Loyalty Programs: eCommerce Hack #04

  • Home
  • /
  • Blog
  • /
  • Loyalty Programs: eCommerce Hack #04

Strengthening customer loyalty through loyalty programs in e-commerce

Anyone who has a handle on their customer figures knows that retaining existing customers is at least as important as acquiring new ones. Loyalty programs offer an effective way to strengthen customer loyalty and encourage repeat purchases. In this article, we look at the tactics of designing loyalty programs that reward customers for repeat purchases, reviews, social media interactions or referrals - and how to get there in practice.

1. The importance of customer loyalty in e-commerce

Customer loyalty is crucial for the long-term success of an e-commerce company. Regular customers generate more stable sales and are often less price-sensitive than new customers. Studies show that an increase in customer loyalty of just 5% can increase profits by 25-95%.

This is where loyalty programs come into play, providing an ongoing incentive for customers to return.

Why customer loyalty is so important?

Lower costs: It is 5-25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.

Higher sales:
Existing customers tend to spend more and buy more often.

Valuable referrals:
Satisfied customers recommend your business to others, organically generating new leads.

Stronger brand loyalty:
Loyal customers identify with your brand and become brand ambassadors.

Better data:
Repeated interactions give you valuable data on customer preferences and behavior.

Customer loyalty is not a “nice-to-have”, but a decisive success factor in e-commerce. Through targeted strategies and programs, you can not only retain your customers, but also turn them into loyal fans who will support your company in the long term.

2. Types of rewards in loyalty programs

Loyalty programs can offer different types of rewards that incentivize different customer actions:

Rewards for repeat purchases: Points or discounts collected with every purchase can encourage customers to buy regularly. One example is the points system, where customers collect points for every euro spent, which can be redeemed for discounts or free products.

Rewards for reviews:
Customers who leave reviews help build trust and influence the purchasing decisions of others. A loyalty program could offer additional points or special discounts for writing reviews.

Rewards for social media interactions:
Customers who share posts about products or mention the company on social media increase brand visibility. Incentives such as exclusive offers or additional points can be effective here.

Rewards for referrals:
Referral programs reward customers who refer friends and family to the company. This can be in the form of points, discounts or even cash rewards if the referral makes a purchase.

3. Tactics in and for loyalty programs

Collecting points for various activities:

Purchases: The most basic tactic, where customers receive a certain number of points for every euro spent.

Customers can earn points for writing product ratings or reviews.

Social media interactions:
Points for sharing content on social media, following the company or tagging in posts.

Customers earn points when they refer friends or family who then make a purchase.

Birthdays and anniversaries:
Points as a birthday or anniversary gift for signing up to the program.

App usage:
Points for downloading and using the company's app.

Participation in surveys or quizzes:
Points for feedback and participation in interactive content.

Attractive rewards:

Discounts: Points can be redeemed for discounts on future purchases.

Exclusive products or services:
Access to limited editions, special collections or special services for members only.

Early access to sales:
Members get the opportunity to get in on special offers before anyone else.

Personalized offers:
Offers tailored to individual preferences and purchasing behaviour.

VIP events and experiences:
Invitations to exclusive events, meet-and-greets or special experiences.


Stages or levels: Members can advance to higher levels by collecting points and thus unlock additional benefits.

Challenges and competitions:
Members can take part in challenges and compete against each other to win points or prizes.

Badges and achievements:
Members can collect badges or achievements for certain actions, e.g. for a certain number of purchases or reviews.

4. Psychological principles of loyalty programs

The effectiveness of loyalty programs in e-commerce can often be traced back to psychological principles that influence customer behavior and motivation. Here are some of these principles and how they can be used in loyalty tactics:

1. Reciprocity:

  • Principle: People feel obligated to return favors.
  • Tactic: When a company accommodates customers with rewards, discounts or exclusive benefits, they feel more inclined to give back, whether through repeat purchases, positive reviews or recommendations.

2. Social recognition:

  • Principle: People strive for recognition and appreciation from others.
  • Tactic: Loyalty programs can promote social recognition through exclusive status levels, public recognition of successes (e.g. in social media) or the offer of VIP events.

3. Gamification:

  • Principle: People are playful by nature and love challenges.
  • Tactic: By collecting points, levelling up, badges, challenges and competitions, loyalty programs can introduce playful elements that motivate and entertain customers.

4. Fear of loss:

  • Principle: People fear the loss of something they already own more than they value the gain of something new.
  • Tactic: Loyalty programs can leverage fear of loss by offering limited-time offers or exclusive benefits that encourage customers to act quickly to avoid missing out.

5. Principles of progress:

  • Principle: People are motivated to see progress and achieve goals.
  • Tactic: By collecting points, level increases and progress bars, loyalty programs can give customers the feeling that they are working towards a goal and thus motivate them to take further action.

6. Personalisation:

  • Principle: People feel valued and understood when they are addressed individually.
  • Tactic: Through personalized offers, product recommendations and communication based on individual purchasing behavior, loyalty programs can strengthen the feeling of appreciation and increase customer loyalty.

7. Community:

  • Principle: People have a fundamental need for belonging and community.
  • Tactic: Loyalty programs can foster a sense of community by creating exclusive groups or forums for members to share and interact with each other.

By integrating these psychological principles into your loyalty strategy, you can develop a program that not only rewards customers, but also appeals to their intrinsic motivation and thus builds a long-term and profitable relationship.

5. You should look at these examples when introducing a loyalty program

Of course you know Payback, Amazon Prime or the IKEA Family Card - and will know how to assess their transferability to your plans and projects. Below you will find further additions and suppliers of loyalty inspiration when planning your own program.

Nike Membership

The Nike Membership offers a comprehensive loyalty program that provides members with exclusive benefits such as access to new products, special training programs and personalized shopping experiences. By combining online and offline experiences, Nike creates a strong bond with its customers that goes beyond just shopping.

Screenshot from the homepage of Nike Membership

The North Face VIPeak / XPLR Pass

The North Face rewards members of the VIPeak-Programs for purchases and activities such as checking into certain locations or participating in outdoor events. The points collected can be redeemed for exclusive experiences or products. This program not only boosts sales, but also strengthens brand loyalty through shared experiences.

Screenshot from the homepage of VIPeak-Programms

REI Co-op

Members of the Rei Co-op receive an annual dividend based on their purchases, access to exclusive events and discounts on services such as bike repairs.

Screenshot from the homepage of Rei Co-op

Lululemon Sweat Collective

Lululemon Swear Collective is a program that rewards brand ambassadors (athletes, coaches, etc.) who represent and promote the brand online and offline.

Screenshot from the homepage of Lululemon Swear Collective 

6. Introducing a loyalty program in e-commerce: how to proceed:

Questions to be clarified in advance

1. objective: What do you want to achieve with the loyalty program? (e.g. increase customer loyalty, increase the repurchase rate, acquire new customers)

2. target group:
Who are your target customers? Which segments should be addressed?

3. incentive structure:
What kind of rewards are most attractive to your customers? (points, discounts, exclusive offers)

4. technical requirements:
What technical solutions and integrations are required? (e.g. CRM systems, e-commerce platforms)

5. budget:
What budget is available for the development and implementation of the program?


1st planning phase: Set a clear timeframe for the planning and design of the loyalty program.

2nd development phase:
Define a realistic timeline for technical development and implementation.

3rd test phase:
Conduct a beta phase to test the program on a small scale and gather feedback.

4. market launch:
Plan the market launch at a strategically favourable time, e.g. before a peak season or a major sales campaign.

KPIs and their measurements

1. repurchase rate: Measure of how often customers repurchase after the introduction of the program.

2. customer lifetime value (CLV):
Track the change in CLV to evaluate the long-term benefits of the program.

3. average order value (AOV):
Monitor AOV to see if customers are spending more.

4. program participation:
Analyze loyalty program sign-up and usage frequency.

5. customer satisfaction:
Collect feedback from participants to identify satisfaction and areas for improvement.

Market launch

1. communication strategy: Develop a comprehensive communication strategy to promote the program (email marketing, social media, website promotions).

2. team training:
make sure your team is well prepared and understands all aspects of the program to be able to answer customer inquiries

3. launch event:
plan a special event or promotion to launch the program to generate awareness.

4. multi-channel approach:
Use different channels to increase awareness of the program (online store, newsletter, social media, influencer marketing).


1. regular review: regularly analyze the KPIs and customer feedback to identify potential for improvement.

2. adaptation and optimization:
continuously adapt the program to the needs and wishes of your customers

3. new features and rewards:
Regularly add new features and rewards to keep customers interested.

4. gamification:
Integrate playful elements to increase engagement.

5. personalization:
Provide personalized offers and rewards based on individual purchasing behaviour.

7. Technology components for an e-commerce loyalty program

To implement a successful loyalty program in your e-commerce business, it's crucial to understand and use the right technology components. In this section, you'll learn what systems and tools you need to efficiently manage customer data, personalize marketing strategies and continuously monitor and optimize the performance of your loyalty program. Use this information to take your loyalty program to the next level and strengthen customer loyalty in the long term.

1. CRM-System (Customer Relationship Management)

  • Description: A CRM system helps you to manage customer data and develop personalized marketing strategies.
  • Functionality: Management of customer profiles, segmentation, tracking of customer interactions and analyses.

2. E-Commerce-Platform

  • Description: Your existing e-commerce platform (e.g. Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce) should be able to seamlessly integrate the loyalty program.
  • Functionality: Integration of loyalty programs, customization of checkout processes, management of product catalogs and customer accounts.

3. Loyalty-Management-Software

  • Description: Specialized software for managing loyalty programs.
  • Functionality: points allocation and management, rewards catalog, promotion management, integration with CRM and e-commerce platforms.

4. Marketing-Automation-Tools

  • Description: Tools for the automation and personalization of marketing campaigns.
  • Functionality: Email marketing, SMS marketing, personalized offers, trigger-based campaigns.

5. Analyse- and Reporting-Tools

  • Description: Tools for monitoring and analyzing the performance of your loyalty program.
  • Functionality: KPI tracking, customer analysis, campaign performance measurement, dashboards.

6. Mobile App Integration

  • Description: A mobile app can increase customer loyalty and facilitate access to the loyalty program.
  • Functionality: Points overview, redemption of rewards, push notifications, personalized offers.

7. Social Media Integration

  • Description: Integration with social media platforms to reward customers for interactions.
  • Functionality: Reward for likes, shares and recommendations, social media campaigns, customer loyalty through social networks.

8. How your store system supports your loyalty program

Each established store system offers specific solutions and features to help you create and manage an effective loyalty program. In this section, you'll learn which ready or semi-ready solutions are available for ShopifyMagentoWooCommerceBigCommerce and Salesforce Commerce Cloud and how they can support your loyalty program. Use these insights to choose the right platform for your needs and maximize customer loyalty in your online store.

1. Shopify

  • Ready-made solutions: Apps like Smile.io, LoyaltyLion and Yotpo offer extensive loyalty program features.
  • Functionality: Points programs, VIP levels, rewards for purchases and social media interactions, integration with email marketing tools.

2. Magento

3. WooCommerce

  • Ready-made solutions: Plugins such as WooCommerce Points and Rewards and SUMO Reward Points.
  • Functionality: Points for purchases, redeeming points for discounts, customer management, integration with email marketing tools.

4. BigCommerce

  • Ready-made solutions: Tools such as Smile.io and LoyaltyLion.
  • Functionality: Loyalty programs, points and rewards, VIP levels, analyses and reports.

5. Salesforce Commerce Cloud

  • Ready-made solutions: Integrated loyalty management functions and partner apps such as Loyalty Management.
  • Functionality: Holistic CRM integration, personalized customer approach, comprehensive analyses, omni-channel solutions.

9. Conclusion: Loyalty programs- the key to long-term customer loyalty in e-commerce 

Loyalty programs have proven to be an effective tool for retaining and inspiring customers in e-commerce over the long term. By rewarding customers for repeat purchases, reviews, social media interactions and recommendations, they incentivize ongoing engagement with the brand. The psychological foundations such as reciprocity, social recognition and gamification further enhance the impact of these programs.

However, successful implementation requires thorough planning and strategic consideration. From selecting the right type of program and the appropriate rewards to technical implementation and continuous optimization, there are many factors to consider. By leveraging modern technologies such as CRM systems, e-commerce platforms and loyalty management software, companies can maximize the effectiveness of their programs and create a personalized customer experience.

Ultimately, loyalty programs are an investment in the future of your business. By valuing and rewarding your customers, you build a loyal community that supports your business in the long term and contributes to its success.