Five ways to make loyal customers

Multi-channel Retail Strategies with iVend retailIf you’re selling a product and you want to maintain customer loyalty one of the most effective ways to increase return business is through a loyalty program for your customers.  It seems as though everyone has a customer loyalty program nowadays.  The scheme may be managed by issuing a key ring, a specific membership card, or simply electronically  through a series of continuous marketing email blasts. Loyalty programs are an important tool for todays retailer; here are five (5) key features of an effective loyalty program.

Importance of an integrated retail system

When you’re operating a customer loyalty program your retail systems need to be integrated. That is, every time a valued customer swipes their identification card you need to know as much about them as your loyalty program allows. You need to know who they are, when and what was their last purchase with you, what their personal shopping preferences are, who they dealt with last , and if there are any red flags that require attention.  Ideally your customer loyalty program should be tightly integrated with your point of sale solution from the store to head office to provide visibility through the company, including at the executive level.

Shopper experience at the POS

Integration is the key and in keeping with this theory your sales assistants at the store need to be able to engage customers through an effective loyalty program. Capturing your customers attention and making a positive impression is key to making a difference to their shopping experience with you.  Simple gestures like referring to your customer by their name, acknowledging their shopping preferences, inviting them to special promotion evenings and a happy birthday greeting on their special day.  All simple measures that only a loyalty program can help you effectively implement. Your loyalty program could capture such specific information including keeping  track of all purchases made to date and even a wish list of products your customer may be  interested in purchasing in the future.

Effective loyalty systems

Your loyalty system needs to offer value to your customer without it being perceived as spam or a vehicle to constantly push your product. An effective loyalty program acknowledges your customer for continued loyalty by giving something in return.  Examples of such value added activities may include; special ‘VIP member’ shopping days, special ongoing discounts, advanced notice on upcoming promotional events, store credit offered on their birthday to redeem on any product in store or any other special perks you can offer your customers.  Its a partnership that creates a win win for both parties that will achieve the end result, continued customer loyalty.

Multi-channel retailing

Todays customer does not just shop in the same way or same fashion every time they purchase from you. So by embracing multi channel retailing you are able to adapt to todays customer and their shopping preferences.  The same can be said about an effective loyalty system in that it has to be flexible enough to capture information on the customer’s preferred shopping experience including keeping track of sales made in store, online or by mail order and providing rewards for purchases made via all channels.

New innovations in retail sector

An effective loyalty program needs to keep up with the latest technology and industry best practices and constantly evolve and respond to such market changes.

One of the biggest pitfalls of some of todays loyalty programs is the overflow of constant information from the retailer to the customer.  Customers are often bombarded with too many emails leading to customers unsubscribing altogether from the loyalty scheme.  Soon enough retailers find that  the loyalty system designed to increase customer loyalty is discouraging repeat business.  The famous saying “less is more” reigns very true with an effective loyalty program, too much communication can be perceived as intrusive and therefore counter productive. As a retailer your customer loyalty program should embrace the above five (5) key points for effective loyalty management and a positive experience for your customer.

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