So you think you want to run a loyalty program on your Shopify store, but you're not sure about the tools on offer to make it happen.
You don't have the time or resources to build your own loyalty infrastructure from scratch. It would be nice - you'd control the customer experience, build whatever you like, and have "zero-party" access to all the data you could want - but it's not your specialty.
You chose Shopify because they do all of that for you. Whether it's their first-party decisions like integrating crypto payments, or their rich ecosystem of third-party apps for you to plug in and play with, Shopify lets you focus on the thing you know best: your product, and your customers.
With that in mind, let's go over five loyalty program tools for Shopify and see what you can do with each of them.
What should you be looking for in a loyalty program?
If you do it right, a loyalty program serves several purposes. Obviously, a successful loyalty program lowers customer acquisition costs and raises their lifetime value by encouraging repeat purchases. But increasingly, loyalty programs are being used by companies to control the customer experience to upsell and build greater brand affinity.
Look at McDonald’s and Burger King. In recent years food delivery apps like Uber Eats have been great for customers: they can order from the McDonald’s down the street or the Burger King across town with almost no difference in effort, just scrolling a little further down the app. But for the companies, this creates a problem. They've been commoditized. All the effort they put into the customer experience is wasted when they're just two identical buttons in someone else's app.
It's why they've launched competing loyalty apps on mobile. They want to take back control of the customer experience to maintain brand affinity which they can use as a defensive moat. Additionally, this gives them full access to customer data which they can use to refine the experience and inform business strategy.
In theory, these apps also differentiate them from the competition. But the McDonald’s and Burger King apps alone are very similar. As the loyalty app industry grows, more and more companies are using white-labeled, off-the-shelf solutions to get programs up and running fast. That's nice, but it's something of a lost opportunity.
It's why Starbucks is expanding their loyalty app into web3 with Odyssey. Starbucks built its own loyalty program from scratch and has owned the whole experience for a decade. But the rest of the industry is catching up to them. They can see that customers want something more from loyalty apps than the occasional free drink or coupon.
By integrating web3 technology into their existing mobile app, Starbucks are quietly onboarding millions of people onto a web3 customer list. And once they have that, they have a foundation on which they can build new kinds of loyalty initiative that the industry has never seen before. And with web3's public, "lego-like" infrastructure, they don't even have to run the operations themselves; similar to Shopify ecommerce, they can just plug in what they want to use and not worry about cloud concerns like hosting and maintenance.
So a loyalty program lets you differentiate yourself from your competitors, build a brand they can't compete with, and find out more about your most valuable customers to drive your own revenue and ROI. This is true for brick-and-mortar retailers, but it's especially true in ecommerce where companies are all using the same tools to deliver similar services: Stripe for payments, AWS for hosting, MailChimp for emails, etc.
When you think about what you want to offer in your loyalty program, you might think of coupons, free shipping, rewards points or exclusive offers. Almost every loyalty app on Shopify will let you do that. But when you're looking for a loyalty partner, what you're really after is a tool that'll help you stand out from competitors, build a list of your most valuable customers, and give you full access to analytics data revealing what it is they really want from you.
With all of the above in mind, let's look at some popular Shopify loyalty apps and see what's on offer.
With Growave, you can offer rewards points for things like making purchases, leaving reviews, referrals, and social posts. Growave also boosts your Google Shopping rank with reviews, and includes features like wishlists and referral programs. The integration with Google and Facebook means customers can log into your site with accounts they already have, boosting conversions over a bespoke signup process.
As well as the usual loyalty features, Smile provides a shared "wallet" that puts all your customers' loyalty points in one place. This means they don't forget about your store because they see it every time they open their app. While you don't get to control the experience, you can customize the way your brand appears in the app and set the rewards for valuable activity.
LoyaltyLion adds retargeting and powerful analytics to help you bring back customers who've bought from you before. You customize the way LoyaltyLion's templates and touchpoints look to fit your brand, and integrate it with referral apps you might be using already. LoyaltyLion also has multi-language support that lets you expand your loyalty program internationally with no extra effort.
Taco does something different. Its Shopify app lets you run exclusive, token-gated products in minutes. But that's just the beginning.
Like Starbucks, you can build an web3-native customer list that's yours forever. You're not locking your most valuable data in someone else's platform, your customer list lives on the blockchain of your choice where hundreds of thousands of "validator nodes" keep it permanently available and secure.
Web 2.0 loyalty tools will try to sell themselves on bespoke integrations with the other apps you use, but a blockchain can serve as a single shared database for the entire internet - Web 2.0 or web3. With Taco, you can keep your on-chain customer list mapped to emails, making it easy for you to plug it into Web 2.0 apps like MailChimp or your other Shopify apps. You get all the control of web3 with the Web 2.0 convenience you're used to. That's great for businesses who are playing the long game, and see their loyalty program as a valuable part of their future strategy.
And it's great for customers. Your competitors are doing all the usual loyalty stuff already, and they're all using exactly the same tools to do it. Like Mcdonald's and Burger King forced together in the delivery app, you're all just rows in someone else's spreadsheet. Customers want something more.
One small car wash chain recognized this and became an unlikely web3 success story because of it. Soapy Joe's broke the mold and used a web3 loyalty drive, in partnership with Taco, to run a summer-long scavenger hunt with collectible NFTs. Depending on how many they collected, customers were automatically rewarded with discounts, free gifts, or even a weekend away for two. It was a runaway success with thousands of customers onboarded. And now, Soapy Joe's can use the customer list they've built up to do anything they want: whether that's the usual Web 2.0 plays or new initiatives on web3.
One good NFT offer is all you need to get the ball rolling. And with Taco's free Shopify app, you can get started in just minutes. With permissionless collaboration, you don't even need to launch your own tokens to start making exclusive offers.
So if your customer list is forever yours, and you can plug it into anyone else's product, what's the catch? Why do customers stay with Taco? Because other than the easy-to-use, end-to-end suite of tools and a team dedicated to customer success, Taco's marketplace combines on- and off-chain analytics to give you unprecedented insight into your customers' habits and interests. And as well as harnessing the "lego-like" capabilities of the entire web3 ecosystem, Taco has built-in features for airdrops and in-person participation that are ready to set up in minutes.
We handle all the web3 infrastructure stuff for you. And your customers never need to worry about wallets or private keys: they just give you their email and Taco handles everything for them. Like with Reddit's hugely successful NFT avatars, the complicated backend tech stays where it belongs: the backend.
Unlike other loyalty tools for Shopify, Taco combines loyalty program automation, consumer ownership with upside, brand differentiation, and zero-party data in one easy-to-use product.
If you want to try out a customer loyalty program and see what sticks, any of these tools will give you a quick and easy setup until you find something more permanent. But by starting your loyalty program on web3, you won't have to.