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26 Inexpensive Customer Appreciation Ideas

26 Inexpensive Customer Appreciation Ideas

Showing customer appreciation might not always be top of mind, but building customer loyalty should never go out of style.

Luckily, we have a few inexpensive customer appreciation tricks up our sleeve that can assist you in making your loyal (and soon-to-be loyal) customers feel like the valued patrons they are. After all, happy customers make for even happier cash drawers

Here are 26 budget-friendly customer appreciation day ideas you can leverage to build out your customer appreciation program.

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1. Choose a customer of the day

Who doesn’t like surprises, especially when they save you money? Choose a customer of the day and take this opportunity to drive in-store traffic by announcing the promotion via your social channels. Then, post a picture of the lucky winner to encourage future visits after getting their permission. Since it’s so easy to keep track of sales with your POS system, why not reward the customer of your 50th transaction with a discount? Even if it’s as little as 10% off their next leggings, it’s really the thought that counts. Ultimately, you want your customers to know that they’re just as appreciated during a busy holiday season as they are during the slushy days of March.

2. Give special attention to loyal customers

This next approach requires a little more legwork, but will definitely keep your most loyal customers returning to your store (while keeping your costs down). You’re probably already keeping track of what your customers are buying, so this might seem obvious, but it’s all about what you are doing with this information. Your POS system can help you manage your inventory and monitor sales, but are you taking that data and using it to improve customer loyalty and appreciation? 

If not, we recommend taking a look at what your most loyal customers are purchasing and mark that information in their profile in your POS. The next time these customers are checking out, reference what they most frequently buy and ask them if they’d like to make a purchase at a discount. For example: If your valued customer regularly purchases the same bottles of wine, offer them a discount on a bottle of their favorite. Even if it wasn’t on their shopping list, they might jump at the offer. If they don’t, they’ll definitely still appreciate the gesture.

woman with her dog in front of a retail sales counter talking to retail salesperson standing behind the counter


3. Give special attention to your not-so-loyal customers

There are always going to be customers who stop by your store a few times and then seem to drop off the face of the earth. To get those customers back into your store, try sending customers a “We Miss You” card with a discount code. Make sure your code has an expiration date to help create a sense of urgency.

4. A simple gesture goes a long way

Sometimes, it’s the smallest gestures that make the biggest difference. The most inexpensive way to show customers appreciation is to always practice excellent customer service. Make sure you don’t overlook the little day-to-day gestures. Actions such as greeting customers when they walk in, and walk out (even if empty-handed), create an inviting atmosphere that customers will notice.

Also, don’t forget the art of conversation! You probably became a business owner partially due to your love of people. So don’t forget to take time out of your busy day, slow down and make small talk with your customers. You might be surprised by what you learn about your customers and the expectations they have. This kind of information can be invaluable to your business and will provide you with ideas on how to best manage your store going forward. In retail, it’s the little things that are going to set you apart.

woman behind the counter at a bakery waving her hand to say hello


Bonus Tip:

Use your retail POS system to take notes of customer information that will help you provide them with a personalized experience every time they walk through your door. For example, you can surprise your customers the next time they check out by asking how they enjoyed their last purchase of a certain bottle of wine or if they’ve worn that special blue dress they picked up at your store last month.

5. Offer a birthday reward

Most people appreciate the acknowledgment of their special day. This can come in the form of discounts, swag that helps further brand your business or (based on sales information from your POS) your customers’ favorite products. If you want to get a little creative, you can offer your rewards in the form of experiences. If you’re a wine store, reward loyal customers with a tasting . If you’re a boutique owner, provide your customer with a personalized wardrobe consultation.

The best part about rewarding customers with an experience is that it will get them back into your store. Who knows, they might even spend a little more money thanks to that free sample or consultation you just provided. Remember to add an expiration date to create a sense of urgency. Within one or two months of their birthday is typical. 

6. Write notes of appreciation

To let your customers know that you appreciate all that they do for your business, slip a pre-written thank-you note into their shopping bags. Not only will your customers appreciate the warm gesture, you can use this as an opportunity to include your business’ contact information, social accounts and an invitation for them to visit you again. 

7. Give them a rain check

Traditionally, a rain check is a ticket given for later use when an event is interrupted or postponed due to rain. But it can also be a great way to convince customers—who walked out empty handed because you were out of their desired item—to give your stores a second try. There are a few ways you can go about this. If a customer didn’t find what they were looking for, ask for their email address (if you don’t already have it) and offer to email them when the product is back in your store, or even ship it to them directly.

The important thing is to not let an issue with your inventory prevent you from making a sale. If the customer is not interested in either of these options, this is where a coupon comes in handy. The coupon will provide them with a discount for that specific item or a similar item of their choice. It’s a way of saying “we’re sorry you were disappointed”. The coupon incentivizes them to come back and purchase their favorite item.

8. Share customer photos on social media

Most people use some form of social media. Encourage customers to post about your business or products on their social channels for a chance to be featured on yours. You can regram, retweet and repost your favorite customer posts to show them your appreciation. 

retail customers being shown and tagged on social media feeds


9. Expert tips and advice are priceless

Reward your customers with emails that provide them with expert advice that they can really use. Are you a shoe store? Share tips on how to best take care of your shoes. A clothing store? Give tips on how to remove stains from delicate fabrics. The key is to personalize your tips and tricks so your customers feel engaged and more invested in your store.

10. Text your customers

Nothing says we appreciate you like SMS text notifications. But don’t just say “hi”. Like all of our other suggestions, you need to be able to add value. When combined with some of the customer appreciation ideas we’ve listed, this can be a great tactic for birthdays and anniversaries. 91% of consumers are interested in signing up for texts from stores. Text your customers to congratulate them and let them know you have a little reward waiting for them at the store, in the mail or sitting in their inbox. With Lightspeed Loyalty, you can create customized SMS campaigns to send special offers and product suggestions to your customers. 

11. Create a thank you video

Making a thank you video doesn’t have to be high-tech or scary to make. A simple iPhone or Android video will do the trick. If you have the tech know-how and can edit in your store’s branding, even better. Email your thank you video to new customers after they shop at your business, thanking them for their purchase. It will set you apart from the competition.

12. Share local goods

This tip is good for customers, your wallet and neighboring businesses. Maybe you’re a doggie daycare that doesn’t offer dog grooming, but you know that The Posh Poodle down the street does. Reach out to them and see if they would be interested in sharing a special code or certificate with you. Next time customers pick up their dogs, let them know you are partnering with Posh to bring them the best service possible. Either hand them the code directly or attach it to their next receipt when they pay. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

cartons of eggs


13. Share local wisdom

Similar to tip #9, give your customers the gift of knowledge. But rather than sharing tips and advice that highlight your specific trade, provide your customers with insider advice about the neighborhood. Chances are if you own your own business, you know all the hot spots and who’s who in the area. Using free online tools such as Canva and PicMonkey make it easy for you to create physical flyers or inserts. Just make sure you vet the businesses you recommend and that they are relevant to the demographic you serve.

14. Give out bad weather appreciation rewards

For some businesses more than others, bad weather means bad sales. If your business is likely to take a hit because of a rainy day, show customers that brave the foul weather how much you appreciate their business by providing a reward or incentive for them to visit you during less-than-ideal conditions. 

15. Leave candy at your register

As we mentioned earlier, customer appreciation doesn’t always have to come in the form of discounts and promos. Sometimes, sweetening the day with a piece of candy is all you need to do. Providing individually wrapped candies at your counter can help put a smile . 

16. Create an unboxing moment

Creating an unboxing moment with beautiful packaging will not only delight your customers, but will also build your brand. You can go even further by including a handwritten note or a small (but thoughtful) thank-you gift in the package.

17. Throw an appreciation party

Nothing says thank you like a celebratory appreciation event dedicated to your customers. Invite both new and loyal customers. Throwing a party (whether it be virtual or in-person) for your customers is a great way to show your appreciation to those who have been with you the longest. 

18. Start a loyalty program

Allowing your customers to use a loyalty rewards program allows patrons to earn rewards points by shopping at your store. Customers can then redeem these points for future purchases. A loyalty program that integrates with your POS data will allow you to collect valuable information on your customers. For example, you’ll know exactly what your most loyal customers purchase, how much they spend and how often they return.

19. Reward good reviews

It’s likely that your customers are already talking about you on social media. As a kind gesture, you can Tweet at a customer that gave you a positive review and tell them to stop in for a discounted t-shirt or a free wine tasting. 

If someone is turning to social media to complain about your business, take it as an opportunity to learn from what went wrong in his or her experience. Invite the individual back for the opportunity to make it up to them, and maybe include a bonus offer. You’ll show others that you take feedback seriously and look to keep your customers happy.

man and woman talking while sitting down at a cafe


20. Donate to charity on your customer’s behalf

Make shoppers feel good about spending money in your store by donating a percentage of your sales on their behalf. Ultimately, this tactic makes shoppers feel good about visiting your store and might urge them to spend slightly more at their next checkout. Just make sure to advertise in your store or business that you are planning on donating, as well as how much or what percentage of your sales. 

21. Throw in a free gift

Move excess inventory and delight customers by repurposing unsold items as free gifts. You know that purple puppy shampoo that never sold in your pet shop? Include those bottles of shampoo in the shopping bag of customers who spend over a certain amount. Even if it’s something they might not have purchased themselves, they’ll appreciate the gesture and might discover a new product they actually love!

oatmeal breakfast on a table with sleek black packaging


22. Show them you listen

Have a sizable amount of customers been complaining about the lighting in your dressing room? The packaging of your gifts? Take it as an opportunity to use their feedback to show customers how much you appreciate them and really truly listen. Send your customers an email highlighting the changes you’ve made based on their comments and thank them for helping you improve your business. This will position you as a store owner that truly cares and listens to customers, which is liquid gold when it comes to marketing. 

23. Have a client appreciation day sale

Flash sales are a great way to increase revenue during your slow season, so why not make it a customer appreciation day sale? Invite your entire customer base to a sale in their honor. You can sweeten the pot by incentivizing them with an additional bonus if they bring a friend to the event. Send customers an email thanking them for their loyalty and inviting them to the sale. Make sure the email lists when the sale is, what the discount will be and how much of an additional percentage they will receive when they bring a guest.

woman handing another woman a gift bag from a retail store


24. Start an exclusive mailing list

People love feeling like they’re special or privy to a secret. Start by putting loyal customers on an “exclusive” mailing list that will give them first dibs on special events, discounts and promotions. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you are creating additional discounts or holding additional promotions for loyal customers, it might just mean that your loyal customers are alerted first to when your sales will be.

25. Celebrate your customers’ accomplishments with them

We mentioned earlier the importance of getting to know your customers, and we can’t emphasize its importance enough. If you do this successfully, the customers you build solid relationships with will start sharing their special news with you. Is Sally having a baby? Or maybe Lisa just graduated from college? Take this opportunity to send either an email or note in the mail congratulating them on their special milestone. Include a discount code to show your appreciation and an expiration date to create a sense of urgency. 

26. Use text alerts 

Americans spend an average of 5.4 hours on their phone daily. Get your customers’ attention by sending them a little text reminder that your business is still here and misses them. Texts are a great low-cost way to revive “dead” relationships with customers. Remember, this works best when you give them a reason to return, such as a promo code or an invite to a special event.

A little loyalty can go a long way

Looking to strengthen your customer loyalty? Chat with one of our experts to see how Lightspeed can automate your rewards program and help you keep tabs on valuable customer data. 

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More of this topic: Customer Experience