How to Build a Customer Loyalty Program on Shopify: A Detailed Guide with Examples | Hong Kong

How to build a customer loyalty program, and why is a loyalty program important? In this article we will look at all in the ins and outs of a customer loyalty program, what is a loyalty program, and more!

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If your business is attracting new customers (congrats!), then a key challenge you are probably facing is retaining them. Loyalty programs have become the foremost strategy in customer retention and fostering long-term relationships that are a win-win between brands and customers. 

In this article, we will delve into the key aspects of creating a successful loyalty program, exploring its significance, and understanding the fundamental principles behind its implementation - with a focus on Hong Kong brands.

What is a Loyalty Program?

A loyalty program is a structured marketing strategy designed to encourage repeat business by rewarding customers for their continued engagement with a brand. These programs typically involve offering customers various incentives, such as discounts, exclusive access, or points that can be redeemed for future purchases. The goal is to create a positive feedback loop where customers feel appreciated and are motivated to choose a specific brand over its competitors.

Why is a Loyalty Program Important?

1. Building Customer Retention:

A well-executed loyalty program goes beyond attracting new customers; it focuses on retaining existing ones. By providing incentives for repeat business, businesses can reduce customer churn and foster a loyal customer base.

For example, MS Chu Soap & Beaut quickly grew their loyalty database and drove an increase in total sales using the OMNI Shopify loyalty app. Learn more.

2. Increasing Customer Lifetime Value:

Loyal customers tend to spend more over time. A loyalty program can enhance the overall customer lifetime value by encouraging continued engagement and fostering a long-term relationship with the brand.

For example, a well designed loyalty program campaign can help boost customer engagement and return customers.  For example, Swisse HK saw a 7x increase in returning customers from their loyalty program campaigns. Learn more here

3. Differentiating from Competitors:

In today's saturated markets, differentiation is key. A compelling loyalty program sets a brand apart from its competitors, giving customers an extra reason to choose one product or service over another.

4. Customer Advocacy and Referrals:

Satisfied customers are more likely to become brand advocates. Loyalty programs can prompt customers to refer friends and family, expanding the customer base through word-of-mouth marketing. Organically, members of loyalty programs are much more likely to refer the products to friends and family, even without a referral program.

How to Build a Customer Loyalty Program:

1. Understand Your Audience:

Before launching a loyalty program, it's crucial to understand your target audience. What motivates them? What rewards would they find valuable? Tailor your program to align with the preferences and behaviors of your customer base.

The reality is, a well thought out and effective loyalty program is one where your points, VIP tiers and rewards are constructed to align with your business and CRM goals. For example, depending on your business type, you may have the following goals for your loyalty program:

  • Luxury - emphasis on VIP tiers, lifetime value and a reward experience geared around pampering your VIPs (e.g., VIP tiers to unlock exclusive access, free gifts, etc);
  • Multi-brand sellers - strong point earning incentive and rewards model to motivate your customers to shop with you as opposed to other retailers; use reward scheme to promote new products, brands and cross-selling;
  • FMCG or multichannel brands - allow customers to earn points and rewards for purchases made outside of Shopify (e.g., partner retailers, marketplaces, etc); build first party data and membership registration to grow DTC engagement and sales;
  • Brick-and-mortar retailing - create a compelling single customer profile allowing customers to earn points for online and offline purchases, all rolled into a single, easy to use loyalty program.

When you get down to it, each business type may value optimizing different customer journeys to reach their business growth goals, and an effective loyalty program would have mechanics designed to help deliver against those KPIs.

2. Define Clear Objectives:

Establish specific, measurable, and achievable objectives and KPIs for your loyalty program. Whether it's increasing customer retention, boosting average order value, expanding your customer base, or increasing customer referrals, having clear goals will guide the design and implementation of your program.

3. Choose the Right Rewards:

The success of a loyalty program often hinges on the appeal of the rewards offered. Consider a mix of discounts, gift with purchase (GWP), exclusive offers, and a points-based system that allows customers to accumulate and redeem points for future purchases - such as pay with points or to redeem items/deals. Some loyalty programs also offer exclusive product launches or early access. 

4. Use Loyalty Program Apps & Technology:

Implement a robust technology platform to manage and track your loyalty program. This could include a point-of-sale system integration, or a dedicated online platform. Technology not only streamlines the process for customers but also provides valuable data for analyzing program effectiveness. While Excel-based loyalty programs have been utilised in the past, modern cloud-based loyalty programs are compatible with every ecommerce platform, with affordable plans. 

5. Promote and Communicate Effectively:

Build awareness for your loyalty program through various channels, including social media, email campaigns, widgets/banners on your ecommerce site, a dedicated webpage, and in-store promotions. Clearly communicate the benefits of participation and keep customers informed about their progress and available rewards.

6. Monitor and Adapt:

Regularly analyze the performance of your loyalty program. Use customer feedback and data insights to identify areas for improvement. An adaptable program that evolves with changing customer preferences is more likely to succeed in the long run.

How to choose a loyalty program solution?

With so many solutions in the market, it could feel daunting to know where to start. So, consider this checklist for your loyalty program solution search:

  1. Loyalty program integrations: This is the most important piece! Look for a loyalty program solution that integrates with your ecommerce platform (such as Shopify) and in-store POS (point of sale system). Aside from ecommerce platform and POS, also look for what integrations the loyalty program solutions provide with marketing platforms (such as Klaviyo or Mailchimp etc) so you can feed loyalty program data to your marketing tools (such as sending birthday messages, welcome messages etc).
  1. Language and localization: most loyalty program solutions are designed overseas, and are English first. This isn't a problem if your ecommerce store is in English, but in Hong Kong, many ecommerce sites are multi-language. This leads to an issue where customers click through from a store in Traditional Chinese, to a loyalty program interface in English. This makes the customer lose trust in the brand, and is a bad customer experience. Make sure to look for a loyalty program solution that offers the languages of your ecommerce store. 
  1. Mobile friendly: Most customers in Hong Kong prefer to register for loyalty programs with their mobile phone number - rather than email. However, many loyalty program solutions only provide email with no alternatives. Look for a loyalty program solution that offers a mobile number sign-up option, so that customers can register with their preferred option, which will reduce drop-out. 
  1. Mobile phone verification with one-time passcodes (OTP): Loyalty programs can often get bogged down in the long run with fake customer information. For example, customers may sign up with a fake email address or phone number to quickly receive a special reward or to exploit the system. This means that when sending email marketing or other communications, you end up paying for sending to fake accounts, and it also distorts your data, which could impact your decision-making. Look for a loyalty program solution that offers OTP (one-time password) - as a means to verify email addresses or mobile phone numbers, before the account is created. 
  1. Customization ability: Most customer loyalty program solutions offer some form of customization of the program to represent your brand. This could include using your logo, changing the colour scheme, tier names, font etc. Make sure the loyalty program solutions you are evaluating will be able to look and feel like your brand in a way that you are happy with. 
  1. Features: Last but not least, of course, are features. Remember above we mentioned there are many ways to design a customer loyalty program! So if you want a tier-based program, make sure to evaluate loyalty program solutions with tiers. This may sound logical, but not all loyalty program solutions are the same! Each has its own niche and tradeoffs, so make sure to evaluate based on your clearly defined goals and expectations. 

Loyalty program solutions for Hong Kong Shopify businesses

At Wave Commerce, we are a leading Hong Kong-based Shopify Expert, ecommerce consultancy, and technology company that helps leading brands develop and grow their Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) and omnichannel business. 

Since 2013, our team at Wave Commerce have been pioneering loyalty on Shopify. Take a look at some of our loyalty solutions designed specifically to tackle the challenges Hong Kong Shopify merchants face below:

OMNI by Wave Commerce

OMNI by Wave Commerce is an omnichannel customer loyalty program and member management solution. OMNI has an excellent set of features and capabilities for omnichannel commerce, designed to bridge the gap between both online and offline stores. 

Key features:

  • Turns the Shopify “My Account” page into a loyalty account hub
  • Integrates the customer’s loyalty points/gifts throughout the buyer’s journey and cart
  • Customer tiering, including VIP segments
  • Customizable design for your branding
  • Self-serve to edit rewards and campaigns
  • Traditional Chinese language, Simplified Chinese, English
  • Mobile-first design, with sign-up by Mobile Number
  • Mobile number OTP verification

Key integrations:

  • Shopify
  • Shopify POS
  • Shopify Flow
  • Klaviyo
  • SleekFlow

Key clients:

Logitech HK, Nestle HK, Mentholatum HK, New Era HK, Life Nutrition, Swisse HK, Bang Bang Airsoft, Herbs'Oil

Learn more about OMNI here, or request a demo

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