Using technology to create and maintain customer loyalty

By Lee Jones, Director of Sales and Business Development at Ingenico Enterprise Retail

Loyalty programmes have long been a proven success for retailers. By promoting investment which builds to a pay-off for the consumer, these schemes encourage repeat custom as shoppers continue to spend at specific stores to claim rewards down the line. However, new research has shown a shift in consumer behaviour that indicates flaws in the traditional loyalty programme. Customers are losing interest in point-based schemes and discounts, instead looking for a more emotional and personalised experience; one that can reach them directly through their technology.

While discounts and point-based loyalty programmes still have their place, it’s clear that they aren’t as enticing as they use to be. French banking group BNP Paribas found that 52% of consumers have loyalty cards they simply never use. But why are these schemes no longer attracting as many customers? According to Deloitte, 45% of consumers believe establishing an emotional experience with the brand is the most important element in a loyalty program, and the best way to do this is by creating a personal and seamless shopping experience

 Make it personal

Lee Jones
Lee Jones

Improving customer loyalty lies in a personalised experience, and in order to offer that, retailers need to stay in line with the latest consumer trends and demands. The methods by which customers shop have changed dramatically over the last decade and it’s all thanks to the introduction of technology – specifically our smartphones. Smartphones have allowed the average consumer to stay constantly connected to the internet and this means that digital has become an important part of the shopping experience, including in-store. Consumers increasingly use their smartphones to compare and review products – and retailers – in real-time.

In light of this, in order to offer a personalised shopping experience that keeps customers returning time and time again, it is more important than ever to cater to their preferences. Shoppers crave convenience, security and familiarity. Two simple ways retailers can achieve this is by updating their digital offering and creating a customer experience unique to the individual.

Providing an Omni channel payment service which satisfies consumer security and convenience preferences whilst hitting customers across all touch points – such as mobile – is essential. Not only will this provide a wide spread of data from a number of channels which can then be analysed to best target the consumer, but will encourage repeat custom via a seamless and secure checkout.

Making use of this data is also crucial to being able to offer that unique customer experience. Points and discounts are always nice, but if these can be customised for the customers’ specific wants then they suddenly become more enticing. Exclusive, experimental offers are what customers want to receive and with technology this is possible. The combination of consumer spending data and artificial intelligence can pinpoint what customers want on a personal level and then these can be sent directly to them via their mobile phones.

Make it easy

Digitisation is also important in order to make loyalty programs hassle-free. Customers no longer want to carry around hundreds of plastic loyalty cards in their wallets – it takes up space and there is always the chance they will be forgotten and left at home. Updating technology so customers can benefit from the same seamless experience in-store as they do online is key to encouraging customers to shop with you via any and every platform.

According to mobile marketing company Captain Wallet, push notifications via mobile wallets are 10 times more efficient than email and 100 per cent more likely to reach the customer while being cheaper than texts. Then by utilising relocation retailers can send push notifications at ideal and personalised times for the user. If a customer is in or approaching a store and they receive a notification of a deal or sale then they will be more likely to check it out immediately. This increases the chance of spending and interaction with the loyalty program.

However, in order to drive customer engagement, businesses first need to get them signed up. One of the issues merchants have faced with loyalty cards is the pain of enrolment. Customers don’t want to waste time standing at the checkout and filling out a form, and there’s also the issue of queues forming and creating a negative experience for other shoppers.

This is where digitisation can once again shine as plug-ins within mobile wallets allow the sign-up process to be quick and simple. When paying through a terminal with your mobile wallet the option to sign-up appears on the device itself and clicking yes will send a push notification straight to the customer’s phone. This turns the long and arduous sign-up into a two-click process and all the information for the loyalty card is then acquired through the mobile wallet itself. This links the two and streamlines the process for the customer.

 Forge fidelity

Loyalty programs are still enjoyed by shoppers as the desire to receive awards remains high, however traditional programme engagement is low and many don’t redeem the rewards. In order for retailers to fix this issue they need to personalise the program to the specific customers. By taking an Omni channel approach and leveraging smartphones, offers can be sent directly to the customer at ideal times, and by analysing individuals’ shopping habits, businesses can take personalisation to the next level. This approach improves the shopping experience and helps create an emotional bond to the brand, forging fidelity.

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