Loyalty Program

Top 5 Restaurant Loyalty Program Examples to Learn From

Sahana Ananth
March 1, 2024
1 mins

Table of Content

Have you ever wondered why some restaurants have customers returning again and again to make every night feel like a busy Saturday? The secret ingredient isn't just in their sauce; it's also in their loyalty programs

Loyalty programs reward customers for their repeat business. They offer points, discounts, or other perks. With these programs, you keep customers coming back. You recognize their loyalty with rewards. This makes them feel special and appreciated. It's a win-win for you both. Your business grows as your customers enjoy their benefits. They return, again and again, because they trust you value them. 

Take Starbucks as an example. It's renowned worldwide not just for its coffee but also for its exemplary customer loyalty approach. Starbucks Rewards, with over 30 million active U.S. members, provides complimentary items, special birthday treats, and mobile ordering ease, exemplifying top-tier customer loyalty.

The 2022 Restaurant Friction Index shows 41% of diners favor restaurants with loyalty rewards. These numbers underline the tangible benefits of loyalty programs for restaurants of all sizes. This guide will explore the top examples of loyalty programs and how they have successfully driven business growth.

What Are E-Loyalty Programs & Is This for You?

E-loyalty programs are digital versions of traditional loyalty schemes. They also reward customers for their repeat business. Unlike paper cards or physical tokens, these programs leverage technology to track purchases and give rewards. Your customers can activate them by mobile number, an OTP, or a customer code. 

You might already use restaurant hardware and software for orders and payments. Integrating an e-loyalty program can be a seamless next step. With e-loyalty programs, everything is at your fingertips. You can easily execute rewards management and appeal more to your customers. They love the convenience of tracking rewards on their smartphones, and you'll love how it simplifies tracking and increases customer retention.  

Wondering whether e-loyalty programs are what your restaurant needs? They might be a perfect fit if you want to:

  • Boost repeat business: Customers love earning rewards. Each visit or purchase brings them closer to a freebie or discount and encourages more frequent visits.
  • Smart rewards programs are designed to be implemented quickly and maintained easily. These programs utilize existing technologies to provide personalized rewards based on consumer preferences. For example, if you frequently purchase coffee, you may receive vouchers for coffee as a reward.
  • Enhance customer experience: Personalized rewards make customers feel valued. Offering them an exclusive deal on their birthday will undoubtedly make them happy.
  • Better offerings: Every transaction provides insights into customers' likes and dislikes. It allows you to customize your services to their preferences better. This data helps tailor your offerings to match their tastes.
  • Streamline operations: Integrated with your restaurant hardware, e-loyalty programs automate tracking and rewards. They save you time and hassle.
  • Increase revenue: Loyal customers spend more. A well-designed loyalty program can significantly lift your average ticket size.

If you aim to grow your customer base and enjoy the tech to support it, e-loyalty programs are your go-to strategy.

Traditional Loyalty vs E-Loyalty Rewards

Loyalty keeps customers coming back; e-loyalty takes this concept online. For example, if you run a small cafe. Your regulars don't just love your coffee; they appreciate the warm welcome and ambiance. 

Now, consider your online ordering system. How do you make sure your website or app feels just as welcoming? Here's a detailed comparison between traditional loyalty and e-loyalty programs.

1. Customer Engagement

Traditional Loyalty Programs often limit engagement to the point of sale. Interaction between the customer and the business occurs mainly during transactions.

In contrast, E-Loyalty Programs foster ongoing interaction via online platforms. They leverage different dine-in terminals like display screens, kiosks other than POS, email, social networks, and smartphone applications to maintain active communication.

2. Convenience and Accessibility 

Classic Loyalty Programs may pose challenges for both customers and companies. Physical loyalty cards are easily misplaced, and monitoring rewards progress can be tedious.

E-loyalty Programs bring a higher level of ease. With just a few taps on a mobile device, customers can oversee their rewards, while businesses can modify account details instantly. 

3. Eco-Friendliness

Traditional Loyalty Programs often involve physical materials. They can be paper cards or plastic tokens, which can contribute to environmental waste.

E-Loyalty Programs are inherently more eco-friendly. They don’t need any physical materials and reduce waste. This factor gains significance among eco-aware consumers who favor businesses committed to sustainability. 

4. Cost-Effectiveness and ROI

Conventional Loyalty Programs might increase expenses over time. It stems from the use of tangible materials and the hands-on administration of the loyalty scheme.

On the other hand, E-Loyalty Programs might demand more upfront investment in digital infrastructure but tend to be more economical as time goes on.

5. Security and Data Protection

Traditional Loyalty Programs have minimal data security concerns, mainly because they collect little to no sensitive information.

E-loyalty programs must emphasize data protection and privacy, given their extensive personal and financial information management. 

Considering these factors, it's evident that e-loyalty programs offer advantages beyond simply digitizing traditional loyalty schemes. They provide a platform for deeper customer engagement, greater convenience, and cost savings.

Restaurant Loyalty Program Case Studies

This section will take you into the secrets behind successful restaurant loyalty programs. Each example sheds light on innovative strategies and practices that have helped them turn casual diners into devoted fans:

1. Starbucks Rewards

Starbucks was established in 1971. The company now operates over 30,000 coffee shops worldwide and reported revenues of $29 billion in 2021.

Recognizing the power of customer loyalty, Starbucks launched its Rewards program. This initiative has grown to include 24.2 million members in the U.S. alone. 40% of the company's sales come from the members of this program.

The Starbucks Rewards system offers 1 Star for every dollar spent anywhere. With just 25 Stars, you can start redeeming rewards. 

The program features two tiers: Green and Golden. Green Status starts from 1 to 199 stars, while Golden Status requires 200+ stars. Benefits span both tiers, including free drink customizations, the convenience of ordering ahead, and mobile payments.

Earning "stars" is straightforward. Use a registered Starbucks gift card or the mobile app at Starbucks locations to earn two stars per dollar spent. You can also earn stars on Starbucks-branded purchases, such as coffee or sandwiches, and through online purchases linked to their Rewards account.

2. Chipotle Rewards

Chipotle Mexican Grill excels due to its dedication to fresh, premium ingredients and eco-friendly agriculture. It has been a household favorite since its inception in 1993.

Chipotle Rewards, having over 24 million members, ranks among the fastest-expanding loyalty programs in the fast-food industry. With every purchase, you inch closer to rewards, accumulating 10 points for every dollar spent, applicable in-store, online, or via the app. Sign up and boom—free guac on your first order. 

Their program doesn't stop at earning points. Extras offer ways to score more points and snag exclusive badges. For those who love challenges, you’ll love their "Race to Rewards Exchange" game. Launched right before the new loyalty program, it allowed players to earn points directly in their Chipotle Rewards account.

3. MyPanera Rewards

Panera Bread started in 1987 and quickly became known for its tasty and healthy meals. Panera stood out with a menu full of bakery goods, soups, salads, and sandwiches by using fresh, clean ingredients and creating a friendly place for customers. This focus on quality and guest satisfaction helped them initiate the MyPanera rewards program.

Since its inception in 2010, MyPanera has attracted nearly 48 million members. The program customizes rewards based on individual member preferences and purchase habits. Participants receive personalized perks, including complimentary treats, tailored ordering options, and first looks at new menu introductions.

One standout feature is the Unlimited Sip Club. Members can indulge in unlimited coffees, teas, and more. Introducing choice-based rewards further elevates the experience and allows members to select their preferred perks.

4. Wendy’s Rewards

Wendy's, a household name for hamburger lovers, started its journey in Columbus, Ohio, in 1969. Now operating from Dublin, Ohio, it boasts a global footprint.

Decades after Thomas's demise, Wendy's launched Wendy’s Rewards™. This loyalty scheme rewards customers for their loyalty. It offers 10 points for every dollar spent. These points then become the currency for delicious rewards.

The Wendy's app offers these points. It features a QR code to scan at purchase to ensure every dollar spent becomes points in your account. Missed scanning at the counter? No problem. Just scan your receipt later through the app to claim your points. It's that flexible.

5. Pizza Hut’s Rewards

Two brothers started Pizza Hut in 1958 in Kansas. In 2017, they launched Hut Rewards. Jeff Fox, the Chief Brand and Concept Officer, highlighted its benefits- mentioning that Hut Rewards offers unlimited points. Customers can even get a free pizza after just one order.

Joining Hut Rewards is simple. New customers need to visit PizzaHut.com and sign up for Hut Rewards. Existing customers can opt into the program through their accounts. Once signed up, you start earning points immediately. Every dollar spent online goes toward free pizza. Other perks include exclusive offers and birthday rewards. 

The program is straightforward. For every dollar spent, you earn two points. You can redeem these points for pizzas. For example, 200 points get you a medium pizza, and 250 points for a large pizza. This system means every $100 spent earns you a free medium pizza. 


Loyalty programs transform how you connect with your customers. They help you turn every meal into a step towards a lasting relationship. E-loyalty programs represent a strategic evolution in how restaurants foster loyalty and encourage repeat business. These digital initiatives offer a direct channel to engage with your customers. 

If you want to integrate an e-loyalty program into your operations, OneHubPOS's e-loyalty & Rewards app can significantly enhance customer satisfaction and retention. Our platform not only simplifies transactions but also personalizes the customer experience. Get in touch to learn more.

Sahana Ananth
Director, GTM - OneHubPOS

Sahana is a seasoned GTM leader with a passion for building startups. She excels in crafting GTM strategies for tech products, driving revenue growth.

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