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Loyalty program

Feb 15, 2024

What is a Loyalty Program?

A loyalty program is a strategic initiative employed by online retailers to cultivate and sustain customer loyalty. It operates akin to a membership club, offering incentives and rewards to customers for their continued patronage.

Loyalty Program Definition

With a loyalty program typically, customers accrue points or rewards with each purchase they make. Loyalty members can redeem these accumulated points for various benefits such as discounts on future purchases, complimentary products, or other exclusive offerings. Essentially, the program serves as a mechanism to incentivize repeat business while expressing appreciation for customer loyalty.

Moreover, these programs often encompass additional perks such as exclusive promotions, early access to sales events, and personalized acknowledgments like birthday incentives. As customers engage with the program over time, they may unlock additional privileges, enhancing their overall shopping experience and strengthening their bond with the brand.

Common Loyalty Program Terminology

Below are 11 common terms used in reference to creating and managing ecommerce loyalty programs:


Points are a form of currency earned by customers through participating in a loyalty program. Customers typically earn points for actions such as making purchases, referring friends, or engaging with the brand on social media.


Rewards are benefits or incentives offered to customers in exchange for their accumulated points. Rewards can include discounts on future purchases, free products or services, exclusive access to events, or other perks.

Membership Tiers

Some loyalty programs offer multiple membership tiers based on customer spending or engagement levels. Higher tiers often come with increased benefits, such as bonus points, exclusive offers, or personalized services.


Redemption refers to the process of exchanging accumulated points for rewards within a loyalty program. Customers can typically redeem their points through online portals, mobile apps, or in-store transactions, depending on the program.


Expiration refers to the limited validity period of earned points within a loyalty program. Many programs impose expiration dates to encourage customers to redeem their points promptly and maintain ongoing engagement.


Personalization involves tailoring the loyalty program experience to individual customer preferences and behaviors. This can include personalized offers, recommendations, and communications based on past purchases or interactions with the brand.


Engagement refers to the level of interaction and participation of customers in a loyalty program. Businesses strive to increase engagement by offering compelling rewards, exclusive perks, and interactive features to keep customers actively involved.


Gamification incorporates game-like elements, such as challenges, badges, or levels, into the loyalty program experience to make it more engaging and enjoyable for customers. Gamification encourages participation and rewards customers for completing specific actions or milestones.

Data Analytics

Data analytics involves the collection and analysis of customer data within a loyalty program to gain insights into customer behavior, preferences, and trends. Businesses use this data to refine their marketing strategies, personalize offers, and optimize the loyalty program's effectiveness.

Customer Retention

Customer retention refers to the ability of a loyalty program to keep customers coming back to make repeat purchases. Loyalty programs are designed to strengthen customer relationships, increase brand loyalty, and reduce customer churn.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV)

Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV) is the predicted net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer. Loyalty programs aim to increase CLTV by encouraging repeat purchases, increasing customer engagement, and fostering long-term loyalty.

What are the Benefits of Loyalty Programs for Ecommerce Businesses?

Implementing a loyalty program can offer a variety of benefits to ecommerce businesses. Here are some key advantages:

Increased CLTV

Engaging customers through loyalty programs can contribute to a higher CLTV as loyal customers tend to spend more over the long term.

Customer Retention

Loyalty programs incentivize customers to continue shopping with a specific ecommerce brand or website, leading to increased customer retention rates.

Brand Loyalty

Loyalty programs build a sense of attachment and loyalty to the brand, making customers more likely to choose the same platform for future purchases. In fact, 26% of shoppers are more likely to make repeat purchases with brands that offer loyalty programs!

Zero-party and First-party Data

Loyalty programs enable brands to capture valuable zero-party and first-party data like contact information, customer preferences, and purchasing patterns, allowing businesses to make informed decisions and personalize marketing efforts. And with the end of third-party cookies just around the corner, these types of data will become more precious than ever.

Cross-Selling and Up-Selling Opportunities

Ecommerce companies can use the data collected from loyalty programs to identify opportunities for cross-selling related products.

Data-Driven Personalization

The insights gained from loyalty programs enable businesses to personalize their websites, marketing messages, and promotions based on individual customer preferences.

Social Proof

Engaged loyalty program members may be more willing to provide brands with social proof like feedback and reviews. Ecommerce brands can leverage social proof across their websites and beyond to win new customers.

Enhanced Customer Experience

By offering personalized rewards and exclusive experiences, loyalty programs contribute to an enhanced overall customer experience, increasing customer satisfaction.

Loyalty Program Examples

Sephora Beauty Insider Program

Sephora's Beauty Insider program rewards members with points for purchases, which can be exchanged for beauty products. Members are stratified into three loyalty program tiers based on how much they spend with Sephora.

Sephora Beauty Insider Program
Sephora loyalty program members are stratified into three tiers: Insider, VIB, and Rouge.

The North Face XPLR Pass 

Members of The North Face’s loyalty program earn points with every purchase and get access to exclusive gear and free shipping.

North Face XPLR Pass
The North Face's loyalty program welcomes new members with imagery of the brands outdoor performance gear.

Joggy Community

Once visitors join Joggy’s community they gain access to a portal where they can participate in challenges to earn points as well as connect with other community members.

Joggy Community
Joggy entices visitors to join it's loyalty program with the promise of community.

Loyalty Program FAQs

How do I start a loyalty program?

To start a loyalty program, determine your objectives, choose the right type of program (points-based, tiered, etc.), select suitable rewards, build the loyalty program section of your website, and promote it to your customers.

What types of rewards should I offer?

The types of rewards depend on your target audience and business model. Common options include discounts, free products or services, exclusive access to events or content, and points that can be redeemed for rewards.

How can I measure the success of my loyalty program?

Measure the success of your loyalty program by tracking metrics such as customer retention rate, repeat purchase rate, average order value (AOV) of loyalty program members, and customer lifetime value (CLTV). Be sure to experiment with different elements of your loyalty program to see what drives the most growth across key metrics.

How do I promote my loyalty program to customers?

Promote your loyalty program through various channels such as email marketing, social media, your website, in-store signage, and advertising campaigns. Highlight the benefits of joining and participating in the program.

How do I ensure my loyalty program is engaging for customers?

Ensure your loyalty program is engaging by offering diverse rewards, personalized experiences, exclusive perks, and interactive elements such as gamification, challenges, or referral incentives.

Should I offer a tiered loyalty program or a single-tier program?

The decision between a tiered loyalty program and a single-tier program depends on your business goals and customer preferences. Tiered programs can incentivize higher spending and engagement, while single-tier programs may be simpler to manage.

How do I prevent fraud and abuse in my loyalty program?

Implement security measures such as unique member identifiers and terms and conditions that discourage fraudulent behavior. Monitor activity and promptly address any suspicious or unusual patterns.

How can I make my loyalty program stand out from competitors?

Differentiate your loyalty program by offering unique rewards, exclusive experiences, seamless integration with your brand, exceptional customer service, and ongoing innovation based on customer feedback and preferences.

How often should I update or refresh my loyalty program?

Regularly review and update your loyalty program to keep it relevant and appealing to customers. Consider making adjustments based on customer feedback, market trends, and changes in your business objectives.

How do I communicate with loyalty program members effectively?

Communicate with loyalty program members through targeted email campaigns, personalized messages, notifications within your loyalty program platform or app, and social media updates. Provide relevant information about rewards, promotions, and program updates.

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