When things are going well, malls are busy places. It’s easy to picture the mall culture of the 80’s and 90’s, when, instead of merely being a collection of stores, malls were the places to be – bustling, vibrant, and alive. These days, a bit of the glamour is gone. An analysis by CoStar Group found that almost 20 percent of American malls have vacancies of 10 percent or higher. It’s not necessarily that malls are dying, though; it’s more so that times are changing.

Malls remain an integral part of retail culture, and organizations like the International Council of Shopping Centers claim that shopping center income is actually on the rise. The difference today is that the driving force behind malls’ success needs to be a focus on experience – a value proposition that draws customers to the physical premises of the mall. That’s where mall loyalty programs come in.

The Problem with Traditional Loyalty Programs

Traditional loyalty programs have encouraged loyalty to a single store. That’s great for single stores, but it leaves shopping centers like malls lacking a cohesive offering. Even if a customer is loyal to a store that’s featured prominently in the mall, their loyalty isn’t really to the mall store – it’s to the store brand, no matter if it’s found online, across the country, or across the street.

Why Mall Loyalty Programs Solve the Problem

A mall loyalty program provides the solution to this problem by branding loyalty towards the mall itself. Customers are encouraged towards repeat purchases at the mall based on its location and its unique offering of stores. The right loyalty program can get every mall business involved, creating a cohesive community offering that will keep locals coming back for more. The trick is in creating the right program. So, how do you do that?

Luckily, we can help. Here are a few guidelines to help you craft the best mall loyalty program possible.

1. Choose a simple loyalty mechanism
No matter how you want to build your program, remember to keep it simple. This general word of advice can be applied to two key components of your program.

Firstly, choose a platform that makes the process as easy as possible. These days, mobile loyalty apps are a great option, as phones increasingly become a common retail touch point and customers increasingly disdain additional paperwork. If potential members need to take five minutes filling out a paper form to join your program, you have a serious problem.

Secondly, make the loyalty mechanism easy to understand. Complex point-based systems can allow you to feature a breadth of customized offers, but if customers have a difficult time understanding how they can get rewards (or even what those rewards will be), you’ll have a difficult time getting consistent engagement. You should be able to explain how your program works in two or three sentences.

2. Get merchants on board
This is the most essential component of a mall loyalty program – active participation from mall merchants. If you’re thinking about introducing a mall loyalty program, you’ve probably realized some of the immediate barriers to getting merchants involved. Just for the sake of clarity, though, let’s review some of them.

Your program needs to work across different types of businesses. From retailers to restaurants and from franchises to small businesses, everybody needs to have access to a common platform that works for them. This platform can’t be difficult to use – it needs to be quick and simple, or merchants will lose interest. Finally, it needs to generate a clear ROI. Businesses that participate in the program must be able to clearly see results, or they’ll quickly become disengaged.

So, how can you overcome all of these issues? The crux of the trick lies in choosing the correct platform and crafting the right program. A loyalty tool like LoyalTap can show merchant engagement and provide quick insights into how to improve participation. Additionally, it’s important to have a clear understanding of who is designated with the responsibility of overseeing the program’s implementation and success. The best loyalty program providers will provide assistance with this, as well.

3. Tell the world
Once a mall loyalty program has been created and merchants have signed on, promotion becomes the next critical element. Mall customers need to know that the mall has a loyalty program.

This can take the form of public signage, email sends, social updates, or even mall kiosk promotion – check out some more detailed suggestions on how to promote a loyalty program here. The fact is that the more you promote your loyalty program, the more successful it will be.

4. Monitor the results
Now that your program is up and running, it’s important to keep a watchful eye on it. Again, if you’ve chosen a loyalty tool that provides relevant metrics and statistical analysis, you’ll have an easier time reviewing the program’s success and making appropriate modifications.

At the end of the day, you should be constantly shaping your loyalty program based on the best practices and feeding back the most successful tactics to your community of merchants to help everyone grow together.

When they adhere to these guidelines, mall loyalty programs provide a rich value proposition that can draw customers back to the physical premises of the mall and foster a thriving community of businesses. There are lots of cultural curiosities from the 80’s and 90’s that are better left behind, but the existence of bustling, vibrant malls is not one of them.

Interested in creating your own mall loyalty program? We’d love to help. LoyalTap offers a white-label loyalty app that can be branded to your unique mall location. With LoyalTap, you’ll get your own mobile app that makes loyalty easy for every customer and merchant. Get in touch with us to start creating mall loyalty today.