Sometimes the simplest solutions work the best and the stamp card is the easiest way to establish a form of repeat business. The idea is simple, have a card with spaces for nine or ten transactions, where stamps or a pen signature can be applied. Once the card is complete the customer then receives a free item. The most common use is in cafes and coffee bars, the card rewards a free coffee (or other item) once the card is complete.

The stamp card offers a cost-effective way of getting repeat business. The cost to you is small, the cost price of the free item. Some planning must be done in order for this system to work properly. Firstly, what item will the customer have to buy in order to get the card stamped? Is it a single item, like a coffee, or anything over £10 for the card to be stamped? With this system a single item or related group of items, like a coffee or a hot drink for example, works best. If you over complicate the rules, then it becomes confusing for both staff and customer.

Designing the Card

Keep the card design simple, the best size to use is the same as a business card, these are then easily carried by the customer in their purse or wallet. Make sure that one side of the card has your branding so it’s easily identifiable.

On the other side of the card is where the stamping will happen. As you can see in the photo of my stamp cards, they are basic in design. They might use a coffee cup as the thing to be stamped, or it could just be a simple square or circle space.

Use a business card printing service to get the cards made, this might be your local office printing supplier or an online business stationary printing service like Vistaprint or Moo.com.

The Stamp

There are a few options you have, you can either use a pen (ballpoint or marker for example) to mark each transaction on the card.   The key thing is to remain consistent. The alternative is to use a rubber stamper for marking the cards. These can be acquired from office stationary outlets or online. If branding is important to you then you could get a custom-made rubber stamp made specifically for your stamp card.

What Can I Learn?

The basic data gained from the stamp card is spend from the customer. Beyond that there’s little else but it does act as a good gauge. If you are selling a cup of coffee at £1.50 for example and it costs 50 pence to produce, the you know a completed card is giving you a profit of of £8.50.

One completed stamp card = (9 x £1.50) = £13.50 – (9 x £0.50p) – £0.50* = 8.50

* The cost of the item you are rewarding the customer with also has to be factored in.

Retaining the completed cards for the month will give you an idea of the overall performance of the cards. It’s worth keeping a spreadsheet of the completed cards redeemed to see how they are performing.

Are There Risks?

Forgeries in stamp cards can be a problem. It’s easy for anyone to copy a ballpoint pen signature or initials. The rubber stamps are slightly better but these can be easily bought from the supplier, it’s better to design your own so it’s unique to the brand. McDonald’s uses stickers for their coffee loyalty card.

The café chain Caffé Nero stamp card was the subject of many a website that showed you how to elaborately print the required stamps to complete the card.  Most of these sites are gone now and Caffe Nero moved to a digital solution while keeping the traditional stamp card.

In the next part I’ll talk about taking the humble stamp card digital.