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3 Fantastic Rewards Programs That Drive Revenue

Mike Grimes
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A customer rewards program can be incredibly valuable for your company, as you probably already know. However, do you know exactly how to maximize sales and shopper frequency from rewards-driven purchases?

Depending on how you implement a rewards program, it could either have a small impact, or a huge one. While buyers may be fine using mass FSI coupons, today’s shopper expects personalized coupons, gamified points systems, and more in exchange for their loyalty. You can do a lot more with your rewards program than you may imagine.

There is new technology to enable you to build a powerful rewards program for your retail brand, including POS print messaging, digital receipts, customized email marketing, and much more. And these tactics have been proven to work.

Don’t believe me? Here are 3 powerful examples of brands that have built creative and effective rewards programs to drive revenue. Get inspired by how they use rewards programs and apply these lessons to your own company.

ULTA Beauty Drives Revenue

ULTA’s Ultamate Beauty program is an absolute smash success in the world of rewards programs. With more than 20 million members, the program is very large, and has significant influence on sales -- 90% of the company's sales come from loyalty program members. Introduced in 2014, the program gives members exclusive relevant offers, special promotions, free birthday gifts, and no annual fee. ULTA also focuses on a phenomenal in-store experience, frequently inviting members to private in-store events that are closed to the public.

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This program has been called “Amazon-resistant” because customers will buy from ULTA, even when the same product is available at a cheaper price elsewhere. That’s because of the great benefits that members get through the program. The company has also moved from offering discounts alone to more direct email marketing with personalized messaging to drive ecommerce sales. This has also worked well, with ULTA growing their online sales by 50+% the past two years. ULTA is truly a stellar example of how to do a rewards program well.

GNC Turns It Around

In today’s tough and competitive market, GNC has seen sales struggle both in-store and online. The company actually shuttered -- and then reopened -- all of their physical stores last year as part of an effort to shift their strategy and improve pricing. But this aggressive tactic didn’t seem to work immediately. In Q1 of 2017, revenue was $644.8 million, down from $668.9 million in 2016. However, this decrease was offset by a $4 million increase in revenue associated with the launch of a new loyalty program, according to Retail Dive.

With the new myGNC program, members are predicted to shop 6 times this year, compared to 4 times last year -- an encouraging sign for the company. How did GNC achieve these results? With myGNC, customers are offered benefits like automatic refills on their favorite products through GNC.com. The program also remembers your order history, shares customized offers, and even includes faster checkout. In addition, members can upgrade to myGNC PRO for even more benefits.

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Because of these appealing benefits, customers are more likely to become repeat customers rather than shopping around online for a better deal -- driving revenue when GNC needs it most.

CVS Moves to Digital

When it comes to rewards programs, today’s customers are more tech savvy than ever. CVS is one company that has successfully adapted a legacy rewards program to a tech-driven world. Rather than sticking with traditional paper coupons alone, CVS now offers customers the option to switch to digital receipts. With this added channel, CVS is offering its shoppers not just highly relevant offers and communications, but a choice on media delivery. They continue to grow their virtuous cycle of increasing sale and customer loyalty by improving the customer experience.

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Without offering digital receipts, CVS may not have had nearly the number of email addresses for their valued customers. Now, they can create email-driven campaigns like this survey. It’s obvious that tech-savvy customers will be more likely to use -- and join -- the reward program if it’s all online.

Each of these rewards programs works differently, and is customized to the company that is offering them. Your business can’t exactly copy any of these tactics, but they can inform how you approach and modernize your own rewards program.

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