Customer Loyalty in 2018: Why Your Traditional Tactics Need a Fresh Take
Today’s shopper is overwhelmed with choice, making it increasingly challenging for retailers to instill loyalty into their customers. With one-click immediacy making it possible to transport a product from your online shopping cart to your front door in one hour, shoppers have high expectations for the retailers they choose to frequent. The tiniest inconvenience can sour a shopper’s overall perception of a brand, challenging marketers to not just meet, but exceed all customer expectations during their path to purchase.
We broke down the top four pillars along the shopping journey that create repeat customers, including convenience, experience stores, services, and marketing communications, in our 2018 Loyalty Forecast. Each puzzle piece provides critical insights into what shoppers want most from retailers — from the types of marketing emails they prefer to their favorite shipping services — in exchange for their loyalty.
Cover the Convenience Basics
A slight inconvenience could tip the scale when it comes to navigating customer loyalty. Consumers are demanding — as many as 60 percent would stop buying from an online store if the website was difficult to navigate. Ensure you’ve covered all convenience basics if you want to win over repeat customers. This includes making sure your online store works just as smoothly on a mobile device as on a desktop. The report found that more than one in three consumers won’t purchase if an online store doesn’t show product reviews and ratings. Transparency goes a long way with shoppers. Retailers should harness this effective form of social proof to help shoppers make informed purchasing decisions.
However, it’s also important to look further than the basics to offer more cutting-edge convenience. Retailers would be wise to incorporate emerging tech like augmented reality into their digital shopping experiences, especially if it helps shoppers imagine products on them or in their home. One-third of shoppers are more likely to purchase if the website helps them imagine how a product will look in real life.
Don’t Skimp on Services Like Shipping and Returns
It should go without saying that shoppers want quick and easy shipping above all else, especially considering Amazon Prime Day — a shopping day built on expedited shipping — topped $900 billion in sales this year. Shoppers aren’t going to be eager to return to a retailer that couldn’t deliver quickly enough or made them jump through hoops to make a return. According to our Loyalty Forecast, the top services consumers consider when deciding from which retailer to shop are free returns (69 percent), free two-day shipping (68 percent) and free UPS/FedEx/USPS pickup for returns (65 percent).
Revamp Your Marketing Communications
It’s time to take a critical look at current email marketing strategies, considering one in four consumers are more likely to be loyal to a brand that sends them marketing messages that are tailored to them. However, retailers shouldn’t think they’ve mastered personalization if they call their customers by their first name in marketing emails — that’s “mail merge 101.” In fact, more than one in three consumers does not care about this at all. Rather, shoppers want more personalized offerings from retailers, such as accurate product recommendations and personalized post-product email guides.
Offer Experiences to Boost Customer Loyalty
Marketing emails that are tailored and helpful to a consumer, coupled with easy shipping and returns can help earn a customer's repeat business. That said, multichannel retailers looking to boost customer loyalty should also think about how they're engaging a consumer in-store. Despite the prevalence of e-commerce, physical spaces to “try before you buy” are crucial to a satisfactory customer experience. Nearly half (43 percent) of consumers want to try products such as apparel, furniture and technology in-store before they buy online.
Not only does offering an opportunity to trial products help amplify convenience for a shopper, it also opens the door for deepened e-commerce and email marketing personalization. After a shopper has visited in-store, retailers can then use the information gleaned from their visit to better tailor product recommendations and/or emails. For instance, an experience store may have tracked that a consumer tried one specific product much longer than others. It would be wise for the retailer to then use that information to let the shopper know when that specific item is on sale or use it as a point of contact to get them into the store to try out a similar product or new model.
At the end of the day, the goal of all merchant activity, whether email personalization or experiential retail, is to provide shoppers with products and services tailored to their preferences. Doing so will not only catch their attention, but keep them coming back for more. Retail marketers now have access to an abundance of real-time customer insights at their fingertips, so providing an individualized experience that boosts customer loyalty is easier than ever before.
Eddy Swindell is the co-founder and CRO of Fresh Relevance, a personalization platform.
Related story: The Changing Definition of Convenience