Enterprise Mobility

How Mobile Apps Are Changing Customer Loyalty Programs


The competition among businesses and retailers keeps growing with each passing day. So, it has become increasingly difficult to determine the rewards that will make your customers come back to you.

Consumers still expect businesses to reward them for being loyal to the brand. Loyalty programs do just that as well as enable businesses to gain valuable insight into their consumers’ purchases and shopping preferences.

Yet, customers do not want to overload their wallets with several rewards cards. Hence, mobile loyalty apps can be invaluable for initiating and sustaining loyalty programs and are increasingly used.

Such apps can offer better insights into individual customer behaviors and launch smartly targeted personalized deals, using the information stored on the mobile apps. Also, the use of such a mobile app strategy by businesses has expanded the scope of loyalty beyond in-store credits, discounts, and accumulation of points to rewards that make the customers’ lives easier and lead to behavioral change.

Even some statistics point towards this trend of mobile apps for consumer loyalty programs. As per the 2016 Mobile Consumer Report by Vibes, 94% of the mobile phone users who use a mobile wallet prefer to save personalized mobile wallet offers or coupons and around 82% of them like digital coupons more than paper ones. Also, about 49% of the consumers surveyed by Vibes mentioned that they expect to land on a mobile coupons page rather than an ecommerce page or an app download page.

So, let us take a look at how mobile apps are bringing about impactful changes to customer loyalty programs.

Revolutionizing Customer Loyalty with Mobile Apps

For many years, reward systems (membership cards and loyalty points redemption cards) have dictated how retailers engage with their customers. And, it has become even easier for businesses to increase brand engagement and customer loyalty by enabling interactions between the brand and the consumers, with mobile at the forefront.

However, when you start focusing on loyalty as a key element of your mobile app strategy, it is not just about getting the offline rewards card system to the online mobile app. It also involves far more research and insight, before your customers will start trusting your business.

So, it is vital for companies to understand and evaluate the following from the consumer’s perspective:

  • How can you add value to the customer’s purchases or subscriptions?
  • What do the users really need?
  • How can you improve the daily routine of the consumers and make things easier for them?
  • What can the business offer them in exchange for loyalty?

Let us consider the examples of a few companies which have implemented sound mobile app strategies, impacting customer loyalty.

A Focus on Loyalty by Starbucks

One of the globally renowned coffee chains, Starbucks, came up with an app for use on mobile phones and smart devices. This Starbucks app improved their consumers’ lives by allowing them to avail the following features:

  • Pay for their orders
  • Search and locate the nearest Starbucks cafe
  • Place an order in advance

These app features have brought about a behavioral change in the Starbucks consumers as they now even order and pay online. Such provisions go a long way in increasing the liking and loyalty of customers towards Starbucks’s brand.

Of course, the Starbucks mobile app also provides consumers with access to numerous rewards and discount offers (or coupon codes). So, they are already targeting consumers who only associate brand loyalty with monetary rewards or savings.

Clearly, the Starbucks rewards program has been one of the most successful loyalty programs that has combined mobile payments, loyalty, and in-store digital experiences in a single place.

The Finish Line Mobile App for Winners Circle Customers

Finish Line Inc. came up with a mobile app idea for its Winners Circle customers, with the help of IBM and PointSource. The app was designed to provide rewards to consumers in the form of points, offers or loyalty perks as well as enable them to keep track of these from a single place. It even allows the consumers to scan the rewards or coupons in the store directly from the app.

Finish Line’s app also provides easy access to order tracking, information from any local store, and announcements about hot product releases. So, it focuses on developing an understanding of the customers, informs them about company decisions or announcements, and encourages loyalty and sales.

The Finish Line app even leads to improved customer engagement in the store in real time. For example, it uses geo-location technology to send push notifications to consumers and share information about nearby stores, such as real-time visibility into inventory to see whether or not a specific item is in stock.

We have thus seen two examples of businesses successfully leveraging mobile apps to gain customer loyalty. Let us now take a look at some mobile apps that have taken loyalty programs to another level.


This is a location-based app that detects when a customer is inside or nearby particular stores. It then offers rewards or proposes schemes that are specifically targeted and tailored to the customer based on past interactions with him or her.


This cloud-based platform integrates loyalty and payment to identify factors that bring repeat business. It offers cashback rewards to consumers on sign-up by text message and enables your business to keep track of the products that are selling quickly as well as the staff members who bring in the most sales and revenue.

In a nutshell, the mobile app strategy can bring more customer engagement and brand connection and will result in more mobile point sales and revenue. You just need to give the customers what they really need and offer them a convenient experience.

We hope that the above information about the impact of mobile apps on customer loyalty programs proves useful to you or your business. Please feel free to share your feedback or queries (if any) in the comments section below.

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