Modern retail is underscored by aggressively fast disruption and upheaval. One minute the Waltons of Walmart are in the headlines for achieving a higher net worth than Jeff Bezos; the next Amazon.com nails its trillion-dollar valuation. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Between acquisition sprees, private equity investments, legislative concerns and technology curveballs, the current commerce revolution has completely ripped up the old retail rulebook, leaving uncertainty in its wake.
But there is one constant: your customers. Even as behavior and expectations evolve, at their core shoppers desire personally relevant experiences that signify how much brands value their time and business. This is confirmed by a recent consumer survey on brand loyalty my company Yotpo conducted this summer. Based on that data, we’ve formulated some new rules for retail loyalty:
1. Expand your rewards program.
For many brands and retailers, the ruling assumption has been that “everybody loves a great deal” and stopped short there. The survey indicated that for 25 percent of customers “great sales/deals” help earn loyalty, but a clear majority, 55 percent, are attracted by quality products. Many offer loyalty programs that simply dispense coupons, but our survey found that while 75 percent of shoppers do want coupons, 31 percent also like gifts and 29 percent want exclusive products as a reward for their loyalty.
2. Magnify your presence in social media.
It’s not enough to have a stellar e-commerce site and robust email marketing program. Today’s consumers expect to connect with brands in the channel of their choice. According to our survey, when customers are loyal to a brand, 60 percent will tell friends and family about the company. Since consumers use social media to broadcast these types of messages, brands need to rethink their customer experiences and optimize for those channels. The majority of survey respondents, 45 percent, prefer to interact with brands on Facebook; after that it's Instagram at 9 percent and Twitter at 7 percent. Brands should enable and incentivize customers to share their reviews on social media, letting them earn points or other benefits for doing so.
3. Respond in real time.
Wherever they leave feedback, customers expect a quick response. In our survey, 10 percent expect a response almost immediately; 16 percent expect a response within 12 hours; 42 percent expect a response within 24 hours; and 22 percent within 48 hours. Only 10 percent felt it was OK for more than two days to go by before getting a response. Brands and retailers need to make sure their agents in the contact center are trained to respond on social media.
Every approach I’ve shared is a prime opportunity for personalization. With so much more individual data available, coupled with meaningful advances in machine learning, brands and retailers can finally begin to fulfill the promise of engaging on an individual level. Imagine a world where you’re able to effectively segment and tailor rewards by levels of engagement with your brand. And as part of that executing on a loyalty program that actually drives business results. In this new age of loyalty, everyone can be a winner.
Tomer Tagrin is the co-founder and CEO of Yotpo, a commerce marketing cloud with the most advanced solutions for customer reviews, visual marketing, loyalty, and referrals.
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