Predictions are notoriously difficult. At LoyalTap, we don’t claim to have a crystal ball. We can’t tell you who will win this year’s election, or whether or not this will finally be the year that the Cubs win the World Series. What we can provide, though, is some insight into which way the winds are blowing when it comes to loyalty apps.

Here are a few trends that we’ll be keeping an eye on when it comes to loyalty applications in the coming year. The Cubs might not win this year, but these trends probably will.

1. Bring on the beacons
Some loyalty apps use beacons already, but we’d expect to see the technology become even more commonplace over the next year. The fact is that the technology offers some pretty cool possibilities. Imagine geo-based notifications that notify users of the deals in different sections of the store where they’re browsing, or the ability to track not only the length of customer visits, but also the exact location that customers spend the most time in. At the end of the day, beacons offer the potential to greatly increase the customization and personalization of app interactions.

2. Plenty of push notifications
Push notifications will also become increasingly adopted and customized. Many loyalty apps currently feature them – look for that to become ubiquitous, and also for those notifications to be increasingly personal. Automated push notifications will be sent to customers who haven’t been into the store in a specified amount of time, addressing them by name and offering them a promotional incentive to return. And it will be considered ordinary.

3. App indexing becomes essential
App indexing is the result of Google’s innovations to put your app in front of users who use Google Search. The idea is that when a user searches something on their phone, if an app has a relevant result, it will be shown. Clicking the result then takes users to the relevant information inside of the app. For loyalty apps, the ramifications could be extremely valuable and help to drive increased engagement.

4. More mobile payments
We’ve seen the beginning of mobile retail payments, but expect this to become increasingly smoothed and normalized over the course of the year. Loyalty apps will look to incorporate these mobile payment methods into their offerings, allowing users to earn rewards by paying through their phone. It may be tricky to balance Android and Apple pay systems with distinct value offerings from loyalty apps, but the end result has the potential to offer an incredibly satisfying user transaction experience.

5. Virtual reality gets real
This is a bit more out-there, but don’t be surprised if 2016 is the year that loyalty apps branch into virtual reality. Brands will look to offer experiences that engage customers at levels that set them apart, and as a new medium, virtual reality is able to do just that. With exciting developments from Oculus and Samsung gear, it’s only a matter of time until businesses are creating loyalty in the virtual realm.

So, there you have it: five loyalty app trends to keep an eye on in 2016. Want more loyalty expertise? Get in touch with us. At LoyalTap, we’re excited about what the future holds, and we’re looking forward to continuing the innovation of local loyalty. There are big things in store in 2016 – even if it’s sometimes difficult to predict exactly what they’ll be.