As we mentioned in the introduction, rewards are typically games, points, and incentives designed to make customers behave like we want: visit more frequently, increase average ticket. When they do, we reward them.

Reward programs are a good way to offer a bonus to those who already visit you frequently. Your heavy-user customers have probably asked about some bonus or reward for coming in all the time. Punchcards

Most Customer Reward Programs offer one or a combination of:

  • Card (or app) to scan at purchases to track points (or other spending habits),
  • Freebies or discounts, or
  • Emails or other notifications about specials.

Let’s start with a relatively well-known reward program…

The Starbucks Card

At its core, the Starbucks Card is simply a form of currency. You give Starbucks money in advance, and they hold it for you until you swipe your card to spend it.

Once you register your Starbucks card, you begin to earn “stars” for each transaction. Earn enough and you are rewarded with discounts, free drinks, and free food.

Starbucks Rewards is a digital punch-card program. It rewards heavy users and creates a bit of status for regulars. The most frequent customers receive a gold card.

Join the email list and you’ll be alerted to new product launches, events, and specials.

Customers feel appreciated for giving business to Starbucks. Their star system encourages frequency and a bit of urgency – like airline miles – if you don’t earn enough, you lose your status and rewards drop.

And, you get treats on your birthday!

Consumer Reports Rates Rewards Programs

Consumer Reports rated the most ‘rewarding’ programs in this article calling out the following brands. (Note they do call these programs ‘loyalty.’)

  • Target REDcard
  • JCPenney’s JCP Rewards
  • Gilt Insider
  • Gap Rewards Program
  • Best Buy Reward Zone
  • Macy’s Star Rewards
  • DSW Rewards
  • Amazon Rewards Visa card
  • Nordstrom Fashion Rewards

They also rated Rewards Apps (Applications) they love…

  • Belly,
  • Front Flip, and
  • Key Ring Rewards Cards (Not a reward program for business, per se, but rather allows customers to store all of their plastic reward cards on their phone.)

Rewards Apps are pre-designed programs businesses can subscribe to and implement, making them accessible to smaller businesses.

Let’s take a look at the three above and a few others.