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Top 5 Cafe Loyalty Program Ideas

Written by 
Brad Davis
June 30, 2020

When developing cafe loyalty program ideas, it can be tough to know where to start… especially at the moment.

While customer loyalty remains crucial to business success, the global cafe industry has undergone some unprecedented changes this year. One such change is the rising importance of contactless business-customer interactions, which affects the way we operate loyalty programs.

Cafe loyalty programs have always needed to be enticing and convenient, but now they also need to be contactless.

Growing demand for café loyalty programs

As lockdown restrictions start to ease around the globe, Stamp Me has actually noticed an increase in the demand for digital loyalty solutions. People still want their coffee, dammit!

“Mere weeks after certain countries began to ease their lockdown policy, we’ve seen a steep peak in businesses wanting to implement a digital loyalty program,” says our Head of Marketing, Michaela Ward.

“We don’t think there’s a more fitting time for a brand to strengthen a relationship with its existing customers.”

So how can cafe owners best use a loyalty program to retain customers, inspire brand loyalty and drive increased engagement? Here are the top cafe loyalty program ideas to help business owners quickly recover from this difficult period.

1. Stick to a simple stamp card system

It’s safe to assume many cafe owners would be ecstatic to have a loyalty program as sophisticated as Starbucks Rewards.

And while Starbucks Rewards is indeed the Holy Grail of digital loyalty apps, you don’t need all the bells and whistles in order to retain customers, boost brand loyalty and increase engagement. That being said, we can give you some tips on how to create a loyalty program app like Starbucks Rewards.

Quest Coffee Roasters has seen exceptional results with its simplistic “digital punch card” approach to loyalty programs. Sometimes, less is more! Simple offers such as “Buy X, Get Y” or “Spend X, Get Y” are easy to understand and often show the best results.

A stamp card on Stamp Me app
A digital stamp card on the Stamp Me app

2. Swap your paper punch cards for a digital loyalty app

changing paper punch card to digital loyalty card on a phone
Digital loyalty apps are replacing traditional physical punch cards

Digitizing your cafe loyalty program gives you access to something which will change your business forever: customer data.

With a digital loyalty program, every transaction provides your rewards database with new information on each customer, such as:

  • frequency of visit
  • average transaction value
  • preferred menu items

These are just the bare minimum data points. For instance, by asking customers’ date of birth upon registration (in exchange for an annual birthday reward offer) the rewards platform can automatically segment each customer into an age group.

This is called personalization, and when it’s done right, it can increase customer satisfaction by as much as 640%.

All of this information helps the digital rewards platform to send customers targeted communications and tailored offers. This kind of personalized customer experience just isn’t possible with paper/plastic loyalty cards.

Stamp Me Head of Marketing Michaela Ward says it best: “What a digital loyalty program offers that a paper punch card doesn’t, is the means for direct communication.”

Why have direct communication with your customers?

  • inform them of special deals and offers
  • remind them of their rewards progress (“Only two stamps to go until a free coffee!”)
  • announce a new product or menu item
  • invite them to special events your café is hosting or involved in
  • wish them a happy birthday with a special offer
  • reach out to lapsed customers (“We haven’t seen you in a while… come in for a free croissant with your next coffee purchase!”)
  • boost slow periods
  • friendly messages to stay front of mind

3. Gamify the customer experience

playing loyalty app game
Gamification within a loyalty app

To gamify a process is to take an ordinary task – a driving test, exercising or perhaps employee training – and make it fun by adding gaming components to it.

Consider any non-game activity you’ve engaged in where you were rewarded badges, placed on a leader board or unlocked access to new arenas for participating in some way.

When brainstorming cafe loyalty program ideas, gamification is an excellent way to engage customers and build hype around your brand.

The same behavioral principles that make scratch-and-win cards so successful for lotteries and gaming businesses can also be used as a creative marketing tactic and promotional tool to engage customers.

Stamp Me offers gamified features as a standard function of our Pro and Elite loyalty program options, including access to a very effective Scratch & Win instant prize campaign.

scratch and win game on the Stamp Me app
Scratch & Win game on the Stamp Me App

There are a variety of other cafe loyalty program ideas you can employ to get it off the ground, including:

  • inspiring your staff to become loyalty program ambassadors
  • offering an upfront incentive
  • running social media competitions
  • using your loyalty program to demonstrate good corporate citizenship

You can learn more about these techniques in our comprehensive Cafe’s Guide to Customer Loyalty Programs ebook.

How to go about creating a digital loyalty program for your cafe

It’s never been easier to create a fully functioning mobile-based loyalty program app for your business.

Cafe owners can subscribe to a loyalty app provider (like Stamp Me) and have access to a fully functioning digital loyalty platform at a very reasonable monthly cost. As an example, our loyalty app starts from just $43 per month.

A recent Vibes report stated that nearly three-quarters of smartphone users are eager to have all their loyalty programs stored on their devices in one handy spot, for convenience and ease of use.

At Stamp Me, our goal is to make it as easy as possible for cafe owners to implement a digital rewards program.

We also offer several other rewards validation solutions – the one which works best for your specific cafe ultimately depends on your own unique business model.

However take a look at our Quest Coffee case study to see what this company is doing to validate their customers' stamps.

Learn more about Stamp Me’s versatile loyalty program validation methods. Otherwise, to speak to a friendly member of our team about how we can help your café retain more customers and increase brand loyalty, get in touch today.

Stamp Me provides loyalty solutions to businesses large and small, from our own Stamp Me Loyalty App to fully customised loyalty and rewards programs for enterprises and brands.

Contact us if you would like to discuss a loyalty or rewards solution for your business or brand.

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