Local Loyalty & Voucher Schemes

Town centres now have the capacity to bring together all providers of consumer services to offer a loyalty scheme that rewards customers for shopping locally. The rewards vary depending on the level and frequency of spend. Loyalty schemes can encourage repeat visits in many ways, and not just in discounts from shops. Through the use of a bonus points system, loyalty scheme users can be given discounts on car parking, public transport, sporting or cultural events. This can be a useful way of linking town centre shopping with other amenities which allow visitors and residents to benefit from a wider and more convenient experience of the high street.


Local loyalty comes in various incarnations from vouchers through local currencies (such as the Brixton Pound, Love Bedford Reward Card and Cheshire Love Local Life), stamp cards and digital solutions such as mobile apps and smart cards. There is a solution for most budgets with each option delivering differing results. All, if used correctly, feature the ability to collect consumer data which you can then use to communicate with and inform them about local activities and encourage return visits.

All loyalty schemes create an exciting ‘buzz’ upon launch but can be difficult to sustain especially when relying on volunteers and retailers to drive the programme. To help achieve sustainability it is worth considering schemes that create a local income from consumer activity and also provides reports on results. The data collected may include cardholder partial postcode to inform future marketing, transaction value data, and time of purchase. This information is especially useful when combined with traditional key performance indicators that a local partnership might collect. The reports will also show trends to prove the value or otherwise of being involved in the scheme.

Coupons and stamp cards create an instant reward and prove to the retailer that their involvement is working. Using schemes such as these provide a further opportunity to collaborate with other businesses and service providers and create deals that give the impression of high value reward with low actual cost to businesses. Used imaginatively these create multiple opportunities for businesses with one customer and can also encourage a resident or visitor to move around the town more and stay longer during their visit. They are sometimes seen as a reason to support specific businesses and areas over those who do not participate in the scheme

You could also consider holding 'cardholder only' events and promotions which are well supported as the cardholder feels that they are being talked to and invited directly

Digital solutions such as smart cards require the use of additional hardware or use existing credit card EPOS systems. Intelligent use of a system in this way enables rewards to be made over and above existing average transaction value therefore ensuring that discounts are only applied on 'new' money, and also allows time specific promotions such as ‘happy hours’ for times when the town is traditionally quiet.

Mobile phone applications are evolving fast to support high street loyalty. Some offer soft communication with the shopper via ‘push notifications’ combined with electronic vouchers, whilst other platforms are trialling ‘Near Field Communication (NFC)’ between a mobile phone and an in store terminal or tag on a piece of furniture.

High street loyalty is an evolving opportunity. If the budget is not available today to start a digital scheme, why not begin with an entry level paper one to get things moving and collect customer data. This will create the ability to start receiving the benefits of a loyalty programme and allow potential development in the future.

Many local authorities are now considering combining existing cards such as leisure, travel, library and other membership cards into one that delivers local loyalty. Additionally money can be locked into the local economy if salary sacrifices loaded onto smart loyalty cards are offered by local authorities and major employers to their staff. Talk to your local authority and see if such a scheme could work in your area.