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Rewards Inspiration

Top 4 Cafe Loyalty Program Ideas

For most adults, the morning isn’t complete without coffee. There are countless types of coffees, and breakfast wouldn’t be the same without a freshly brewed mug of arabica, robusta, sumatra, or any other coffee variety.

If you own and operate a café, coffee shop, or any establishment that serves coffee, then you know how committed coffee lovers are to their favorite java. But are those same coffee lovers committed to getting their daily dose of delicious caffeine at your café? In other words, are they loyal to your coffee shop?

Americans drink roughly 450 million cups of coffee every day.

That statistic is true. Americans really do drink about 450 million cups of coffee every single day. These days, coffee lovers can easily grab a cup from just about anywhere, at a café, coffee shop, restaurant, food truck, convenience store, seasonal farmer’s market—the options truly are endless!

How much of the 450-million-cup market patronizes your business, and what are you doing to increase your share of this booming industry?

A customer loyalty rewards program should be at the heart of your answer, whether you recently launched one or are planning to do so in the near future. Offering your current customers discounts and savings in exchange for their patronage is the most effective way to encourage customers to purchase their cup of joe at your location and not from the guy across the street.

64% of American adults currently consume coffee every day.

Though American coffee drinkers consume lattes, espressos, cappuccinos, Americanos, and other freshly brewed favorites daily, due to COVID-19 they are now obtaining their coffee differently. The pandemic has affected how cafés and coffee shops do business. Social distancing, mask wearing, touchless ordering, and contactless paying have changed how cafés do business…

…which means you need to update your customer loyalty rewards program so that it accommodates the new way in which coffee shops are now expected to operate.

In this article, you will learn the top 4 loyalty program ideas that cafés can implement to keep up with contactless solutions while maintaining customer satisfaction.

Launch A Mobile App Loyalty Program

Building trustworthy, long-term relationships with customers is the primary goal of any loyalty rewards program. Historically, these programs have supplied members with either paper punch cards or plastic scan cards to use during every transaction so that their earned points are tallied. But passing physical cards back-and-forth between cashiers and customers at the POS is no longer kosher. The best contactless solution comes in the form of a mobile app. If you do nothing else to accomplish touchless transactions, make sure you launch a mobile app as part of your loyalty program.

Starbucks loyalty members who use the program’s mobile app are 5.6 times more likely to visit Starbucks every day.

Customer loyalty mobile apps free members up from having to worry about always keeping their loyalty card on their person. But that’s just the beginning. Members won’t have to check a coffee shop’s website to find discounts or redeem points, all of which can be done in-app. Loyalty apps also empower cafés to send personalized offers to members via push notifications.

The Bottom Line: Mobile apps completely eliminate human-to-human contact during the ordering and paying processes, which makes launching a mobile app loyalty program an excellent contactless solution. Plus, customers can explore the app, redeem rewards, and add swag shop items to their Wishlist from anywhere.

Include A Simple Digital Punch Card

Have you and your baristas noticed that there seems to remain a handful of stubborn regulars who consistently decline your loyalty program even though they stop in so frequently that you know their favorite coffee and can predict with accuracy exactly what time they’ll show up? There’s a reason for this. People who automatically reject enrolling in loyalty programs do so because they assume the system is rigged to benefit the business but not them. This is oftentimes due to complex rewards structures that don’t make instant sense when explained at the counter. Including a digital punch card can help you win over customers who have refused to join your loyalty program in the past.

Customers who are engaged by a brand make purchases 90% more often and spend 60% more per transaction than those customers who aren’t engaged.

By including a simple digital punch card as part of your loyalty program, you will succeed at enrolling these reluctant customers into your program. The reason for this is because punch card rewards are straightforward. Customers can easily gauge how long it will take them to “win.” For example, a customer can understand that a “buy ten, get one free” rewards structure will result in receiving the free item approximately once a week. Uncomplicated structures such as “buy x, get y free” and “spend x, get y points” often achieve the best results.

The Bottom Line: Simple punch card structures appeal to customers who would otherwise reject complex loyalty programs, but only when the punch card is digital and easily accessible via a tap within the mobile app for guaranteed contactless use.

Free Branded Swag Upon Enrollment

“Branded swag” refers to products, goods, and merchandise that has your café’s name and logo on it, such as a tee-shirt with your coffee shop’s name printed on the front, a tote bag with your business’ logo embroidered on the side, or even a small potted plant with your company’s name and logo painted on the ceramic pot itself. Many customer loyalty rewards programs include a swag shop with exclusive swag items that members can redeem for their earned points. Offering branded swag via a loyalty swag shop is an excellent way to encourage members to earn and burn their points. Branded swag can also be used as a powerful enrollment incentive, which is why we’re including in our top 4 loyalty program ideas.

63% of consumers keep promotional swag items for over a year, with 47% using swag items for 2 years or longer.

As always, there are costs associated with creating any promotional product, and offering free swag to loyalty enrollees is no different. First and foremost, you’re going to need to calculate your potential ROI based on the actual wholesale cost you’ll have to expend on the particular swag item(s) you want to offer. When you consider—and also calculate—the pros and cons of the projected number of new loyalty members you can enroll as a result of the free swag promotion, you will be able to make an informed business decision.

The Bottom Line: Free swag upon program enrollment doesn’t have to break your bank. Keep the enrollment swag inexpensive yet thoughtful, and be sure the swag items are sealed in plastic or otherwise packaged to maintain a standard of contactless-ness and sanitation.

Create A Coffee Subscription Service

Now is an excellent time for cafés, coffee shops, and all businesses that sell coffee to create coffee subscription services. The pandemic has put a massive damper on indoor dining, but we don’t have to tell you that. People who were once eager to spend eight straight hours at your coffee shop, working on their laptops and ordering tasty drinks all day long, have been faced with the reality that they either can’t or shouldn’t maintain this habit during COVID-19. Creating a coffee subscription service with both weekly and monthly delivery options can do wonders for accommodating your die-hards and safeguarding against losing these valuable, loyal customers.

79% of Americans prepare coffee at home.

Ordinarily, launching a coffee subscription service requires some persuading since consumers can’t actually sample an online retailer’s coffee through their computer screens, but you won’t have this problem, because your brick-and-mortar customers have already tasted—and fallen in love with—your assortment of beans. Integrating a coffee subscription service into your customer loyalty rewards program works so well because members can set up an autopay for their subscription and steadily receive points. Those earned points can then be used manually within your swag shop, in store during checkout, or they can be auto-applied back into the subscription to offset the monthly fee.

The Bottom Line: The pandemic hasn’t stopped coffee lovers from purchasing coffee, but it has hindered a portion of them from entering cafés. Meet customer needs by offering a weekly or monthly coffee subscription service with delivery options as part of your customer loyalty rewards program.


Launching the right rewards program will increase customer loyalty at your café. If you’re currently shopping around for a loyalty program, be sure to invest in one that includes the following:

  • Easy “earn and burn” rewards structures
  • Simplistic, straightforward points-earning guidelines
  • User-friendly mobile app
  • Swag shop rewards

When customers have a positive experience at your café, they’ll be inclined to return frequently. Likewise, when loyalty members have a positive experience browsing rewards items and swag shop merchandise from home using the program’s mobile app, their perception of your brand improves and their relationship with your business is strengthened.

52% of American consumers are happy to allow retailers to collect their purchase history data if doing so leads to rewards, discounts, and other offers.

Ready to implement a customer loyalty rewards program at your café? Loyal~n~Save is the best loyalty program for cafés, coffee shops, and any business where coffee is available, including convenience stores and food trucks! Our rewards program comes with a user-friendly mobile app and has simplistic digital punch card capabilities as well as sophisticated teams structures that include gamification options.

Loyal~n~Save also includes:

  • Easy integration with any coffeehouse POS system
  • Fast mobile app download and sign-up protocols
  • In-app personalized recommendations that increase visits and spending
  • Fast customer service technology that builds brand recognition, reputation, and loyalty

To learn more creative ideas to increase loyalty member engagement, visit our Coffee Shop Industry page, or contact us today.

This article was written by Loyal-n-Save, an omni-channel customer loyalty solution for retailers looking to increase customer retention and new customer acquisition.


  • Cafe Loyalty Program Ideas

Posted on Mar 12, 2024


Danielle Dixon

Danielle is a content writer at Loyal-n-Save. She specializes in writing about implementing loyalty solutions proven to help a company grow.