7 Loyalty Platforms for Restaurants

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This post is the latest in our “Vertical Challenge” series. It’s our editorial focus for the month of October, including topics like vertical-specific strategies and the pros and cons of zeroing in on local business categories. See the rest of the series here

The restaurant industry is notoriously fickle, with tastes and trends changing every year. Those challenges make the industry well-suited for verticalization in local marketing. Rather than using technology platforms designed for general business purposes, restaurant owners are finding that they have more success with technology platforms created to meet their hyper-specific needs.

One area where restaurants have particularly specific needs is in promoting customer loyalty. Vertical-specific loyalty platforms for restaurants tend to have features and capabilities that more generalized loyalty platforms do not. For example, many loyalty platforms for restaurants are tied to reservation systems, so waiters know customers’ preferences before seating them at their tables.

Although the number of loyalty platforms for restaurants is growing every day, we’ve put together a list of seven important players that anyone who is interested in this space should be following.

1. PosIQ
PosIQ is a vertically integrated technology solution for restaurants. The company’s software associates real guests to transactions made inside a restaurant’s POS system. Restaurants can choose from several guest tracking methods, including loyalty cards, reservation information, receipts, credit cards, and beacons. With those tracking methods in place, restaurants can capture, analyze, and market to their guests based on what they order and when they visit. They can also track the return on investment from marketing campaigns and reward diners with offers based on certain loyalty thresholds and past purchasing behaviors. PosIQ’s pricing starts at $99 per month.

2. Fishbowl
A data, marketing, and analytics provider for the restaurant industry, Fishbowl has a loyalty program with features like real-time promotion validation, verification of loyalty status and award points, and guest messaging. With Fishbowl’s loyalty program, restaurants can combine point-based, spend-based, and “surprise” elements into completely custom programs. Restaurants can learn their customers’ dining, spending, and engagement patterns, and they can use the information to create contextual and personalized offers that drive in-store growth. Programs can also be setup to include automated referral solutions. Restaurants should contact Fishbowl for pricing information.

3. Loyalty3
Designed especially for restaurant chains, Loyalty3’s restaurant rewards program automatically communicates and rewards guests. Rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach, Loyalty3 designs unique loyalty programs for each of its restaurant clients. These programs are integrated with the restaurant chain’s POS system, and they are maximized for reliability and speed. With a Loyalty3 program in place, waiters can view guest names, preferences, and available rewards at the POS. Restaurants can also bring customers back with personalized offers and “paperless” rewards. Restaurant chains can contact Loyalty3 for pricing information.

4. Punchh
Punchh has been working in the restaurant space for years. Quick-service restaurants like DQ and El Pollo Loco use Punchh’s system for customer acquisition and to create seamless marketing experiences. Punchh Loyalty offers flexible program structures and omni-channel integrations that enable customers to earn loyalty points across all ordering channels. Restaurants can also use add-ons, like beacons, games, and surveys, to customize their loyalty programs even further. Restaurants can contact Punchh for specific pricing information.

5. Paytronix
Although Paytronix has been developing loyalty programs for restaurants for years, the company’s acquisition of Open Dining earlier this year solidified its position as an important player in the restaurant loyalty space. The company also entered into an agreement with Zenreach, to help restaurants collect more insights about the customers in their loyalty programs, back in March. Paytronix’s loyalty software gives restaurants the ability to identify high value customers, customize promotions, and track guest behaviors over time. The company’s well known restaurant partners include Panera and Sprinkles Cupcakes. Restaurants can contact Paytronix for pricing information.

6. Toast
Toast designs marketing technology specifically for restaurants. It’s most well known for its vertical-specific POS system. Toast Loyalty is an integrated rewards program with a near seamless onboarding process. Restaurants put an opt-in button for their loyalty program on the checkout screen, and customers enter an email address to sign up. From that point on, the loyalty program is tied to the customer’s credit card. That means customers can accrue points and earn rewards without having to present a loyalty card at the POS. Restaurants can customize their own offers and bonuses. Toast Loyalty is available to restaurants for a flat monthly fee.

7. Upserve
Upserve’s restaurant management software includes tools for marketing and back-end operations. One of the platform’s most important features is its loyalty program, which bills itself as a hassle-free alternative to punch cards and third-party apps. With the Upserve loyalty program, the customer’s credit card serves as the loyalty card. Once the customer’s credit card is connected, they can start earning cash back on the money they spend at the restaurant. Restaurants can use the data generated by the loyalty program to bring back customers. For example, they can reward diners for coming in a certain amount of times or they can send offers designed to bring lapsed guests back. Upserve’s Starter subscription costs $59 per month.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.Rainbow over Montclair

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.