The swipe card will kill coffee shop loyalty. At least for many.
However more secure and fraud-free a swipe-able card may be for Starbucks or Costa, the simple lack of visual pull for the user who is X away from a free one, will fail to stimulate that consideration in the customer skew to whom a free one makes all difference.
What I’m talking about here is good ol’ fashioned Coffee shop stamp cards.
Subway on the other hand manages this extremely well. Their phone app that on registration replaces the card, gives clear visual indicators to the benefits of their loyalty right there in the app.
This perhaps is one of the few arguable cases for skeumorphic design. A simple card with stamps isn’t just tangible it’s culturally, a well understood agreement.
As a Londoner we have been corrupted by the appalling Oyster card debacle… or is that awakened. Widely accepted as flawed toward the expense of the customer (millions of pounds a year over-charged on PAYG cards), we are becoming sensitive to being blindsided by the invisible service layer hidden in the magnetic strip or NFC tag.
I’ve no doubt the marketing wings of these companies believe they are offering the same great loyalty service scheme whilst at the same time fortifying themselves against card copying and such. But I think they’ve underestimated how that service interfaces with it’s audience and their perception of value in their hand. It’s definitely not like for like.