Loyalty, Rewards and Payments: The Key to Owning a Customer's Spending Habits

By Derek Tanis, SVP of Consumer Partnerships

There are no shortage of loyalty programs for retail consumers to choose from.  One study suggests 90% of retailers focused a component of their 2021 strategy on customer loyalty. However, what retail brands and retail channel partners must solve for is how to make those loyalty programs count by driving incremental spending and delivering true ROI. 

There’s no single path to solving the customer loyalty success equation, but there are a series of steps retailers should follow as they look to build out meaningful loyalty programs. One of those steps is timing of engagement with their customers. Studies indicate that 86% of retailers who deliver benefits to loyalty program members within the first week report that members shop at least once per week.1

The key to establishing loyalty programs that resonate is through dynamic industry partnerships that drive true customer impact. Netspend has spent more than 15 years cultivating relationships across the retail landscape — from big box retailers and convenience shops to grocery stores and beyond — to create card programs that combine the power of payments and rewards into one cohesive loyalty program. Over the past decade, Netspend’s investments in new and innovative payments technology has propelled that effort and allowed Netspend to expand its retail business by 6X.

Several of Netspend’s retail partnerships — such as 7-11, HEB, Albertsons and Meijer, showcase how integrating payments deep into their rewards ecosystem can encourage customer loyalty and greater spend.  Netspend has worked closely with each of these partners to develop a compelling consumer value proposition for their card program built around the retailer’s own loyalty programs.  Consumers are able to leverage the power of the Netspend spending platform and account features while earning even more retailer loyalty points, promotions and incentives for their everyday activities.  Not only does this Retailer get access to valuable insights and data about their customers, but they also have access to communication and touchpoints they wouldn't normally have in-store to drive an even higher level of engagement with their loyalty program and their brand in general.  

As payments get further embedded into the customer shopping experience, creating branded retail ecosystems that combine loyalty, rewards and payments can further influence customer’s spending habits, the frequency of their trips and the size of each basket. With the convergence of loyalty and payments in a comprehensive card program, building customer affinity becomes a natural extension of driving revenues.

Making Rewards Count: How Payments Drive Customer Loyalty

Driving loyalty is about more than just giving customers rewards; true loyalty programs are about making consumer’s lives better and easier. This requires thinking about the entire customer journey, including how consumers engage with these programs and where payments fits into the mix.

Retailers need experiences that truly matter and motivate customers to become repeat customers.   A key component of this is timing.  Netspend’s payments and customer communication platform allows for “in the moment” experiences that can enhance the impact. Part of Netspend’s strategy with current partners are “celebration moments” - these can be based on activity in-store, activity using the card program, or even external factors, events or opportunities the retailer has developed that are timely and relevant to the customer.  With a highly engaging digital platform and multiple communication channels, Netspend offers the opportunity for retailers to reward their customers “in the moment”.

There’s no shortage of data suggesting just how much customer loyalty matters for driving revenue. For instance, industry research indicates that consumers who are part of a high-performing loyalty program are 80% more likely to choose the brand over competitors and twice as likely to recommend the brand to their friends.2 To that same extent, research indicates consumers in paid loyalty programs are 62% more likely to spend more on the brand and 59% more likely to choose the brand over competitors.3

Tying it All Together: Driving Loyalty Through Technology Partnerships

Digital payments have made it easier than ever for retailers to integrate dynamic loyalty programs that combine customer loyalty with an easy-to-use digital payments experience. With more spending online than ever, now is the time to ensure loyalty programs are equipped to support how consumers like to browse and buy. Of course, any successful retail experience is supported by a fast and frictionless checkout. Loyalty programs should be part of that checkout. 

Payments are the key to the consumer loyalty equation that all retailers must master. Loyalty and rewards programs are great, but if they are difficult to earn and redeem, they will fall flat. Integrating payments into these programs through a technology-forward payments partner that understands the intricacies of the retail ecosystem is key to launching programs that stick. 

Thanks to powerful cloud-based technology, like Netspend’s open APIs and consumer engagement and messaging platform, delivering digital-first payment experience across any commerce environment is easier than ever for retailers and retail channel partners. Consumers have more retail choices than ever before, and just as many loyalty programs to consider. Retailers must differentiate their offerings by delivering unique offerings that are built around how a customer interacts with their brand.

The key to owning people’s purchase habits comes down to creating commerce experiences that connect what consumers value most: payments experiences that reward them for being a loyalty member. Finding a partner to bring those capabilities together into one ubiquitous customer experience is the first step toward building loyalty that drives sales. 


About the AuthorDerek Tanis is the Senior Vice President leading Netspend’s Consumer Partnerships team, where he is responsible for a wide variety of strategic partnerships including PayPal, Western Union, ACE, Samsung, 7-Eleven, HEB, The Austin Football Club and Albertsons as well as all of the brick and mortar distribution partnerships across the country.  Derek leads a sales team where they are responsible for selling the company's innovative suite of payment solutions including embedded financecard programs and program management services. Tanis holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a JD from the University of Colorado School of Law in Boulder.


1. Clarus Commerce, “2021 Loyalty Industry Data Study – Insights, Challenges & Plans from Today’s Retailers,” https://www.claruscommerce.com/blog/2021-loyalty-industry-data-study-insights-challenges-plans-for-todays-retailers-data-study/

2.  Tier Logic, “Top 15 Customer Loyalty Statistics,” February 2021, https://www.3tl.com/blog/15-customer-loyalty-statistics

3. Tier Logic, “Top 15 Customer Loyalty Statistics,” February 2021, https://www.3tl.com/blog/15-customer-loyalty-statistics