Tips for Creating Lasting, Loyal Retail Customers
Today’s retail customers are inundated with choices. When making a single purchase, they can choose to go to an online-only retailer, boutique shop, specialty store, department store, or factory outlet, and the list of retailers vying for their attention is only growing. But with more choice comes more confusion—in fact, a landmark study from Columbia University showed that when presented with more options, customers actually tended to buy less.
This finding certainly holds true in retail. Faced with a barrage of options, customers are quickly adopting a one-and-done mentality, simply searching online or in-person for the product they need without regard for the stores from which they make their final purchase. Or, for simplicity’s sake, they compartmentalize retailers, pigeonholing them as a go-to store for only a single type of product.
Breaking such perceptions and inspiring customer loyalty can be difficult, but next-gen engagement applications are making it easier. Now, retailers can differentiate themselves from the crowd with real-time personalization, 1:1 engagement, and meaningful interactions—all of which encourage customers to keep coming back for more. Here’s how:
Treat Every Customer as a Segment of One
Customers are more likely to show loyalty to a particular retailer if they feel that the retailer is invested in them, as well. This requires retail enterprises to take notice of customers’ transactions, browsing behavior, and preferences, always leveraging these historic and real-time data points to delight customers in new and increasingly personal ways. In doing so, they can greatly increase customer spending as well as customer loyalty.
Caroline and her family are going on vacation to a ski resort. She searches online for new winter jackets for herself and her kids before their trip, and ends up browsing through coats on an outdoor sports store’s website. Satisfied with their selection and prices, she purchases adult and children’s coats via the site.
When she returns from vacation, Caroline receives an email from the store: “Caroline, spring is just around the corner! Get the kids stocked up for the new season with 15% off children’s clothes.” Pleased at the store’s recognition and accommodation of her specific need, Caroline clicks the link to browse children’s spring line selection, confident that she has found a new place to shop for her family through more than just the winter season.
Get Into the Customer’s Head
Building customer loyalty requires that retailers anticipate customers’ needs not just online, but also in-store. While a customer may visit a location with just one specific product in mind, retailers can leverage location-based technology to broaden shoppers’ perspectives and expose them to all that the store has to offer while they are still in the same shopping session, driving additional sales in-the-moment and rapidly making loyal customers out of intermittent or one-time shoppers.
Bill walks into a men’s clothing store to pick up a few more ties for work. When his smartphone enters within range of the store’s Wi-Fi, the store’s engagement system recognizes Bill as a customer and begins to pull historic data about his previous transactions—all ties.Bill finds the ties that he needs and makes his way toward the checkout counter. As he passes the men’s shirts—and a geofence boundary—his phone buzzes with a push notification: “Bill, complete the look: Men’s business shirts are 20% off, today only.” Ready to take advantage of the deal, Bill grabs a shirt, knowing that he’ll be back for more of his workwear in the future.
It’s All in the Timing
When it comes to leveraging engagement to drive customer loyalty, location and timing are everything. By engaging with potential shoppers when they are not only in the right mindset to make a purchase, but also physically near the store, enterprise retailers can significantly influence customer behavior. Plus, by considering environmental variables like the weather, enterprises can further engage customers personally to gradually build their loyalty.
Angela is running errands in a strip mall near her neighborhood. As she gets in the car with her groceries, sweating from the heat of a 90° day, she prepares to leave the parking lot for another nearby store. Just then, an app on her phone pushes her a notification: “Angela: It’s one of the hottest day of the summer! Cool off with half-price frozen yogurt.”
The push notification is from a local frozen yogurt shop just a few stores down. Angela is relieved at the idea of a break before she continues her shopping, and she heads toward the shop, reminding herself that it will be a great place to cool off as the summer continues.
Though the “one-and-done” mindset may seem insurmountable to retailers struggling to differentiate in today’s crowded market, customer loyalty can still be built strategically via personalized, real-time engagement that deploys in-session intervention and keeps customers coming back for more.
Discover how to power such loyalty-building engagement with the ZineOne Customer Engagement Hub, a tool that leverages continuous, ‘in-the-moment’ intelligence about retail customers to deliver personalized experiences resulting in real customer loyalty.