Customer loyalty is often seen as the Achilles heel of the retail industry, especially as consumers gravitate toward increasingly social and mobile modes of shopping and are confronted with hundreds of brands every day.
Last year, 61 percent of retailers cited customer retention as their greatest obstacle. It's easy to view e-commerce innovations as the enemy when a once-faithful customer base abandons brand loyalty in favor of the cheaper or faster option. But these challenges offer retailers opportunities to take a hard look at existing loyalty programs and business strategies to make updates that better suit the changing behaviors of their target markets. Here are five methods retailers can use to grow customer loyalty in today's digital age:
1. Reward loyal customers and social fans to create brand ambassadors. Nothing is more valuable than a loyal customer, except perhaps one that feels so appreciated that they're willing to be a vocal advocate for your brand. Today, when customers take this role, their power is exponentially more valuable than it was just a few years ago. In recent years, social media has given us the ability to get instant opinions on anything from people we trust. A brand ambassador's ability to touch many people via social networks creates huge opportunities, or risks, should your competition beat you to the punch. If a brand's customer acquisition strategy doesn't include the use of loyalty to reach the friends of its customers and fans, it's time to revisit that strategy.
2. Keep pace with evolving tools and technologies. If brands want their advocates to efficiently share their message, they need to give them the right tools. Successful social marketing relies on a brand's ability to efficiently encourage dialogue between its customers and their close social circles. Comments, likes and shares among these cohesive networks are critical, and brands that don't add the right tools are less likely to succeed.