Reward Cards vs Reward Apps

  • by Extra Mile
  • 02.05.2024
  • Articles

Which loyalty program is best for your business?

As technology is adopted in almost every facet of our lives, businesses are often struggling to find new and exciting ways to keep up.

While utilising technology has a whole range of benefits, streamlining operations, increasing engagement and improving brand awareness, businesses that offer loyalty or rewards schemes for their customers may struggle to decide whether these programs should be run via traditional rewards cards or by new reward apps.

Let’s take a closer look at this common dilemma and help you to decide which loyalty program is best suited to your business.  


The appeal of apps

It’s easy to see why many might consider adopting mobile apps for their loyalty schemes, they offer convenience and make it easy for users to access information such as points tracking, seeing recent orders and redeeming new offers.

Apps also allow businesses to send direct notifications to users, giving information about a new sale or upcoming events.

It is worth mentioning however, that rewards apps do also present some users with challenges.


Not everyone is tech savvy

The first consideration you need to make as a business when deciding between cards or apps for your rewards program is who are your primary customers / target audience, and what do they actually want?

Whilst younger generations may be perfectly comfortable with using apps for almost everything nowadays, the same cannot always be said for older customers.

Some people find it difficult to understand how an app may work and might not like the idea of fumbling around with their phone at the till.

For businesses that do target an older demographic of clientele, introducing an app may present customers with an unwanted challenge and create a negative experience.  

Also, apps just by their very nature can be prone to glitches, technical errors and the classic ‘no internet connection found’, leading to frustration from users that can result in abandoned baskets and a decline in loyalty.


Keeping it simple

A significant amount of consumers still enjoy the simplicity of a physical loyalty card.

Being able to grab it from their purse or wallet and give it a quick scan at the checkout removes any technical difficulties that can present themselves with an app, meaning customers can enjoy all the benefits of their rewards scheme without worrying about running out of battery, having no internet connection or a lack of technical proficiency.

This simplicity ensures that their loyalty program is always accessible and in turn increases the likelihood of return custom.

Also, a physical card acts as a constant reminder of your brand everytime a purse/wallet is opened, keeping you at the forefront of their mind and maintains that physical connection between business and customer.


Finding the balance

Our advice for businesses who are struggling with the Card vs App debate would be to offer both.

Give your customers the choice of whether they would prefer a physical loyalty card or the option to download an app, ideally most customers would like to choose both!

This hybrid approach means that users get the best of both worlds and also allows you to reach a wider customer base as all preferences are catered to.

The sign up can be quick and easy too, for customers who already have a loyalty card, provide QR codes in your store that lead them to your app, from here a customer can simply enter their existing rewards card number and the details they used upon initial sign up to create an in app account.

For those who have signed up for the app but don’t have a physical card, provide an option for customers to get a card delivered or collect one in-store.

Giving your customers this flexibility enhances the overall experience and in turn, improves their relationship with your brand.


Be realistic about long term costs

Business owners are often making the move from physical loyalty cards to an online app, under the impression that it will save them money in the long run once they have paid for the upfront development costs. In a perfect world, an app should be cheaper than physical cards, but in reality, snagging issues and technical glitches can cost businesses huge amounts of money.

The ongoing maintenance and security costs to keep an app running should not be underestimated. Remember, apps need to be constantly updated to keep up with changing smartphone and tablet operating systems. Similarly consider the reputational damages to your brand when apps prove frustrating and unusable.

You can count on a physical loyalty card to work well, all the time.  There are no emergency calls to your development team to fix things, or angry customers calling up to complain about the app. Bear this in mind as you weigh up your options.


Explore Precision Card Services

At Precision Card Services, we are a leading card manufacturer that specialise in producing the highest quality made from 100% recycled PVC & eco-degradable plastic and board cards to suit a range of applications, including –

Thanks to our advanced manufacturing capabilities, our loyalty cards can be seamlessly integrated into mobile apps and your customer loyalty system, plus with our modern technology and enhanced printing applications, we can help you to create eye-catching cards that stand the test of time.

We have provided customised cards to some of the country’s most well-known brands including Pets at Home, Premier Inn, and Cineworld. See our work here!

If you’re ready to add specialised plastic cards and enhance your customer loyalty, speak to our team to discuss your requirements. 

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