Every customer who walks through your door is not created equal. Experienced retailers can identify a “just-looking” browser from an “on-a-mission-to-buy” shopper within minutes. And, of course, savvy retail salespeople know how to turn the browsers into buyers. But, who’s the most valuable shopper of all? The returning customer.
It’s estimated that a loyal, repeat customer is worth up to ten times as much as their first purchase in your store. Plus, research shows that customer loyalty can significantly impact the bottom line. Increasing loyalty by just five percent can boost profits anywhere from 25 to 95 percent. (Source)
So, how do you turn shoppers into loyal, long-term customers? Valued products combined with a service experience that’s tailored for your target customers are essential. Then, when you also add in a loyalty program that incents and rewards desired customer behaviors, you can take customer retention to the next level.
Why do loyalty programs work?
Today’s shoppers have more options than ever to find exactly what they want. That means retailers have to work harder to meet consumer expectations in order to keep them coming back for more. Data and technology are transforming the retail buying experience and creating new options for smart retailers to differentiate themselves.
Related: 3 Advantages of Brick and Mortar Checkout Experiences in a Digital World
Having a customer loyalty program is beyond a nice-to-have for most consumers. It’s an expected part of the experience. Seventy-two percent of Americans belong to at least one loyalty program. (Source) And, while not having a loyalty program may not drive customers away, having one definitely increases the chances they’ll be back to shop again. Most consumers say their choice of a retailer is influenced by the store’s rewards program, with younger buyers even more likely to factor it in. Seventy-two percent of Gen Z say a loyalty program helps them choose one brand over another. (Source)
Once customers engage, 83 percent report they’re more likely to make repeat purchases because of a loyalty program. And, the return visits add up. Forty-nine percent of consumers acknowledge they spend more after signing up for a store’s rewards program. (Source)
For retailers, loyalty programs come down to basic math. Successful programs incent customers to spend more and create long-term relationships.
What’s the secret to a successful loyalty program?
Discounts and savings are the foundation of customer rewards programs. But, to stand out in a crowded field and keep up with customer expectations, successful loyalty programs also focus on the following elements.
Keep it simple
Your buyers are busy, and so is your sales team. Nobody has time to figure out complex qualifying rules. Making your program simple and straightforward is essential. While most consumers sign up for a loyalty program to earn the rewards, 81 percent say they continue to participate because it’s easy to understand. (Source)
Your Point of Sale (POS) software is key. Along with tracking the rewards earned with each purchase, the compiled customer data becomes a strategic resource for business planning and targeted marketing efforts.
Mix instant rewards with aspirational goals
We live in an instantaneous world. Successful rewards programs recognize that and make it easy for customers to see short-term results. Integrating your rewards program within your POS enables you to deliver rewards in real-time as soon as customers earn them. In addition, when the rewards information is accessible to the salesperson handling the transaction, they’re able to let the customer know how close they are to their next reward, perhaps incenting them to add to their purchase in order to qualify on the spot.
Along with feeding your customer’s desire for instant gratification, your rewards program should give participants goals they can strive to reach over time. For example, building in tiers within your rewards program not only gives customers status levels to achieve, but it also creates distinct customer segments and the ability to customize both your marketing and your customer experiences.
Deliver true insider access
The best loyalty programs make customers feel like they’re part of an exclusive club. Use your rewards program to make customers feel valued and appreciated. Beyond reward points and discounts, look for opportunities to create special events only for customers participating in your loyalty program. Give them advance access to sale prices or surprise them with a gift for their birthday. When you do, your reward program is about more than discounts. It’s about building and strengthening the relationship with each customer. And strong relationships are what really create loyal customers and increase the return on your loyalty program investment.
POSIM is a point-of-sale and inventory management system designed to help retailers succeed and grow. To learn more about how POSIM can help you create and manage an effective customer rewards program, please contact us for a demo.