An effective Business to Business (B2B) Loyalty Rewards program is a key part of today’s business growth and customer retention.

It’s a common misconception that a retail rewards program can be used in a B2B environment. So first we need to start with a quick comparison of the differences between B2B & Retail Rewards Programs.

Retail sector reward loyalty programs have been around for a long time, many of which are well known to the general public who collect their points when flying with a particular airline or when purchasing food items at their local grocery store.

Although these retail programs serve a purpose, they were not intended for the B2B sector.

Firstly, in a retail environment, the rewards catalogue is designed to appeal to the general public, many of which will save points for years before earning enough points to redeem for something special. In the B2B sector, users accumulate points more quickly and are often looking at redeeming their points for items which are a little more unusual and upscale.

Secondly, retail programs offer little or no room for customization. Not only do your customers earn points from purchasing from your business, but from a whole gamut of other business establishments. As a result, the loyalty program has less to do with your business and more to do with the customer’s pool of reward points in that particular program. A successful B2B program should have the ability to be customized to your business. When a customer places a purchase order with your order desk, your B2B loyalty program should be in the back of their mind.

In a retail program, monthly statements are generic in nature, without any direct reference to your business, resulting in your company’s inability to communicate directly with your customers. Maybe you want to advertise a new product, or let your customers know about an upcoming promotion. A good B2B loyalty program needs to be a lot more than just having customers collect random points that are simply added to their rewards point pool. Accumulating points to a pool is good for the retail loyalty program but offers little loyalty to you with your customers.

Your B2B Loyalty Rewards Site and Catalogue should provide you with an avenue to advertise and launch new products, be a place where your customers can find out about what is going on in your business, and for you to showcase upcoming promotions. Quite simply, you should have control over content. It should be your program that customers relate to when they are placing their purchase orders.

Even with the shortcomings of a retail based loyalty program on B2B business mentioned above, the biggest negative factor of a retail program is “How do you know if the program is working for you? “. Your customers are collecting points based on their sales from your establishment, but are they redeeming? If your customers are not redeeming , then the program is a failure. If the program is not driving loyalty to your business, then the program is a failure.

Unless you are able to monitor your customers’ actions pertaining to the points that they earn through sales from your business, you are simply guessing at its success.

A successfully implemented B2B Loyalty Program lets you know which of your customers are redeeming, what sales transactions are resulting in points generated and lets you know what your customers are redeeming their points for.

In summary, if you are going to invest in a Loyalty Rewards Program for your business ensure that you invest in the right program, not one that you simply buy points for without knowing if your customers are even using the program.

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