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How Strategic Retail Partnerships Can Enhance Customer Loyalty

More retailers are spending the time to find creative ways to reach new markets. 

Have you noticed some big box retailers with specialty retailer mini shops inside their locations? 

These strategic partnerships are becoming more common. 

Why? What’s in it for retailers and their customers? What does it mean for the future of loyalty programs? 

Here are the most important things you should know about the future (and present!) of retail partnerships. 

Brand Loyalty Can Impact Purchase Decisions 

Seems obvious, right? Well sure. Retailers know it and that’s why they’re partnering with specialty retailers.  

When you think of quality cosmetics and hair products, consumers might think of Ulta Beauty before they think of Target, right? Target knows that. Target recently announced its strategic partnership with Ulta Beauty for just that reason.  

Ulta Beauty at Target will give Target customers the best cosmetics and hair products right inside Target locations.  

Not only will this give consumers more convenient, local access to Ulta Beauty at their favorite Target location, but Target will likely gain new sales from loyal customers that come to buy something at Ulta Beauty. 

While consumers are shopping at the mini Ulta Beauty shop, they’re more likely to purchase something at Target while you’re there. And why not sign up for the Target Circle loyalty program? 

Some recent examples of strategic loyalty program partnerships include Hilton and Lyft; Dunkin’ Donuts and Shell; Macy’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods; Kohl’s and Amazon; Kroger and Walgreens; and Nike and Apple Music. 

By partnering together in a relevant way, brands can create more value for their loyalty members. And the key is relevancy. This doesn’t make sense if the brands partnering don’t offer goods or services that complement each other and make the customer experience better. 


Is Retail Headed Toward One-stop Shopping? 

Big-box retailers have just gotten bigger over the years. Do you remember before Target and Walmart had full grocery? It seems like every retailer is finding new ways to expand their product lines. 

There are opportunities to expand product selection and quality goods they sell by partnering with retailers with expertise and more products. 

CVS Pharmacy inside Target is a great example of that. 

Having a pharmacy that your customers trust makes them more likely to use pharmacy services. It’s more convenient for them to move their prescription to your location since they may do their regular shopping at Target anyways.  

Macy’s partnering with LensCrafters is another partnership that gives Macy’s customers the quality glasses and services they get from LensCrafters with the convenience of stopping in while they’re shopping at their local Macy’s. 

If you’re at Macy’s you’re likely buying clothes, shoes, or accessories so it makes sense to have the addition of a full-service glasses shop in Macy’s stores also.  

This allows Macy’s to expand their product offering and provide higher quality products while allowing their customers to get all their shopping done in one place. 

Reward Your Loyal Customers for Shopping at Both Retailers 

Have you ever returned an Amazon purchase at the Amazon kiosk inside your local Kohl’s store?  

Not only is it convenient, because you don’t have to print a label or package your item, but you’ll get a coupon to shop at Kohl’s. 

That’s a big win for Kohl’s. 

The Ulta Beauty at Target partnership will allow customers to receive rewards for both Target and Ulta Beauty rewards programs, as well as being able to take advantage of Target’s same-day fulfillment. 

Giving customers more options of how to earn rewards, while being able to take advantage of membership benefits of both programs, afford them flexibility and makes the experience seamless. 

When Target and Ulta Beauty announced their strategic partnership in November 2020, then-Ulta Beauty CEO Mary Dillon talked about the implications for consumers. 

“Ulta Beauty at Target reflects further evolution in our omnichannel strategy, rooted in unlocking the potential of our physical and digital footprints, creating more seamless shopping opportunities for our loyal guests and continuing to lead the beauty industry,” she said. “More than ever before, now is the time for innovation in retail.” 

Strategic Retail Partnerships Are a Win-Win for Everyone 

These strategic partnerships give brands new opportunities to create loyalty. By associating themselves with brands that their customers may already be loyal to, it gives customers something new to love about shopping at their stores. 

Partnering with specialty retailers allows the big box retailers to expand their market reach and product lines.  

And their customers receive the perks of shopping with both brands and benefit from both rewards programs, with the convenience of being able to shop at one store and get the quality product they like at multiple stores. 

Our recent 2021 back-to-school survey found that 67% of parents or guardians shopping for K-12 students most often shopped at Walmart or Amazon for supplies. And 61% are Amazon Prime members. These partnerships provide more opportunities for smaller brands to compete with these retail behemoths. 

You can surely expect to see more retail partnerships pop up in your favorite stores because the strategy works and builds brand loyalty. 

According to our 2021 Premium Loyalty Consumer Data Study, 68% say their loyalty is more difficult for retailers to maintain than ever before.  

More than ever, consumers crave convenience, immediacy, instant gratification, and demand a pleasant experience.   

A strategic retail partnership can help you achieve your goals for your best customers. 


Danielle Perez

Danielle is the Director of Marketing at ebbo. When she’s not heads down finding new ways to get us in front of companies that love loyal customers, she’s enjoying time with her husband, kids, and dogs. Her favorite non-work activities include cooking, coffee, fast cars, hiking, biking, and anything you can do outside.

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ebbo™ is an all-in-one loyalty company. With our data driven strategy, full-service approach, and the unwavering support of the people behind the platform, our dedicated team will work with you to understand your loyalty goals, innovate solutions and help you build customer engagement on repeat.

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