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E-commerce Loyalty Programs: An All-encompassing Handbook

In the competitive world of e-commerce today, companies are always looking for new ways to keep customers and get them to buy again. One strategy like this that has become very common is the use of e-commerce loyalty programs.

An e-commerce loyalty program is a customer retention strategy designed to encourage repeat purchases and long-term engagement from online shoppers. Just like traditional loyalty programs, E-commerce loyalty programs aim to build strong relationships with customers by offering them incentives, rewards, and personalized experiences that keep them coming back to the online store.

E-commerce loyalty programs provide businesses with a powerful tool to enhance customer engagement. By offering rewards, exclusive discounts, and personalized experiences, these programs create a sense of value and exclusivity for customers. They encourage customers to actively participate in the brand’s ecosystem, whether by purchasing, referring friends, or connecting with the company on social media.

By implementing an effective e-commerce loyalty program, businesses can unlock the true potential of customer engagement and reap the benefits it brings.

Benefits of Implementing an E-commerce Loyalty Program

Implementing an e-commerce loyalty program can bring a multitude of benefits to businesses.

Firstly, it helps in customer acquisition and retention. Businesses may attract new clients and encourage existing ones to stay loyal to the brand by providing appealing prizes and incentives.

This results in a higher return on investment and enhanced client lifetime value.

Secondly, loyalty programs can drive customer engagement and increase customer satisfaction. When customers feel respected and appreciated, they are more inclined to engage with the business and have a positive experience.

This can result in higher customer loyalty, lower churn rates, and increased brand advocacy.

Lastly, e-commerce loyalty programs give companies valuable information and insights about their customers. Businesses can learn more about their target audience by keeping track of their customers’ behavior and interests.

Then, this information can be used to customize marketing efforts, improve products, and give customers a more personalized experience.

Types of E-commerce Loyalty Programs

Businesses can use different types of loyalty programs for e-commerce, and each has its own set of benefits. Let’s explore some of the most popular types:

Point-Based Systems

Point-based loyalty programs are perhaps the most common type of e-commerce loyalty program. Every time a customer makes a purchase, they accumulate points, and these points can be redeemed for discounts, free products, or other rewards. This type of program is simple to understand and encourages repeat purchases.

Point-based loyalty program

Advantages of Point-Based Systems

  • They are easy to understand and implement. Customers can easily track their points balance and see how much they need to earn to get the rewards they want. Businesses can also set up point-based systems with minimal effort and cost, using various tools and platforms available online.
  • They encourage repeat purchases and customer loyalty. Customers are motivated to buy more often from the same business, in order to accumulate more points and get closer to their desired rewards. Businesses can also use points as a way to incentivize customers to perform other actions, such as referrals, reviews, social media engagement, etc.
  • They offer flexibility and personalization for both customers and businesses. Various incentives are available to customers, which suit their preferences and needs, such as discounts, free products, digital gift cards, etc. Businesses can customize their point-based systems to fit their brand identity and customer segments, by adjusting the point value, redemption options, expiration rules, etc.
  • They create a sense of gamification and excitement for customers. Customers can enjoy the thrill of earning points and redeeming rewards, as well as competing with other customers or themselves. Businesses can also use gamification elements, such as badges, levels, leaderboards, etc., to make their point-based systems more fun and engaging.

Tiered Rewards

In tiered reward programs, customers are placed into different tiers based on their level of engagement and loyalty. The higher they go in tier, the more specialized the awards and benefits they receive. This type of program creates a sense of progression and encourages customers to strive for higher levels of engagement.

Tiered reward loyalty program

Advantages of Tiered Rewards

  • Enhanced Engagement: Tiered rewards create a sense of achievement and progression for customers. As they move up the tiers, they feel a sense of accomplishment, which keeps them engaged with the loyalty program.
  • Motivation for Spending: The prospect of unlocking higher-tier rewards motivates customers to spend more to reach the next level. This can lead to increased average transaction values and overall spending.
  • Customer Recognition: Higher-tier customers receive special recognition for their loyalty, making them feel valued and appreciated by the brand.
  • Exclusivity: Tiered rewards often come with exclusive perks, such as early access to sales, unique products, or special events. This sense of exclusivity encourages customer retention and engagement.
  • Cross-Selling and Upselling: Businesses can strategically design tiered rewards to promote specific products or services, encouraging customers to explore different offerings.
  • Long-Term Brand Affiliation: Customers who are invested in the tiered rewards are more likely to have a deeper emotional connection with the brand, fostering long-term loyalty.

Subscription-Based Memberships

Subscription-based loyalty programs, such as Amazon Prime, offer customers exclusive benefits in exchange for a monthly or annual fee. These benefits can include free shipping, access to exclusive deals, and other perks. By offering a premium membership, businesses can generate recurring revenue and increase customer loyalty.

Subscription-based loyalty program

Advantages of Subscription-based Membership

  • Enhanced Customer Loyalty. Continuous commitment makes subscribers more loyal to a brand. They have a vested interest in maximizing the benefits of their membership.
  • Recurring Marketing Opportunities. Businesses can consistently engage with subscribers through marketing efforts, promoting new products, exclusive offers, and updates, fostering ongoing brand awareness.
  • Personalization and customization. This type enables personalization and customization for both customers and businesses. Customers can choose from different plans, tiers, or options that suit their preferences and needs. Businesses can also tailor their memberships to fit their brand identity and customer segments, by adjusting the pricing, benefits, frequency, etc.
  • Community Building. Subscription-based memberships often create a sense of community among subscribers who share common interests. This can lead to increased brand advocacy and customer referrals.
  • Free Trial Conversion. Offering free trials as part of a subscription model allows customers to experience the benefits firsthand before committing. This can lead to higher conversion rates.

Cashback Offers

Cashback loyalty programs give customers a percentage of their purchase amount back as cash or store credit. This type of program provides an immediate incentive for customers to make purchases and can be particularly effective in driving repeat purchases.

Cashback loyalty program

Advantages of Cashback Offers

  • Customer Acquisition: Cashback offers can attract new customers who are enticed by the prospect of getting money back on their purchases. These offers serve as an incentive for customers to try out the brand or product.
  • Repeat Purchases: Customers return more often to redeem cashback benefits, resulting in repeat purchases and ongoing customer engagement.
  • Higher Average Order Value: Customers may increase their order value to maximize their cashback rewards, leading to larger transactions and increased profitability.
  • Seasonal and Promotional Campaigns: Cashback offers can be strategically aligned with seasonal sales events, holidays, or product launches to further drive customer engagement and sales.
  • Positive referrals: This e-commerce loyalty program generates positive word-of-mouth and referrals. It can create a buzz and a competitive edge for the business, as customers may share their experiences and savings with their friends and family. For consumers who invite others to join or make purchases from the business, several cashback programs may additionally offer referral bonuses or incentives.
  • Valuable data and insights: This program provides data and insights into customer behavior and preferences. The business can collect and analyze data from customer purchases, such as what products or services they buy, how much they spend, how often they shop, etc. This data can help the business tailor its offerings, promotions, and services to meet the customer’s needs and expectations.

Hybrid Programs

Hybrid loyalty programs combine elements of multiple types of programs to create a unique and tailored experience for customers. For example, a hybrid program might offer both points-based rewards and tiered benefits. This type can cater to a wider range of customer preferences and maximize engagement.

Hybrid loyalty program

Advantages of Hybrid Programs

  • Customer engagement and loyalty: This program increases customer engagement and loyalty across multiple channels and touchpoints. Customers can redeem points or incentives for purchases and other actions, such as referrals, reviews, social media engagement, etc. Businesses can also use hybrid programs to communicate and interact with their customers, by providing feedback, support, education, entertainment, etc.
  • Growth and innovation: Hybrid Programs drive growth and innovation for the business by providing valuable data and insights into customer behavior and preferences. By collecting and analyzing data from hybrid programs, the business can better understand the customer’s needs and expectations, and offer them more relevant and personalized solutions.
  • Targeted Marketing: With access to more data from various reward types, businesses can refine their marketing strategies and offer more personalized promotions to customers.
  • Appealing to Different Customer Segments: Businesses can appeal to a broader customer base by offering rewards that resonate with different customer segments. For example, points might attract some customers, while cashback appeals to others.
  • Seasonal Flexibility: Businesses can adjust the types of rewards offered based on seasonal demand or promotional campaigns, increasing program relevance and effectiveness.
  • Cross-Promotion: Hybrid programs can encourage cross-promotion of different products or services within the business by offering rewards or discounts across various categories.

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Designing an Effective E-commerce Loyalty Program

Designing an effective e-commerce loyalty program requires careful planning and consideration. Here are some key factors to keep in mind:

Clearly Defined Goals

Before implementing a loyalty program, businesses need to define their goals and objectives. Are they aiming to increase customer acquisition, boost customer retention, or drive higher customer engagement? By clearly defining the goals, businesses can design a loyalty program that aligns with their overall business strategy.


Personalization is key to creating a successful e-commerce loyalty program. Customers want to feel valued and appreciated as individuals. By tailoring rewards and offers based on customer preferences and behavior, businesses can create a personalized experience that resonates with their target audience.

Seamless Integration

An effective loyalty program should seamlessly integrate with the existing e-commerce platform. Customers should be able to easily earn and redeem rewards without any friction. Businesses can achieve this by leveraging technology and automation to track customer activity and deliver rewards in a timely manner. For example, implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) software provides businesses with an overview of customer data for personalized rewards and timely support, or incorporating interactive voice response (IVR) technology empowers loyal customers to effortlessly check point balance and claim rewards within minutes using voice commands.

Ongoing Evaluation and Optimization

Once a loyalty program is implemented, it’s important to continuously evaluate its effectiveness and make necessary optimizations. To measure program performance, businesses should track customer retention, repeat purchase rate, and satisfaction. Based on these insights, adjustments can be made to improve the program’s performance.

10 Case Studies of Successful E-commerce Loyalty Programs

Let’s take a closer look at five successful e-commerce loyalty programs and the strategies they employed to boost customer engagement:

Amazon Prime

As the largest online retailer, Amazon offers its customers a membership loyalty program called Amazon Prime. With more than200 million users around the world, this is one of the best and most well-known loyalty programs in the e-commerce business.

Amazon has made an excellent loyalty program that encourages customers to stay loyal and involved by giving them free shipping, access to special deals, and streaming services.

Amazon Prime benefits

With Amazon Prime, members can receive various incentives such as same-day, one-day, and two-day shipping on millions of items, along with discounts and free shipping. Prime members also get access to Prime Gaming, offering a free monthly Twitch subscription, free games, and exclusive in-game content.

Additionally, Prime members receive Rx Savings with prescription discounts at 60,000 pharmacies nationwide, including Walgreens, CVS, and Amazon Pharmacy. Prime Reading provides access to hundreds of new books, magazines, and more every month. Furthermore, Prime offers a “try before you buy” option for fashion items, allowing you to try them on and only pay for what you keep. And for qualified University or Government Aid students, there’s up to 50% off available.

The benefits of Amazon Prime have contributed to Amazon’s market dominance, increased customer spending, and competitive advantage over other e-commerce platforms. Additionally, the program has led to higher customer engagement and satisfaction, and it has provided a stable revenue stream for Amazon through its subscription model. Amazon Prime Day, an annual sales event exclusive to Prime members, has become one of the biggest online shopping events globally, further highlighting the success of the program and attracting new subscribers.


Walmart+ is a loyalty program that offers a wide range of benefits, including free unlimited delivery, fuel discounts, and scan-and-go checkout. Members can earn 5% Walmart Cash on hotel bookings, vacation and car rentals, tours, activities, and more through Walmart+ Travel. They also enjoy free delivery of fresh groceries and other essentials from local stores, with no delivery fees and reasonable in-store prices.

Loyalty Walmart program

Other perks include early access to discounts and product releases, member prices on fuel at over 2,000 Walmart, Murphy USA, Murphy Express, and Sam’s Club gas stations, mobile scan and go checkout, free access to the streaming service Paramount+ Essential, and video streaming with Pluto TV.

The program’s success is evident from the fact that 11% of Americans had signed up for the Walmart+ loyalty program within two weeks of its launch, and Walmart has more than 30 million subscribers. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon has said “Over time, more and more of our customers will want Walmart+ because it makes life better.”

The program’s success could help Walmart gain even more market share during the holiday season, as44% of retailersclaim that loyalty program members contribute at least 40% of total revenue, according to the 2019 TouchPoints Retail Customer Acquisition and Retention Benchmark Report. Additionally, 68% of retailers gained new online customers due to the pandemic.


Costco ‘s loyalty program, Costco membership, offers customers access to wholesale prices and exclusive discounts. The program has a tiered approach, providing benefits and rewards based on the level of membership. This approach has created a sense of exclusivity and encourages customers to upgrade their membership.

Costco membership

Over 90% of members have renewed their memberships, which shows that the program has worked to keep customers coming back. During the pandemic, Costco has also added10 million new members.

The program leverages Costco’s existing strengths in both in-store and online sales, with online sales expected to grow by 21.4% annually from 2019 to 2021. Costco offers free delivery and curbside pickup for orders over $35, attracting customers who value convenience and low prices. Additionally, the program helps Costco develop and innovate by delivering consumer behavior and preference data, which can be used to improve products and services and launch new products and services.

Target Redcard

Target Redcard

Target Redcard is a card program that offers customers a 5% discount on all purchases. You might also get extra perks depending on the type of card you pick. Redcard holders get a discount and also get free shipping on online orders and longer return windows. Customers are encouraged to shop at Target by this program, which gives them extra perks for being loyal.

The program has been successful in driving growth and innovation for Target by providing valuable data insights. It also leads to higher spending among cardholders, who tend to spend about 50% more per year than non-cardholders. Simple and consistent value offerings, ease of use, freedom, exclusivity, special deals, relationships, and an easy application process are some of the things that have made the program so successful.

Home Depot Pro

Home Depot Pro

Home Depot Pro is a loyalty program tailored for construction professionals, offering benefits like bulk pricing, job site delivery, and personalized product recommendations. Members earn rewards for every dollar spent, with perks like Pro Xtra Dollars, Tool Rental Credit, and Fuel Rewards. They can also access online tools, receive Paint Rewards, and participate in a Volume Pricing Program.

Home Depot Pro has increased loyalty and retention among professional customers, who account for about 45% of sales. The program has also boosted online sales and digital engagement, with online sales growing by 21.4% in fiscal 2019 and representing 8.9% of total sales. About 60% of online orders were picked up in stores, indicating a high level of convenience and integration for customers.

Because it gives Home Depot useful information about how professional customers behave and what they like, the program has also helped the company grow and come up with creative solutions. The information given by Home Depot can help the company make sure that its products, deals, and services meet the needs and want of its greatest customers.


Sephora’s Beauty Insider program is a tiered loyalty system that rewards its loyal clientele. The program has three distinct levels: Insider, VIB, and Rouge. Each tier is determined by the annual spend, with Insider being free to join, VIB requiring a $350 yearly spend, and Rouge needing a $1,000 annual expenditure.

Sephora's Beauty Insider program

You can get free standard shipping as a member, use 500 points to get a $10 discount, and you can get discounts of 10% to 20% during yearly sales events. The perks get even better as a member moves up the tiers.

Members of VIB and Rouge, for example, can take advantage of events that double or triple points, end-of-year savings, and auto-replenish services which give a 5% discount on subscriber orders. Members in the Rouge tier can trade in 2,500 points for $100 off their purchase. At the same time, every user gets a free gift on their birthday, and the gifts get better as you move up the levels.

This is a great example of a tiered reward system: Sephora’s Beauty Insider program. It not only encourages people to spend money, but it also makes sure that the most trustworthy consumers get the best benefits. To add this kind of program, you need to know your customers well and be dedicated to giving real value at every level.

Flipkart Plus

Flipkart, India’s leading online retailer, has its own product line called DigiFlip, featuring laptop bags, tablets, and USB flash drives, alongside a broad range of other products. In 2021, the company’s revenue reached $5 billion.

In 2018, Flipkart launched Flipkart Plus, a points-based loyalty program for customers who buy from them often. You can join for free, and for every 100 Indian Rupees ($1.32) you spend at Flipkart, you get four SuperCoins. A customer must have bought something in the last 12 months and earned 200 SuperCoins in order to become a Plus member.

Example of Flipkart Plus's loyalty points strategy

As a Flipkart Plus member, you can get fast and free shipping, early access to big sales, and better customer service. There are also special Flipkart Pay Later choices for them and services from ecosystem members in travel, living, health, and exercise. They can also earn double SuperCoins. You can only buy 100 coins at a time, and the coins expire after a year.

The reward program has been a huge success, with growth of over 100% year over year. Plus members now make up about 30% of Flipkart’s monthly active buyers. Compared to other shoppers, they buy 5 times as much and spend 7 times as much. Flipkart gives out more than 1 billion SuperCoins every month, which have many uses for users.

Annmarie Skin Care

Annmarie Skin Care offers the Wild & Beautiful Collective loyalty program, where members earn points for purchases and specific activities, with opportunities to earn double or triple points. These points can be redeemed for discounts on new purchases.

Annmarie Skin Care

Additionally, there’s a special tier called Wild & Beautiful Collective Insiders, accessible by subscribing to Annmarie products. Insiders enjoy exclusive discounts, access to educational resources, and priority access to new offerings, enhancing their skincare journey. This subscription-based loyalty program provides another avenue to increase customer lifetime value.

Bed Threads

Bed Threads has introduced an innovative loyalty program called “Dream Club” to reward its loyal customers. Members immediately receive 80 Bed Creds upon joining, the program’s unique currency. They can earn more Creds with every dollar spent and through social media engagement, birthday celebrations, and SMS subscriptions.

Dream Club loyalty program

These Credits unlock exclusive discounts, ranging from $35 to a generous $120. The program’s tiered membership system allows members to progress from “Dreamer” to “Napper,” “Early Riser,” and finally to “Deep Sleeper.” Each tier offers its own set of perks, from early access to new products to special birthday bonuses and exclusive sale events.

dream club tiers

For those who love to share, the “Share the Dream” initiative offers both the member and a friend a $20 discount. The Dream Club effectively blends shopping incentives with engagement rewards, all wrapped up in a tiered system that encourages more interaction and purchases. As you consider crafting a similar program for your business, remember to align the rewards with your audience’s preferences and your brand’s ethos.

Share the Dream discount

MZ Wallace

MZ Wallace offers a tiered loyalty program where customers earn and redeem points based on their spending. Customers earn one point for every dollar spent, and every 10 points can be redeemed for a $1 discount. The program consists of three tiers:

MZ Wallace

  • Silver: For customers spending between $0 and $199.
  • Gold: For those spending between $200 and $1199.
  • Platinum: For high spenders with purchases of $1,200 or more.

Members enjoy perks such as early product launch access, double points days, VIP events, free shipping, and exclusive gifts. Adopting a similar loyalty program can encourage repeat purchases and build customer loyalty.

Unlocking Success Through E-commerce Loyalty Programs

E-commerce loyalty programs have become a powerful tool for businesses to boost customer engagement and drive long-term success. By implementing the right type of loyalty program, businesses can incentivize customers to stay loyal, make repeat purchases, and become brand advocates. By designing an effective program that aligns with their goals and continuously evaluating their performance, businesses can unlock the true potential of customer engagement and the path to success in the e-commerce industry.

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Marketing Manager of Mageplaza. Summer is attracted by new things. She loves writing, travelling and photography. Perceives herself as a part-time gymmer and a full-time dream chaser.
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