We’re entering possibly the most disloyal period of the year. Seasonal promotions, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, encourage consumers to seek out the best price – and even usual brand advocates behave out of character.

So how do we nurture customer loyalty during this disloyal sales period? Well, firstly, we need to understand what shoppers want from their retailer relationships. Our recent research surveyed a thousand European consumers to gather their views on critical retail issues – and their opinions around loyalty were very interesting.

It became clear that there is an imbalance in the perceived value of their experiences in-store and online, and bricks-and-mortar is underperforming. Put simply, retailers and brands need to be doing more to integrate loyalty across all channels, particularly when it comes to customisation; a third of those we surveyed believe they get offers based on their previous purchases online, but this same level of personalisation doesn’t happen offline.

Of course, ecommerce makes it easy to track and tailor loyalty offers around customer behaviour – every time a shopper interacts with you, even if they haven’t made a purchase, they leave a data trail. However, that same shopper becomes fairly anonymous when they choose to shop at one of your physical stores.

Our survey also made it clear that traditional attempts to incentivise bricks-and-mortar shoppers no longer resonate. A fifth of respondents admitted that they rarely got round to using paper vouchers before they expired, while a quarter expressed their interest in redeeming points via a different channel: mobile.

When it comes to bridging the online/in-store loyalty gap, mobile is your most important ally. It is the one device ubiquitous to consumers’ daily lives, which they feel comfortable using for both online shopping and within the store environment.

As a result, they are likely to embrace a loyalty app for activities in all channels, meaning they feel as if they’re being rewarded equally and appropriately wherever they shop, whilst allowing you to see their true value to your business.

What’s more, linking mobile loyalty to the point of sale enables your business to capture further customer data surrounding their purchases. This increases your depth of knowledge regarding their offline behaviour, and completes the knowledge ‘blind spot’ that plagues so many brands and retailers. In short, in-store technology enables you to have a truly 360 degree view of customer loyalty.

Finally, having an extensive data-driven view of the customer empowers you to step outside the traditional discounting loyalty model, and start offering rewards for activities other than transactions.

Prices are so competitive at the moment anyway, that cost-effectiveness is no longer a differentiator. Being able to award points based on customers posting about you via social media, however, or leaving an online review for a recent purchase, demonstrates that your customer value goes beyond the size of their wallet.

 

By Richard Kolodynski, Vice President of European Operations at iVend Retail (part of Citixsys).


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