They say loyalty is hard to come by, and this seems more true than ever in today’s retail environment. Customer retention and repeat purchasing continues to be a challenge as consumers have more avenues on their path to purchase. However, let it be known that loyalty isn't impossible to achieve. In the current retail system, "loyalty" has taken the place of outdated loyalty programs that overpromise and underdeliver. These ever-more complex reward architectures are designed to reward customers for repeat purchases. However, they often only succeed in segmenting and isolating customers.
So, how does one maintain loyalty in retail? While easier said than done, the key to retaining customers is delivering a consistent experience throughout their purchasing journey. The modern retailer can’t afford to claim that they’re in the dark when it comes to understanding what today’s consumers care about — i.e., an experience that's built for the individual with access of the mass-market. The wealth of research and data available to retailers tells us that customers value a personal touch, which needs to include the following:
- great customer service in-store with the help of intelligent sales associates;
- efficiency when purchasing with little or no wait times at checkout;
- accuracy of product information that's available at their fingertips;
- personalized offers; and
- availability of goods with proper and connected inventory management.
In the past, we saw e-commerce dominate in these areas, pushing customers away from the in-store experience that requires a higher level of touch and decision making. And yet, each of these factors can be brought into a store using solutions and technologies that are available today.
Customer experience is key to retaining their loyalty. Figures from Capgemini’s Digital Transformation Institute show that two in three consumers see long lines at checkout counters as their main frustration, and 48 percent of brands were found to have a significant disconnect between consumers and retailers.
Retailers which have introduced solutions and technology that have addressed these issues have seen an improvement in customer satisfaction levels. By allowing customers to scan products for checkout using their mobile devices, letting associates use tablets/mobile phones to provide better information to consumers, checking stock availability before visiting, same-day delivery of products, and in-store personalized alerts, retailers can deliver increased engagement with customers. That added layer of satisfaction can match the efficiency of e-commerce. By focusing on operations that enable an enhanced shopping experience, retailers can build better connections with customers, creating repeat visits over and over again.
The DNA behind a business that can succeed in today’s environment includes a retailer that's strongly integrating initiatives such as mobile payments and inventory management across all its channels. In addition, it's critical that retailers train their sales associates to use in-store digital technology. This keeps them engaged and better equipped to enhance customers' experiences. Furthermore, it enables associates to provide feedback and help deliver constant improvements to the in-store experience.
Take this blueprint and you can design a successful environment for a retail store. In today’s ecosystem, loyalty comes by showing how much you value the customer. Retailers that strive to improve customer satisfaction will continue to succeed. There's no shortage of solutions to help improve the infrastructure for the right experience for each individual.