5 New Ways to Think About Loyalty Programs in 2019

Loyalty programs have been standard fare in the grocery industry for decades, even before digital tracking became an option. Grocers used tools like punch cards and good old person-to-person recognition to identify loyal customers.

Technology has come a long way since then, allowing many retailers to create loyalty programs that not only track points, but offer personalized discounts and unique, once-in-a-lifetime prizes.

The grocery industry simply hasn’t kept up.

In 2019, there are plenty of ways for retailers to reconsider their loyalty programs and redesign them with the customer in mind, generating even more loyalty and providing a seamless experience in the process.

Here are a few ideas that you can take to stay ahead of the competition and reward your customers for their continued support.


5 Ideas for Grocery Store Loyalty Programs in 2019

Think about your store’s unique customer experience

You’re already aware that no two grocery stores are the same. Some place a focus on their fresh foods, others play up their local roots, and others still highlight their low prices. Defining your position in the market is the best place to start when considering how you can make your loyalty program stand out in 2019.

Think about your unique customer experience to determine what features would be best for your store.

Are your customers tech-savvy? A mobile app could be the way to go if you want to encourage them to take part in your loyalty program. A sleek, uncomplicated design with a barcode that can be scanned in order for them to redeem points (think: the Starbucks Rewards program) could go a long way in increasing participation.

Shoppers a little less connected to their tech? A physical embodiment of your rewards program could be a simpler solution. A keychain with a unique barcode that customers can scan, or a store-connected debit card (similar to Target’s REDcard) would be the best option for these customers. They don’t have to worry about digging in their pockets or a handbag for their phone – the keychain would be attached to their most important asset, their keys, and a store-connected debit card would actually allow them to pay and redeem points all in one.

With any initiative, customer experience is key. Evaluate your shoppers’ interests and habits to decide which options would be best for them.


Add a sustainability component

We’ve been talking about sustainability incessantly over here, and for good reason. Grocery stores are a major contributor to food waste, and we’ve been focused on ideating solutions to eliminate waste, both through the supply chain by reducing expired shrink.

By adding a sustainability aspect to your loyalty program, you’re not only making strides toward offsetting your carbon footprint, but you’re also letting your community know that environmental consciousness is important to you.

One way to give your loyalty program a sustainability message is to partner with a company that will plant a tree every time one of your customers accumulates a specific number of points. You can show customers that not only will they receive great deals if they participate, they’ll also be a part of a larger initiative.

Another idea to give your loyalty program a green twist is to collaborate with an organization like Stop Waste Together, which places branded coupons on items that are about to expire in your store so that customers can get a good deal on a still-good product while helping you reduce potential food waste.


Start an affiliate program

Using your loyalty program as a launching pad for an affiliate program could be a cross-marketing boon for your business.

It’s likely that your loyalty program is already being used by the customers that frequent your store. These dedicated customers could be brand advocates if you give them an incentive for sharing your store with their social networks.

Use a system like Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan program to reward customers who post about your store on social media and share your posts with their friends and family in addition to the rewards that they’re earning for purchasing your products.


Go online

E-commerce is another one of those topics that you can’t get away from in the grocery industry. It’s being adopted by even the most local grocers across the country in hopes of tapping into a market that loves to live digitally.

If your customers are online – shouldn’t your loyalty program meet them there?

There are many possibilities when it comes to having a fully-digital loyalty program that taps into your customers online purchasing habits. You can use the data that you collect on individual purchases to make smarter stocking decisions and send more accurately targeted discounts and deals.

Thinking even bigger, could your loyalty program participants experience an Amazon Prime-like benefit that allows them to get quicker deliveries or other perks for being a loyal shopper?


Keep it simple

The golden rule for grocery store loyalty programs in 2019 is to keep it simple. Customers don’t want to have to jump through hoops to find out how many rewards points they’ve accumulated, or to find out how much money they’ve saved as a part of your program. Make it easy for them to access their results on your website or app by typing in their loyalty number or other identifier.

In addition to simplifying the process for customers who want to check on their progress, you probably need to pare down your loyalty program in general. Make it easy for your customers to remember how they accumulate points so that they take the actions that you want them to take.

Do customers get automatic discounts on their purchases for being a loyalty member – getting away from a points system altogether? Or, do they accumulate a point for every dollar that goes toward unlocking rewards?

Make the conversion from purchase to points and rewards simple to understand, and include those rules in marketing materials throughout your store.


Though loyalty programs have been a staple in the grocery industry for quite some time, it might be pertinent to re-evaluate your current program and see what you can elevate to fit your customers’ unique profiles. Take the ideas that we’ve listed above and run with them. We can’t wait to see how your business grows after you implement a successful loyalty program.


Click the link below to discover other ways that you can generate loyalty among your customers in 2019.

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