Loyalty cards have become so widespread in the coffee world, that it almost seems odd when a coffee shop doesn’t have some kind of promotional offer. There are a wide variety of approaches, from the relatively simple stamp card systems used by many independent shops and smaller chains, to the more complex digital programs used by businesses such as Costa and Starbucks. Setting up your own loyalty card scheme doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive though, as long as you carefully consider how your promotion will work in advance.
Simple stamp cards
The most basic level of loyalty card you can do is a simple offer of a free coffee when a customer has purchased a certain number of drinks. These are quite quick and cheap to set up, all you need to do it print the cards and have a stamp made for marking the number of coffees purchased. There’s no hard and fast rule about how many a customer should buy before you give them a freebie, that’s very much down to you. Before you settle on an offer though, make sure you carefully consider what the profit margin on each drink is, and how much you will make on the full price drinks compared to how much you will lose on the free one. For this reason, you may want to place limitations on which drinks qualify for the offer, or perhaps put a price cap on the free drink.
There are some other ways you could look at it, for example a customer could get a stamp whenever they spend over a certain amount, or perhaps each time they buy food if that’s something you would prefer to incentivise. You can even create multi-tiered systems to give out rewards of increasing value the more a customer spends. The only limitation is your imagination!
Digital loyalty programs
Of course, there are loyalty programs that go a step (or sometimes many steps) further. Digital loyalty programs usually involve giving customers a plastic loyalty card which they register their details to either via a website or an app. The card is scanned each time they make a purchase, giving a number of points depending on how much they spend. Some brands will also give additional weighting to products they are trying to push, or will have double or triple points days to try to encourage customers to come in during quieter times in the week.
These programs give you a huge range of freedom in terms of offer complexity, but they are also much more difficult and expensive to set up. What you get in return for this investment though is the potential to access a huge amount of additional data which if used intelligently, could open up a whole new world of opportunities.
Buying coffee with data
The biggest benefit of a digital loyalty program is that you not only know who each customer is, but you also know exactly what they are buying and when. This means you’re able to do some really intelligent marketing by creating customer segments depending on things like beverage type, spend amount, purchase times etc. For example, you could create a promotion exclusively for customers who only come in on weekends to try to tempt them in mid-week, or you could give specific customers a discount if they spend over a certain amount. The options really are endless, and the more customers use the cards, the more data you have available to experiment with.
Data can also be used with low tech paper card systems, just in a slightly different way. One approach is to ask customers to fill in details such as their address, email etc in order to claim their free item. As long as you’re being compliant with data protection laws, this can be a great way to begin to build a database of customers to market to via email or SMS. It may not give you the same amount of data as a digital program, but it’s a lot cheaper and easier to set up.
Investing in top of the range digital solutions is one of the things WMF does best, which is why we have developed the innovative Coffee Connect system. This allows you to monitor your coffee machines from anywhere in the world, saving you valuable time and money. You’re also able to perform analysis on purchase behaviour, and remotely promote offers on your coffee machine screens. This means you can be completely flexible and to react to customer data as quickly as possible, maximising profit and minimising stress.
Download a brochure to see our full range.