Small business loyalty programs turn customers into creatures of habit

Editorial Team

5 min read
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With over 20 years’ experience in the global payments industry, Massimo Sirolla (co-founder of Loyalzoo) could see that the growth of digital technology among large retailers was leaving the little guys behind. Sirolla took the opportunity to change all of that, and with the help of Clover, created an end-to-end loyalty and marketing solution helping small businesses to grow and compete against big retailers.

Clover recently spoke with Sirolla about how the loyalty industry is changing and why loyalty programs need to be tailored specifically to small businesses. 

We are all familiar with paper or plastic card loyalty programs, but what is a digital loyalty program and why did you decide to build one?
Traditional stamp and plastic cards may seem like the cheaper option, but they are not effective and not that cheap either. The costs associated with ordering loyalty cards can creep up over time and with customers forgetting and losing them, there is little return on investment for the business. Most of all, there is no real way of tracking your return on investment (ROI) with a physical stamp card or plastic card loyalty system. We wanted to create a solution for small to medium-sized businesses that doesn’t break the bank but can still influence and change customer behavior for the better. That’s why we decided to go digital. 

Why is using a digital loyalty program so effective?
Going digital is not just about giving loyalty points when customers purchase. It’s about promoting your business to them when they’re not buying. In 2020, many merchants using Loyalzoo learned the value of that, being able to push promotions to their customers and drive extra sales when normal business was choked off. Being able to communicate with your customers is crucial to growth and survival. In addition, Loyalzoo incorporates time-saving marketing tools that can hook customers back in post-purchase as well as enabling loyalty for online purchases. 

What is the real value-add of a digital loyalty solution?
Small business owners don’t have the time to implement complex loyalty programs and this is why Loyalzoo works so well for them. We offer an affordable solution that takes only minutes to get set up. Many merchants pay hundreds of dollars every month on loyalty programs and marketing with little return on investment or no way to track results. Combining a points-based loyalty program with advanced marketing tools, we have created an all in one solution which can be customized to each individual business. Weekly success reports show the merchant exactly how much progress they are making with their loyalty program. As opposed to traditional paper or plastic cards solutions, we wanted to help merchants measure their results while saving their precious time. 

You say that loyalty programs need to specifically be designed for small businesses. How so
We set out to make sure that even merchants with very little technical knowledge are able to get the most out of our software. Most small business owners lack the time to dig around for hidden features or data. They need a loyalty program that guides them in making important business decisions and engages all their customers. We figured out pretty early on that merchants want their customers to receive loyalty points and promotions by SMS or email. There is an app where customers can track their points and view their rewards, however downloading the app is not at all necessary. If you give customers choice you’ll have a better chance of capturing your entire customer base— which is what matters for a small business. 

How does your integration with Clover simplify a merchant’s life?
Clover provides the best functionality when it comes to creating a sleek experience with loyalty and the point-of-sale. We’ve been able to build more and more integrated features over the last six years with Clover, really making it feel like Loyalzoo is “one” with the Clover software.

We offer two different products, our Digital Loyalty App and a subscription-based loyalty program called Memberships & Recurring Payments. Both these solutions are integrated with the POS and can be accessed from anywhere on Clover. Customer-syncing, automatic loyalty points, and enabling customers to pay for an order with their payment card that is stored on file—these are just a few ways our integration with Clover makes life easier for merchants. We are always working to come up with new features and leveraging the Clover platform to automate as much as possible. There’s a new feature almost every month!

One of the benefits of your software is how it saves a business owner time, with marketing being a time-consuming task. How does Loyalzoo help in that department?
Merchants love our Handsfree Marketing feature! It’s a “set and forget” marketing tool that automatically segments customers based on their buying behaviors. Loyalzoo will tag customers as New, VIP, or “slipping away,” sending special promotions or offers set by the business. Merchants are looking for ways to extract the most from the incredible wealth of information we collect and Handsfree Marketing works away in the background to deliver that without any effort on their part. 

What kind of trends are you seeing in the loyalty space and in small businesses at the moment?
The big new trend is the Amazon Prime model. A lot of large retailers have started offering subscriptions where members get rewards or special benefits in return for paying a recurring member fee. We were early into this space, releasing our Memberships and Recurring Payments app on Clover in 2017. Merchants have been really creative with their subscription-based loyalty programs offering a recurring fee that may cover unlimited access to a product such as daily coffee or car washes; others offer benefits such as 4 massages per month or ongoing discounts on purchases. The beauty of monthly subscriptions is that they provide a guaranteed monthly revenue and increase customer retention. If you are paying for something you want to get value for money!

Another prized feature of our software is that we store payment cards on file for members. This means no customer action is required at the till, a fantastic addition in the current times that helps boost confidence in small businesses.

Massimo Sirolla, Co-founder of Loyalzoo
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