In this episode, we discuss customer retention strategies that are revolutionizing the loyalty and rewards space. Our guest on the show is Hemant Purswani, Co-founder, and CTO at appstle.com.
On the Show Today, You’ll Learn:
- How does loyalty differ from other customer retention strategies?
- What is the main approach of the loyalty program to retain customers?
- How does the loyalty program integrate with other apps?
- What are some examples of successful businesses using the loyalty program?
- In which types of businesses do reward points and loyalty programs work well?
- What are effective ways to promote a loyalty program?
Between the time of recording this podcast and now, Apostle Loyalty & Rewards has been priced. However, the app has the most comprehensive plans at compelling price points. It also offers a free plan for businesses that are starting out on the loyalty program model.
Links & Resources
About Our Podcast Guest: Hemant Purswani
Hemant is a coder by heart, soul, and mind! He is driven by the need to provide the most robust and long term viable tech solutions to merchants, so that they can focus on what matters the most – growing their business.
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Claus Lauter: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the e commerce coffee break podcast. Today, we want to talk about customer retention strategies, specifically about loyalty programs. Now we have spoken about membership, subscriptions, all of this. These are all parts of retention strategies. Loyalty is a different level, and we want to dive a little bit more into that.
On me, with me on the show today, I have Hemad Pooswani. He has been before on the show and he's a co founder and CTO of Appstill. com. He's a coder by heart. Sold a mind and he is driven by the need to provide the most robust and long term viable tech solutions to merchants so that they can focus on what really matters most growing their business.
So that's what I'll come into the show. Hi, how are you today?
Hemant Purswani: Good. Thanks for having me, Claus.
Claus Lauter: I'm very well. Haven't last time we talk about talked about memberships and subscriptions. This time we want to dive a little bit more in loyalty programs. Now, loyalty, specifically in times like this, where the recession is kicking in and people are a bit more frugal when it comes to where they spent the money.
Loyalty is very important. Tell me a little bit more on your approach when it comes to keeping someone within your business and bringing them back.
Hemant Purswani: One of the reasons we launched loyalty is because we heard from our subscription and membership merchants, like this is something they would want from apps. The reason being it integrates really well with our other two apps. And what I mean by that is ultimately acquisition costs is going, it's going up and up.
What merchants want is a way to retain merchant, retain customers and a way for them a follow up. A merchant should be able to incentivize their customers in one way or the other. And loyalty is just a step in that direction because you are rewarded , for making a purchase. You are rewarded for sharing your purchase on social media, like Facebook, Twitter.
You are rewarded for referring someone else. You are even rewarded. If you exceed certain threshold, just like how airline industry is where you become gold, platinum member, and also we support all that. So the idea is to basically help merchants to retain their customers and do it in a way which works loyalty in itself, standalone works great, but it works even better with subscription and membership because.
If someone has a subscription with you, now those points would be automatically applied to those subscriptions and automatically discount would be given, or when someone buys a subscription, they would be rewarded points automatically. It's super seamless all three apps work together.
Similarly, with membership, ultimately membership is all about perks and you wanna, with loyalty, we show all those perks in the loyalty widget. So it just adds up. That was the reason we started this app and that's the whole emotive of it. Yeah.
Claus Lauter: You already said at absolute. com was the membership app that you have. You can basically reward people by giving them points and it becomes then part of the loyalty program. loyalty can be a little bit of bribing. It can be a bit of motivation. It can be of everything. Obviously there's a sort of a letter in there.
So where you go step by step and give them more, what would be the right approach for a merchant to do the first step to offer a loyalty program?
Hemant Purswani: One of the feature in our loyalty app is v i p tiers, where you can create multiple tiers that hey, if you reach up to a thousand points, you're gonna be just a bronze member. After that, from 1000 to 5000 points, you would be silver member and 000, you would be gold member.
And based on those points you can decide or discounts that you want to offer or the number of points. Maybe if you are a gold member and you would be basically given a different set of bugs. And even when you're a Rewarded points, you will be rewarded a lot more points than let's say a silver member, which is how hotel or airline industry works.
So that is one of the way I'm seeing merchants using it. Other is, which is unique to app. So as of now, I don't know if there is any other app, which has a referral program as robust as ours. We also have a referral in as part of loyalty. What that allows you to do is like, You can refer someone else and you can get points.
And by the way, this feature is provided by most of the app where apps and differentiates itself is that on what action you actually want to reward points. Do you want to reward points just when someone visits the store or do you want to reward points when. Someone may actually makes a purchase or maybe makes a purchase of a specific product.
There are the nuances and do you want to reward? But let's say if someone you refer me and I end up buying the subscription product. Should you be getting points every single time when my subscription is renewed or just one time we allow all that. So there is that granularity that we have provided, which to my knowledge no other.
Program is currently providing. Yeah, and that's super useful for merchants. Yeah.
Claus Lauter: now with a loyalty program obviously you need to create some clarity there on what people get for their loyalty points self management so that you can log in and figure out how many, how does that work? What's the best way to deal with that?
Hemant Purswani: Yeah. So by default our app supports both loyalty widget when someone is logged in, they would see their points on the loyalty widget. They can reading points via loyalty widgets. Plus we also have a dedicated page and it has a URL. Yeah. If you would like, you can. redirect your user to that specific page.
Again, it has everything. It would show you the activity rules that you set up. For example, certain merchants may not want to reward points for social media, which I was alluding earlier. maybe they just want to give points for make a purchase. So you decide your rules, in the merchant portal and those rules then are reflected on the page.
Whatever rewards are Currently available to the customer. They can redeem it. And again, one the feature that we have released, which is rare. I won't say it's not available anywhere, but which is as we call it dynamic redeeming dynamic points, redeeming. Most loyalty programs would allow you to redeem points only when you reach 50 points only when you reach a hundred points, which is great.
And that's how we started, but if you want to use your loyalty program for store credit as well, and the difference between store credit and loyalty is very minor. The only difference is that. Usually merchants give store credit when someone is returning something and you give points as, store credits and those need to be dynamic like you, even if you award someone 27 points, you want them to redeem that you don't want them to wait until they reach 50 points.
And so that's also something. three or four weeks back we released. so that's another, but yeah, all this information is available via widget as well as via page. It's up to merchants, some merchants like preferred page over budget. We support both.
Claus Lauter: I like the example that you just gave that you have a store credit and then you can basically use your points immediately when you check out and you're done. I had an example that I had a few weeks ago with some rewards program where I even didn't know I have so many points and basically the purchase didn't buy anything.
I was a very happy customer at that point. when it comes to reward points, it does not work for every business. Probably. are there specific businesses where reward points, loyalty programs work better than others?
Hemant Purswani: Usually, It's an incentivization technique, and I'm seeing it being used a lot on cosmetics, like merchants who are selling some sort of cosmetics. I'm seeing it a lot over there. But having said that, I'm also seeing, I mean, as surprising as it can be, I've even seen merchants who are in hardware tools, just selling hardware tools, and they are also using loyalty.
an incentivization technique. As the saying goes whatever you incentivize it goes. So the whole idea is that you, one way or the other, you want to incentivize your customer to come back to your store and loyalty is a great way.
One more thing I would want to say that apart from widget and page, the fact that if you also have install app, sell subscription, you would also see all your loyalty points, details, everything on your customer portal page. while you are managing subscription, you would also see that, Hey, I have these many points and you can decide if those should be used to redeem for your next subscription renewal.
Or maybe you don't want to use it for subscription renewal. You want to use it for some one time purchase product. So all that is available too. And yeah, that's the whole benefit of it.
Claus Lauter: With the loyalty program, obviously you need to market that and promote it to your customers. And I know that you have a lot of APIs to other apps. How does that work? What's the best way to get the word out?
Hemant Purswani: Referral is really a great way because what merchants are doing is they just activate the referral program and ask their existing customers to, Hey, if anyone is coming to You would get points. That's actually one of the most popular program we have in loyalty. I'm seeing apart from setting up activity rules for social media.
So that's also something much into what they do is , they set up these activity rules that, Hey, if you would share about our merchant store , on Facebook or Twitter, you would get points. They can activate those rules and ultimately customer get points and as well as merchant store is promoted on these media on this platform.
So these are the way apart from if you're talking about how merchants are promoting their loyalty program There are many ways. One of the ways is email campaigns like they can run a blast email campaign to all their customer address list and say that, Hey, we have released a new loyalty program and all.
These are the ways that I'm seeing merchants utilizing this tool or this set of features.
Claus Lauter: Do you have any kind of example or case study on a successful merchants implementing a loyalty program?
Hemant Purswani: We have quite a few who are using loyalty, but in terms of case study it hasn't got to that point yet, where like subscription membership, you already have case studies. It's been what, two, three months. Once it's basically reaches a point where we feel like, it, there needs to be a case study, we'll create one, but as of now, there are no case studies.
Claus Lauter: there any kind of homework to do for a merchant before they start implementing a loyalty program?
Hemant Purswani: No, actually, in fact, it's one of our easiest onboarding app this is something my personal experience that when you install subscription, it has a lot more technicalities in terms of, Hey, you need to set up your product on subscription. And subscription has its own loyalty component, which, I'll discuss in a bit, but so it's slightly more intensive than loyalty because you install it.
The very first thing you see is like set up activity rules and activity rules are essentially the way your customers would get points. And there you go. And then you have set up activity rules. The second thing you should do is like, okay, once they get points, how will they redeem it? So that's reward rules.
You set those up. It's one of the easier app to. install. And this is my personal experience because apart from, developing and building, I also get into support calls and discuss with merchants, like, Oh, Hey, what are the things they are liking? What are the things they functionalities that we have implemented is based on the feedback.
The fact that our referral that I was mentioning is probably at this point ahead of any other program is because of the feedback that we got, like, Hey, can we have this sort of functionality on that? That sort of functionality. Yeah.
Claus Lauter: how does it implement within your existing framework within your tech stack within your theme? What's the technical implementation?
Hemant Purswani: Let me first go over like how it started. So in subscription we had a small loyalty component that would allow you to incentivize your. Customers to retain subscription. What I mean by that is in subscription as of now, as of today, you can set up something like, Hey, if you stay with us up to third cycle, you would get free shipping.
Or if you stay up to us stay up with us up to third cycle. 10 cycle, you will get a free product. And we were also integrating with some of the other loyalty apps that are out there. And that was great, but more and more, Merchants were like, okay, can we have a point system to where they get points for staying with us.
I'm like that earlier. We were like, we were trying to push that away. We were like, there are already apps out there. that are doing it. We are just going to offer these perks, nothing else. And similarly from membership side, we were also realizing that people were asking more and more about that.
Hey, you are offering membership perks, but I need a a dedicated widget where merchants or customers can go and check out all their perks and You're like, yeah, that's also true. That's how it started in terms of a tech stack for all three apps, is pretty the standard so we use AWS heavily AWS and completely like microservice architecture and, very scalable.
And that's why it has never been an issue, whether that, if you talk about subscription app, which has over 16, 000 merchants, actually 17, 000 merchants or , loyalty app, which is like four to three, three months old app. It just scales really smooth for us, but yeah, that was the reason we. We started and in fact, initially it was, it used to be part of subscription, but gradually we turned it out, turned it into a dedicated app.
Claus Lauter: so we talked about the technical part about the onboarding. Give me an idea about the pricing. How does that work?
Hemant Purswani: the great news for all merchants who are creating this as of now, loyalty is a free app. And the reason being, we want to , like I said, most of the app features that we are building is based on the feedback. We want it to be the best app out there. I personally believe because I'm heavily involved I think as of now, we are the best step out there in terms of features you can't beat it.
And the idea is to and the only way we can like that is because if we keep listening to the feedback of our merchants and that's what we have done. So as of now, if anyone is listening to this all your merchants who are listening to this podcast, I would really, really.
Encourage them to install our app. It's free and it's going to be free for them. Even when we introduce pricing tier, it's going to be whatever features they already have, we would never charge them for that. Sure, if we build any new features and they are part, if they happen to be part of a pricing tier, they will have to pay for it.
But I really encourage and, that's what I have encouraged. I've encouraged all my subscription and membership merchants merchants who are using really popular apps, the apps that you can consider the best in loyalty.
We have created a migration tool that makes it super easy to migrate from any loyalty app and this is a good time to install our app, check it out yourself. It's not going to cause any issues. It's just going to take you two minutes of your life and you would see the feature difference and, and absolute support is well renowned in terms of the reviews and also, yeah, this is a good time to install our app.
Claus Lauter: Definitely sounds like that because for that price, you can't beat it. And if you're a grandfathered in for the future with the
features, then I mean,
Basically a no brainer, absolutely no
Hemant Purswani: we have been always very transparent with our pricing here.
Claus Lauter: before we come to the end of our coffee break today, is there a question that I should have asked you and that I didn't, is there anything that you want to highlight?
Hemant Purswani: Probably what are the new things that we are doing with subscription membership or loyalty? This is something so yesterday I had a discussion with a team of developers and, we are releasing a new feature where some merchants want to take away points. if they see inactivity by a customer.
So let's say if you are a customer, you have thousand points, but you haven't made any purchase in last two years, we would give you flexibility. What should be the next activity though? So at that point, we want to retire. so that's something we are building on loyalty side.
On subscription side as of now, the idea is we feel it's super feature rich, at this point we are more focused on integrating with as many apps as possible. We are doubling down on, bundling apps as well as build box app. So that's something you would see and membership.
As of now, the whole idea is to make it more and more. I guess native to loyalty app. So like I said that we recently introduced this that membership bugs are not going to be available on loyalty. You would see something more along the lines, but yeah, these are the things we are working on. Hopefully loyalty would be just, at par with subscription and membership.
Claus Lauter: Yeah, I like the approach that you put all of these together because it's at the end of the day, it's customer retention and bringing that back to your store. And if you have that coming from one source, then that's a great idea. Cool. Where can people find out more about you guys?
Hemant Purswani: So we have our website appsell. com. That's one way. And over there, we also have a chat widget. One thing we take pride about is that we are 24 seven available. We make it a point that anytime you message us, we would message you back. Please reach out to us by appsell. com. And from there, you can also check out our apps on app still.
And then obviously we have our emails too. Support at appsil. com is one way to reach out to us. And if you happen to have installed our app, then again, over there also, you would see our chat widget. Support is one of our strong pillars and we would continue to keep it like that always.
Claus Lauter: Okay. I would put the links in the show notes as always. Then you just one click away. with having your app right now for free, I would encourage our listeners to try it out. there's no risk there and I think it's a really good solution. That's on the market there right now.
Thanks so much for your time today.
Hemant Purswani: Thanks for having me.
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