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The Best Ecommerce Solutions for Loyalty Programs – Comparison Guide for 2023
Julia Gaj
Julia Gaj
January 11, 2023
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The Best Ecommerce Solutions for Loyalty Programs – Comparison Guide for 2023

In an ever-competitive environment, ecommerce businesses find themselves vying for customers' attention amidst a cacophony of digital noise. However, with the strategic use of ecommerce loyalty programs, companies can encourage their clientele to choose them over spray-and-pray markdowns and discounts – leading to true brand devotion. But how to integrate a loyalty solution into your ecommerce stack and get started with this whole customer loyalty thing? With so many options out there, making an informed decision about what ecommerce loyalty software is right for your store can get overwhelming fast. That’s why I have put together this handy guide to loyalty integrations for ecommerce  – with everything from features & pricing breakdowns to pros & cons of specific tools, focusing particularly on ecommerce businesses. Let's get started!

Note: This guide collects standalone loyalty solutions that can be integrated into most commerce platforms. It does not include ready loyalty plugins with limited customization features, which is crucial for enterprise ecommerce brands wanting to build customer loyalty.

What is an ecommerce loyalty program?

An ecommerce loyalty program is a rewards program offered by an online retailer to incentivize repeat customers. The goal of a customer loyalty program is to increase customer retention and boost ecommerce sales by rewarding transactions and offering rewards and discounts to customers who make frequent purchases. There are many different types of loyalty programs, but some common features include earning points or credits for purchases, redeeming those points or credits for discounts or free products, and receiving special offers or exclusive benefits.

Examples of best ecommerce loyalty programs include:

  • Amazon Prime – provides members with free two-day shipping, access to streaming services, and other perks in exchange for an annual membership fee.
  • Target Circle – allows customers to earn 1% back on every purchase they make, as well as personalized discounts and offers.
  • My Best Buy – rewards customers with points for purchases and other activities, such as writing product reviews or signing up for the company's email list. Customers can then redeem those points for discounts on future purchases, boosting repeat business.

There are many different ways to design a loyalty program. The best program for a particular ecommerce business will depend on factors such as the products you sell, your customer base, and your overall business and marketing goals.

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What are the key features of robust ecommerce loyalty software?

Not all software is created equal. And with so many stakeholders in the game – from marketing to finances – the selection process of a loyalty solution is doomed to be lengthy and thorny. Luckily, there are some general rules you can follow to make an informed decision and choose the best ecommerce loyalty solution for your store to retain the most loyal customers.

Learn more: How to design customer loyalty software?

1. Ease of integration 

It might not be the most glamorous of features, yet it is definitely my number one. When thumbing through the vendor’s site and documentation, ensure that the chosen loyalty platform smoothly integrates into your existing workflow and connects with all necessary ecommerce tools like POS systems, social media managers, mail senders – even call centre tracking & CRM systems. Even better if, instead of plug-and-play integration, the given loyalty solution comes with a robust API infrastructure – this way, you can quickly build custom connections between your ecommerce store and the loyalty platform.

Another crucial aspect of developer-friendliness is mobile integration. In the mobile-first world, where consumers use smartphones for everything, it's important for businesses to have a mobile-friendly loyalty program. With a mobile app, you can make it easy for customers to earn points, redeem points, and manage rewards to increase customer engagement and brand loyalty.

Learn more: What are mobile-first loyalty programs? 

2. Loyalty program customization

Any solid loyalty solution should offer customization features that enable enterprises to build custom loyalty flows on top of unique business and customer data. Look out for customizable reward actions and prizes, custom points assignment and calculation and business-specific membership levels. 

3. Simple loyalty management

Keep in mind that customers are not the only group that will interact with your loyalty program daily. Behind every successful enterprise rewards scheme stands a crowd of committed marketers, customer success specialists, developers and plenty more. When selecting a vendor, ensure that the solution comes with handy features to smooth out the cooperation between teams and departments. Look for features such as approval workflows, user roles, friendly UI, campaign modification and duplication options. 

4. Advanced analytics and reporting

Good loyalty program software should provide detailed analytics and report on customer behavior and the program's performance. Even better if your staff can quickly access customer activity logs to track all loyalty interactions, such as the history of points, rewards, and other loyalty actions.

5. Gamification features

Gamification is the process of incorporating game design elements into non-game contexts to engage users and drive desired behaviors. In the context of loyalty programs, gamification can be used to make the experience more engaging and fun for customers, which can help to increase participation and engagement. A study by the University of Pennsylvania found that gamification can increase user engagement by up to 50%. Examples of loyalty gamification include leaderboards, scavenger hunts, challenges and virtual currencies.

Learn more: Common examples of promotions gamification

These are just some of the features that a good ecommerce loyalty software should have, but depending on your business needs, you may need to look for additional features, like referral programs, blockchain rewards or cashback.

5 best loyalty platforms for e-commerce stores

Here are my top 5 loyalty solutions for successful loyalty programs in the ecommerce business:

  1. Voucherify
  2. Smile.io
  3. Antavo
  4. LoyaltyLion
  5. OpenLoyalty

I will compare those solutions based on features, pricing and customer reviews found online (Capterra).

1. Voucherify Promotion Engine

"Voucherify is a great product that fills a niche gap in ecommerce."

User feedback: 4.7/5 (21 reviews)

Voucherify is an API-first Promotion Engine and loyalty software that gives you all the tools to customize your rewards program. Thanks to modular infrastructure and API-first program logic, your online loyalty program can be fully tailored to the needs of your ecommerce store. Thanks to its headless architecture, you get an extra level of flexibility to integrate the loyalty program into both your ecommerce store and physical POS to run virtually any ecommerce loyalty program – from cashback to paid loyalty programs.

Voucherify has plenty of loyalty features that will help you attract new customers and retain long-standing ones. Time-limited custom reward actions, pay-with-points functionality, robust point expiration mechanisms, referral programs, and gamified tiers allow ecommerce businesses reward customers in any way they want. Another huge benefit of using Voucherify is that it has five different campaign modules allowing you to keep all your discount, gift card, referral and giveaway campaigns in a single tool (with a single price tag).

Voucherify homepage

Pricing:

All pricing plans start with a prolongable and full-featured 30-day free trial. A free plan is also available. All regular plans are usage-based, cancel-any-time, and paid monthly. 

  • Startup plan – $179, 
  • Growth plan – $419, 
  • Professional plan – $629, 
  • Enterprise plan – custom. 

The pricing structure is based on the number of monthly API calls – allowing clients to scale up and down their monthly invoice based on the actual loyalty platform usage.

Drawbacks:

Voucherify is definitely the go-to loyalty solution to make complex requirements a breeze. But don't expect ready-made front-end components like cockpits and digital wallets – Voucherify is an easy-to-integrate back-end tool that requires some mandatory onboarding before you're up and running.

2. Smile.io

"The out-of-the-box functionalities are enough to create an engaging loyalty program. We eventually migrated to a different platform that provides more advanced features, but I recommend Smile.io to everyone in ecommerce and aims to launch a loyalty program in a short time."

User feedback: 4.6/5 (20 reviews)

Unlike Voucherify, Smile.io is a ready loyalty plugin for big ecommerce platforms (Shopify, BigCommerce and Wix). However, it does provide limited API access to build custom connections with ecommerce stores powered by different providers. Smile.io helps ecommerce shops build a rewarding loyalty experience to attract customers and keep them engaged. With their loyalty app, it's easy to customize rewards for customers – like discounts or points for performing a predefined action – all without any coding experience necessary. The platform supports point-based programs, VIP membership rewards and referrals.

Smile.io homescreen

Pricing:

Smile.io doesn't offer an open free trial. A free plan is available, though. Smile.io has feature-based pricing. 

  • Starter plan – $49
  • Growth plan – $199 
  • Pro – $599 
  • Enterprise – starts at $1000

Drawbacks:

Running a successful loyalty program through Smile.io presents limitations when attempting to enhance customer experience due to the lack of customization features. More advanced configuration is only available for those using enterprise plans and can become expensive fast – with rewards also being limited by the ecommerce platform used. As such, it may be difficult to gain value from this service without making a serious investment or compromising CX standards.

3. Antavo

"I like the fact that Antavo software is very user-friendly and that we can customize it according to our needs."

User feedback: 4.3/5 (15 reviews)

Antavo is a one-stop shop for ecommerce & retail loyalty solutions. Their platform enables effortless POS integration to cultivate omnichannel strategies tailored specifically to ecommerce and brick-and-mortar businesses alike. From paid programs, and referrals, to communities - Antavo offers the flexibility needed for all kinds of loyalty scenarios, including tiered rewards systems. Their focus on in-store technologies makes it a better fit for omnichannel or purely offline loyalty programs.

Similarly to Voucherify, Antavo offers an expansive API-based modular system. Thanks to developer-friendliness, the platform can be adapted to your unique business needs to keep customers engaged.

Antavo homescreen

Pricing:

There is no open free trial. Pricing is hidden.

Drawbacks:

As reported by online reviews, Antavo's customer support is failing to provide users with the timely help they deserve, leaving them frustrated. Compounding this issue, their abundance of features can make navigation a challenge for those unfamiliar with the platform – leading many new customers astray.

4. LoyaltyLion

"For the price compared to other solutions out there, it can't be beaten. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a loyalty program for their e-store."

User feedback: 4.8/5 (15 reviews)

LoyaltyLion is a good fit for ecommerce businesses using Shopify, BigCommerce or Magento. Not only does it provide features on both the back-end and front-end of a program but it also comes with a CSS theme editor that helps adjust the program look to match your unique brand style. It even goes further than this by offering API integration services so custom stores can benefit from their own tailored brand experience. Note that most essential loyalty features, such as pay-with-points or expiration mechanisms, are only available for higher plans (starting from $729/month).

LoyaltyLion homepage

Pricing:

Pricing: A 14-day trial is available (only if you have a store on Shopify, BigCommerce, or Magento). A free plan is available. LoyaltyLion offers an order- and feature-based pricing model.  

  • Classic plan – from $399
  • Advanced plan – from $729 
  • Plus plan – from $1 650

Drawbacks:

Despite allowing customization, creating custom rewards and earning actions may not be feasible due to the need for manual fulfilment and a tall paywall. Moreover, tiers are available only in advanced plans - making it difficult for small businesses to benefit from them. Design flexibility is strictly limited by default options, while support services provided on unique needs lack significantly as per user reviews online.

5. Open Loyalty

"We've implemented this solution with several clients and it's been a really quick and easy solution that has kept our customers happy."

User feedback: 4.8/5 (13 reviews)

Open Loyalty provides a comprehensive loyalty engine to help businesses incorporate engaging rewards programs into the marketing strategy with ease. By utilizing 50+ API-based building blocks, ecommerce companies can create personalized incentives that are catered to their needs and budget. With the ability to seamlessly scale via APIs only, Open Loyalty makes designing powerful rewards simple and cost-effective for any business model.

Open Loyalty home screen

Pricing:

Open Loyalty offers two pricing models – SaaS and on-premise. Unfortunately, both are hidden.

Drawbacks:

Managing individual rewards program configurations for multiple stores can be a daunting task. The platform requires plenty of custom development which is great if you're in need of a fully custom customer loyalty program but not so much if you are in a hurry to engage existing customers, mend customer relationships and increase repeat purchases.

Summary

The ecommerce industry is constantly evolving, and loyalty programs and the technology behind them are no exception. In time, I am confident we will see more gamification elements, sustainability features and blockchain technologies disrupting the way online retailers do loyalty.

If you are looking for comprehensive loyalty software to power a fully custom loyalty program in your online store, give Voucherify a try during a 30-day full-featured free trial. 

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