Four of the Best eCommerce Customer Loyalty Programs

Retail stores and restaurant loyalty programs once had the leading edge over web-based businesses, but thanks to some major players and innovative ideas, this dominance is no longer the case. As eCommerce spending increases every year, more people are realizing the irreplaceable experience of shopping in their own homes.

Savvy eCommerce brands are converting these “casual” online buyers into repeat business with well-implemented online loyalty programs. Here are some of the most creative and effective ways brands leverage loyalty programs to create repeat online shoppers:

Best Online Travel Agency Program

Expedia has the biggest market share compared to other OTAs, owing in no small part to its well-structured loyalty program. The program hits all the right notes despite offering nothing out of the ordinary.

Members of Expedia+ earn 2 points for every $1 spent on cruises or hotels they book, and they can get 1 point for every $1 spent on flight+car packages. Points can be redeemed for vouchers, special limited offers and package upgrades, such as a full-size car instead of a compact.

Most recently added to Expedia+ is a tier system. People who book a certain number of nights or spend a certain dollar amount per calendar year are bumped up to +silver or +gold status. These tiers feature special options like exclusive offers, complimentary upgrades and Expedia’s own dedicated concierge services set up in the vacation hot spots of Orlando, Hawaii and Las Vegas. The rewards can be coupled with Chase Credit Company’s “Ink” small business card for $100 coupons after every 10 nights’ hotel stays in a calendar year.

While other companies have more simple systems like’s “buy 10 nights get one free” and more complex ones like Priceline’s complicated “Bonus Cash” system, Expedia’s is both straightforward and comprehensive enough to appeal to a broad base of online consumers.

Best Package Deal Program

The eCommerce mega giant, Amazon, has taken the same approach to their Prime membership system by throwing in so many different benefits that it could make your head spin. Membership grants:

  • Free two-day shipping service
  • Streaming of thousands of movies and shows, including exclusive original series like the critically lauded comedy Transparent
  • Music streaming service and book rental
  • Early access to Amazon’s blowout “Lightning Deals”
  • Cloud storage of photos

This multitude of services hits all the right notes for several market demographics. People that just want a streaming service like Netflix get one that comes with two-day shipping, and people who buy a lot on Amazon and want consistent shipping options get access to better deals and “surprise and delight” aspects like photo storage. Needless to say, membership has been swelling thanks to these perks and Amazon’s aggressive promotion of the program on every item listing and checkout page.

Best Full Spectrum Program

The e-cigarette market is ballooning quickly, and many businesses are still struggling to find how to stand out. South Beach Smoke seems to have found the answer with a rewards program that is tied into their entire business model.

Customers are sent South Beach’s branded e-cig or vaporizer devices in a “starter kit” package that includes everything they need as well as several cartridges for smoking. Users are then encouraged to enroll in the home delivery subscription service, which offers deep savings for people who smoke frequently but also high-margin revenue streams for South Beach.

From then on, every dollar they spend and social media activity they complete, such as sharing a product purchase, earns members points. The fact that the sales funnel recognizes the needs of repeat customers and directs them towards a long-term, high-profit relationship makes South Beach a marketing genius in a relatively young sector.

Best Unexpected Value

Clothing brand Patagonia wanted to do something different when it conceived its loyalty program. Rather than offering members rewards for purchasing new items, Patagonia helps members get rid of the old Patagonia products they no longer want. To accomplish this goal, Patagonia partnered with eBay to make selling used Patagonia clothing easier than ever.

It sounds counterproductive, but by helping members sell older Patagonia clothing, the company emphasizes brand values like long-lasting durability and a sustainable “re-use” ethos. This service is part of Patagonia’s “Common Threads Initiative” that pitches itself as a socially responsible initiative other than a leading clothing seller’s marketing tactic. Smart positioning like this generates more press and loyalty than many more standard loyalty programs out there.

Loyalty programs such as the aforesaid programs which are tailored to their brand’s purpose, company mission and/or customer preferences will see more success. It is easier than ever for brands to spread the word about their loyalty programs due to the power of social media and blogging websites.

Learn more about how Thrive Commerce can tie into your brand’s loyalty card by visiting our site.

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