini-program to their own image and introduce rewards within their profit margin
  • Buyers have more reward options to choose from, making it more appealing to frequent buyers in the marketplace
  • Program owners can still exercise control over sellers’ offers and campaigns if they pick a suitable loyalty technology
  • Mini programs are more limited in capabilities than a traditional loyalty program, and companies that already have their own program cannot integrate the two

Partner-only programs

  • Provides new touchpoints to build stronger relationships with your partner network
  • Incentivizes higher-quality service from subcontractors
  • Program structure and implementation is much simpler, and can run as an earn & burn or perks program
  • The main goal is improving network relations rather than achieving a high ROI
A three-part table showcasing the pros and cons of the three marketplace loyalty program types.
All three marketplace loyalty strategies have their pros and cons, but each strategy caters to companies with different KPIs.

Closing Thoughts on Marketplace Loyalty Programs

Marketplace loyalty programs are an exciting new opportunity for eCommerce marketplaces to grow their audience, both buyers and sellers. Introducing such a concept in the current market environment could prove to be a valuable asset and a strong differentiator from the competition.

Have any questions about marketplace loyalty programs, or reward systems in general? Start a conversation with Antavo’s top experts about next-gen loyalty technologies. Get in touch by booking a demo or by including Antavo in your RFP.

And as a last bit of advice: a prudent budget plan is at the heart of every successful loyalty program. So make sure to check out our ebook on the fundamental planning steps.

Budget Planning 101

Giulia Filoso

Giulia is the Head of Antavo’s Customer Success department. She has amassed vast knowledge regarding the needs and perspectives of various businesses. She also serves as a guardian angel during the implementation process.

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