The rise of online shopping has resulted in bricks and mortar businesses looking for innovative new ways to keep customers coming through their doors, says Josh Harrison, COO of point of sale cloud company, Kounta.
Bricks and mortar businesses will always have the advantage of providing service with a personal, human touch over online stores – a key factor that will ensure that bricks and mortar retailing will continue to thrive.
Having sales, offering discounts, a good range of products, personalised service and creating a great shopping atmosphere is necessary as a bricks and mortar retailer, but how do you ensure that your regular customers don’t just head online and stay there?
The answer is simple; implement a customer loyalty program. But not just a basic “stamp your card” style loyalty program, but one that is unique to your store and brand. A good customer loyalty program is not just one that will keep your regulars coming back day after day, but one that will also lure new customers.
The key to an effective loyalty program lies in offering rewards and incentives that aren’t being matched by your competitors, after all, loyalty works both ways. A business can only expect their customers to be loyal to them if and only if the customer feels that the business has been genuinely loyal towards them.
So, if you want to implement a good, strong loyalty program, here are some factors to think about:
Design a loyalty program that will influence buyer behaviour
Many bricks and mortar retailers have a loyalty program for the sake of it – and therein lies the problem. Ask yourself how the loyalty program will reward you as a business and your customers; is my program going to result in increased sales? Will the loyalty program improve my customers’ in-store experience? Will my loyalty program automatically make my customers brand ambassadors?
Design a loyalty program that ties in with the type of business you run. For example, if you’re a cafe owner, then your loyalty program will be one that rewards regulars with free coffee or food. But, if you’re a hairdresser then you should be aiming at making your customers your brand ambassadors. Have a loyalty program that will reward your existing clients for referring their friends to your salon, and also offer your new clients a discount on their first haircut.
Trust and transparency are particularly important, so a business should strive to ensure that the customer loyalty program that delivers exactly what you promise.
Exploit human nature subtly to get customers on board
Once you’ve established what kind of loyalty program works best for your store, the next step is to figure out how you to get your customers to sign up.
A tried and tested method is to give your customers a kickstart on their rewards just by signing up to the loyalty program. For example, if you have a clothing store, you could choose to give your customers a discount on their purchase or a surprise free gift if they sign up to the loyalty program. If you have a cafe, then you could entice your customers to join the loyalty program, by informing them they’ll receive two of the ten points that they require to receive a free reward. This works far better than merely stating that they need to collect eight points.
A good customer loyalty program takes advantage of human nature by making customers feel that they are closer to their goal than they actually are. People try harder to achieve a goal when they perceive that they are closer to achieving it, this is because artificial progress actually works nearly as well as real progress.
Everyone likes nice surprises, and occasionally offering the customer something valuable that they weren’t expecting (regardless of whether it is actually anything out of the ordinary) will always be perceived positively. If you can tie this to celebrations such as birthdays, anniversaries or holidays, which elicit positive feelings, then you’re onto a winner.
Train your staff to sell the benefits of your loyalty program
Now that you’ve thought of a unique loyalty program that will set you apart from your competitors, the next step is to train your staff in selling it to your customers.
As a manager, take some time out to explain to your staff what the customer program means and aims to achieve. Be sure to thoroughly explain that new team members on board – even if they might just be working for you on a casual basis. Without your entire team’s active involvement, you might miss some of the people you’re most interested in reaching.
Customers are more likely to sign up to the loyalty program if they understand the value of your program and how easy it is for them to get rewarded.
The key is to make sure that every staff member can talk about the loyalty program succinctly, while still getting across the benefits. You can also incentivise your staff by offering them a gift by having a friendly daily, weekly or even monthly contest to see who can enroll the most members. This creates a healthy competitive workplace and motivates your staff to think outside the box.
Get data insights on your customers by using technology
Loyalty programs have come a long way since the stamp card. There are a myriad of apps, social media platforms, customer management systems and even Point of Sale systems that can provide data and analytics, which means as a bricks and mortar retailer, it’s become easier than ever to figure out more information about your customers and their shopping habits.
Use the data gathered by each of these platforms to connect with your customers through targeted email campaigns, SMS or social media. For example, if you’re a bar owner, send out an eDM to a section of your database on a Friday morning with a special promo code which can they can redeem at the bar for specials on drinks.