Did you know that building brand loyalty for your cafe can boost your overall profitability and save you money?

Bain & Co released a report done on cost-cutting measures for businesses and the results were stunning. The study found that a 5% rise in customer retention can boost profitability by 75%.

With such a statistic in mind you may wonder, how do you ensure that customers come back again and again?

The best way to encourage people to make your cafe the go-to spot amidst competitors is by introducing a cafe loyalty card for your business. Let’s see why.

Why Should You Offer Cafe Loyalty Cards?

coffee loyalty card template

Just because customers like your cafe doesn’t mean that they will keep coming back on their own. Some people may forget about the great experience they had with your business and others may simply get carried away by other important activities.

So you need to be proactive about customer retention by crafting a structured approach that ensures that the awesome experience you offered stays in the mind of customers as long as possible. And that’s where a cafe loyalty program comes in.

What is a Cafe Loyalty Program?

A cafe Loyalty program is a coffee shop’s marketing strategy that offers customers rewards for purchasing from the cafe. Over time, the rewards help to retain customers and turn them into regular patrons.

The program can be implemented via coupons, a physical cafe loyalty card, or a fully-functional loyalty card app.

What is a Cafe Loyalty Card?

A loyalty card is an identification card that’s given by a cafe to its current customers as part of an incentive scheme/loyalty program, in which credits are gathered in the card at every recorded eligible transaction between the customer and the cafe to be exchanged for future rewards.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cafe Loyalty Cards Programs

Loyalty cards can be a bit confusing and as such so many questions arise regarding the effectiveness and efficacy of such incentive schemes, so let’s have a look at 2 of the most frequently asked questions regarding cafe loyalty programs.

#1 Do I Build a Coffee Loyalty Card Program Myself or Use a Loyalty Provider?

The DIY route for loyalty card programs is more time-consuming and expensive as you need to dedicate staff to research customer behavior, the latest loyalty trends, and know-how, as well as oversee and build the entire concept.

With regards to costs, building a loyalty card app will require a huge investment to hire developers. Alternatively, there are digital loyalty card apps available for a monthly subscription fee.

Using a loyalty provider is much more cost-effective because you won’t have to create the system from the ground up. You can also tap on the convenience of having loyalty experts that you can reach out to at will regarding the best practices and pitfalls concerning creating a coffee loyalty card program.

#2 Do Cafe Loyalty Cards Work?

Absolutely! Cafe loyalty cards work and the great thing about them is that they’re beneficial to all participants. 75% of customers state that they are more likely to shop with a brand after receiving incentives.

You’re not just asking customers to spend more and more on a business that they love but you’re offering them an incentive to do so.

And unlike coupons loyalty cards are a lot more convenient. They simplify an otherwise confusing and hard to measure process.

All the customer needs to come in with is either their digital coffee loyalty card app or a physical card that’s scanned, rather than chunky coupons.

Examples of Cafe with Loyalty Card Programs

Now now we’ve understood the most important aspect of a coffee loyalty program

#1 Starbucks Rewards – Loyalty Card App and Physical Card

Now retailers use loyalty card apps to manage their loyalty programs but at the time Starbucks introduced My Starbucks Rewards via the Starbucks app, it was a fresh idea.

Starbucks runs its Cafe Loyalty Card Program via the app which makes it extremely easy for customers. It eliminates the need for carrying physical punch cards around that could be lost or forgotten as well as sign-in requirements.

In the Starbucks Rewards program, customers pay or order using the Starbucks app to earn points or stars in this case.

By centralizing the customer transactions Starbucks created a gold mine of data revealing customer behavior and preferences. Aspects like the customer’s go-to drink orders, frequently visited locations, customer lifetime value, and seasonal favorites were discovered.

This makes it easy for Starbucks to gather information on all of such customer habits, which empowers them to offer more relevant communication and perks to their loyal customers.

#2 Dunkin Donuts (DD Perks Rewards Program) – Loyalty Card App

The Dunkin donuts perks reward program is implemented with a loyalty card app that serves not just as a reward card but as an ordering platform and a digital wallet at the same time.

With the Dunkin Donuts loyalty card app, you can make mobile payments via Apple Pay, MasterCard digital payment, or DD Gift Cards for orders online, which allows you to skip the physical queue at the store. And with every purchase loyalty members earn points that they can redeem after a particular number of points for a free beverage.

Loyalty program members can also share their points with friends and family, which acts as word-of-mouth for the brand.

#3 Coffee Republic – Physical Contactless Card 

The Coffee Republic teamed up with sQuid card to create a contactless card for their loyalty program. The loyalty card doesn’t just store loyalty points that are redeemable in-store but can also offer contactless payments.

Loyalty program members can register the card and view loyalty points and transactions online. And the card can be topped up either online or in-store.

#4 Costa Coffee – Loyalty Card App and Physical Card 

The Costa Coffee loyalty program is implemented via a physical cafe loyalty card or loyalty card app. Program members just need to have the app on their phones or a card when they visit a Costa Coffee location and they get 5 points for every dollar spent on anything in the store.

Plus, the loyalty card app also allows members to “jump the queue” by ordering ahead on the app before collecting the order in store.

#5 Tim Horton’s – Tim’s Rewards Program, Physical Card and Digital Card App 

Loyalty members of the Tim’s Rewards Program can receive 10 redeemable points per eligible visit (or by ordering online before pickup at the store) onto their physical or digital loyalty card.

The physical cafe loyalty card is linked to the Tim Hortons app, where members can view their loyalty points and redeem them.

#6 Plain Vanilla – Digital Loyalty Program

Plain Vanilla is a case study in a cafe that focuses on the customer. With four outlets in Singapore, they’ve carved out a niche for their brand: a pocket of quietness, a refuge from the stress and the city.

As part of their efforts to make their space welcoming and comforting, they used CandyBar for their digital loyalty program. This encouraged regulars to make a cup of Plain Vanilla coffee a daily routine. Staff also used CandyBar to start conversations and learn the names of customers, deepening relationships and making Plain Vanilla a refuge.

candybar loyalty case study plain vanilla bakery cafe loyalty card

Case Study –  How Plain Vanilla Delighted Regulars with CandyBar

The program was a success, with a number of customers making three or more visits a week.

#7 Caffe Nero – Loyalty Card App

Like most cafe loyalty programs on this list, the Caffe Nero app doesn’t just offer a place to store and redeem points but the ability to beat queues while earning rewards.

Loyalty members can link their credit and debit cards to the loyalty card app for seamless payments and to order online before going in-store for pickup. The rewards gotten from purchases in-store or via the app can then be redeemed for rewards.

#8 McCafe – Loyalty Card App

The McCafe loyalty card app works in-app or on-site, meaning you have to order a free McCafe drink via the app, and after buying 5 you can exchange points gotten for rewards. For in-store, loyalty members just need to scan when ordering, mention a code that’s shown to them via the app and the redeemable points will be given to the customer.

#9 Panera – Physical Card 

Panera’s loyalty program called MyPanera gives a physical loyalty card to program members and they are to present the card whenever they visit Panera cafe.

With every purchase, MyPanera members earn points onto their cafe loyalty cards that customers can exchange for rewards in the future. Members also have access to special birthday rewards.

How to Create Your Cafe Loyalty Card Program

You need a well thought out process to create your own successful cafe loyalty card program.

So here are a few tips to help you structure the process.

#1 Identify Your Rewards

A loyalty card program exists because of the rewards promised, as customers will join the program because of the incentives attached to their being a part of the program. So you need to ensure that your rewards are worth the customer’s time.

To do this, make sure that you offer relevant rewards. For example, people go to a cafe majorly to buy coffee, so giving loyalty card program members a free coffee for an incentive would be great, as it’s a gift that loyal cafe customers would be interested in.

#2 Choose How You Intend to Run Your Cafe Loyalty Program

You can run your loyalty card program in various ways but you need to choose how you intend to do so before you get the program up and running.

There are 3 major options to running your program:

#1 Print Your Loyalty Cards

coffee loyalty card template

You can opt to go the physical route as so many popular cafes do. However, physical loyalty cards come with their limitations.

For instance, the customer may forget it when visiting your store, which means they miss out on gaining points that day. And such happenings if frequent may discourage customers from continuing with the program.

Physical cards are also unable to aid customer data collection.

#2 Create Your Loyalty App

You can hire full-time developers to create your loyalty app but this is a very expensive approach and unless you’re a big brand with money to spare, creating your loyalty app may be too costly. To save the budget, you can hire Flutter app developers and build a cross-platform app that runs similarly on both iOS and Android.

#3 Use a Loyalty Program Software Service

Technology works.

A study attempting to classify and identify business software revealed that there were over 947 products across 43 categories of business promotion applications. And the numbers multiplied by the years. This shows that brands know the importance of having software that boosts the customer’s experience.

That’s where a loyalty program software comes in.

Loyalty Program Software is the most cost-effective and seamless way to create a loyalty card app. Third-party loyalty software services like Candybar.co give you access to a team of experts solely focused on ensuring the success of your loyalty card app.

#3 Promote Your Loyalty Program

Just like a new product, you need to promote your loyalty program, as it can only attract customers who know about it. Some of the ways you can carry out promotion are by:

#1 Training Cashiers

Train your cashiers on how to inform customers who fit into a particular segment that the brand offers a loyalty program that will benefit them while they are handling in-store orders.

#2 Social Media Posts

Most of your customers are on social media platforms and even prospects who can become customers because of your loyalty program are also on social media. So it’ll make sense to send posts, ads, or even influencer promotions on channels where your followers and target audience are and by this you can boost awareness about your loyalty card program.

#3 Newsletters

Anyone who subscribes to receive your daily, weekly, or monthly newsletter obviously wants to be in on the latest happenings of your business. And you can take advantage of this by informing all subscribers about your loyalty program and all its benefits when it’s launched.


A cafe loyalty card program helps you to create a proactive structure that ensures customer retention and loyalty.

The perks, benefits, or incentives offered to clients motivates them to keep accumulating points till they can redeem them for the reward. And as we saw, brands like Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Panera .etc, all implement this system with amazing results, because it works.

So why the wait? Get proactive about your customer’s loyalty today!

If you’re interested in boosting your word-of-mouth marketing strategy, check out ReferralCandy and InfluencerCandy!

Emmanuel Egeonu

Posted by Emmanuel Egeonu