You’d think something as simple as a digital stamp card app would be easy to find. However, if you’ve done any searching on the web, you’ll find that the options for small business owners are surprisingly limited. Why is this, and is there anything you can do about it?
What Is a Punch Card App or Mobile Punch Card?
A “punch card app” or “mobile punch card” refers to the digital version of your standard paper coffee card. You know the one I mean. Get a stamp for every coffee you buy, and the 20th is free. A “punch card app” or “loyalty stamp card app” replicates the function of these simple paper coffee cards, but you keep a digital version of the card on your phone, either online or on an app.
The Different Types of Punch Card Apps
While all punch card apps provide the same basic mechanic with respect to the design of the card and the concept of earning stamps per visit, however, there is remarkable variety in the way these stamp cards operate. Some apps will use a special NFC dongle to add stamps to your customer’s digital stamp card. Other apps use beacon technology to do the same thing. My company, Flex Rewards, issues stamps to customers by displaying a QR code.
Benefits of a Digital Punch Card Loyalty Program
There are 2 main reasons why businesses are migrating to digital stamp card apps:
1. Customer Engagement
One thing a digital stamp card can do which a paper card can’t is speak to customers. With an app installed on your customer’s phone you suddenly have the ability to issue reminders, push notifications, small messages, and alerts. You can even get bookings and customer feedback through the app. This 2-way communication channel directly with your customer is, frankly, priceless.
2. Customer Retention
Let’s face it, customers are bombarded with choice. With the average american spending more than 5.8 hours per day on their phone, people are flooded with Facebook and YouTube ads that are trying to tempt your customers away. How do you get your customer’s attention, and fend off all the competing noise?
The answer is clear. Know your customer. If you have the names and emails of your customers, there’s a surprisingly huge amount of custom audience targeting you can do on digital platforms like Facebook and Google. Instead of fiddling with demographic and location parameters on your Facebook or Google Ads settings, you can literally upload your customer list and get your brand in front of your audience on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Not only that, you can also target “lookalike” audiences to reach new customers that match the demographic and interest profiles of your existing customer base.
Thus, digital punch apps are really a tool to get customer data, so that small businesses can start competing more effectively in the digital arena.
Cons of Mobile Punch Card Apps
Some customers just prefer the tactile feel of a physical card and find it hard to migrate to a virtual loyalty card. For these customers, a paper or plastic card feels more “real” than a digital loyalty card. If you have customers in the older demographic, then you might want to consider deploying a digital card alongside an existing physical card system.
Another downside can be complexity. For busy cafes and bars, the last thing you want is bottlenecks at checkout while customers try to remember passwords to login. A good digital loyalty platform should work seamlessly to avoid any interruption in service. For example, Flex Rewards doesn’t require any “customer look ups” on POS machines which saves an average of 3-4 minutes at checkout. This time-saving adds up.
Is a Mobile Punch Card Program Right for You?
This really depends on they type of business you operate. If your business relies on regular customer visits then a virtual stamp card is an excellent option. There’s really no question that stamp cards improve customer retention. A digital one gives you the added benefit of collecting customer data. The costs of deploying a digital loyalty platform should really be marginal for the extra benefit you should be getting. At the very least, you’ll get customers hooked on collecting your loyalty stamps. At the very best, you’ll be able to use your data to do a better job of boosting customer activity and growing your audience.