As a retailer, the global pandemic has impacted your brand in a lot of ways.
Certainly, retailers have felt its effect in a big way.
Many stores have closed, some offer curbside pickup, while others have reopened.
As consumer confidence has sunk, and along with it brand loyalty, retailers are trying to figure out the best course of action to attract and retain customers.
But even as the consumer shopping experience has been turned upside down, could this mark an opportunity for retailers to rethink loyalty and get it right post-pandemic?
Starting Over With Customer Loyalty
Since the pandemic spread quickly across the nation in March, there has been a massive shift toward e-commerce, which has turned the shopping pyramid on its head.
E-commerce revenue grew an unprecedented 71% in the second quarter of 2020, compared to the previous year.
Instead of brick-and-mortar leading the way, now it’s e-commerce.
Given the meteoric rise in e-commerce and BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store), most retail experts believe these online purchasing trends formed during the pandemic could result in permanent adoption.
For example, groceries, pet supplies, furniture, etc. are all things that people used to shop for in stores. And now many consumers buy their groceries online and have started subscriptions for certain items.
This has really evened the playing field. Brands that could use their physical locations as a competitive advantage are now competing with everyone.
One thing is certain: Convenience is paramount among consumers now and brands need to incorporate this into their comprehensive customer experience.
A brand’s shopping journey should be simplified, accentuated, and engaging.
Now is the time to test various incentives with your loyalty program and make achieving and redeeming rewards easier.
For example, Walmart will soon launch Walmart+, which could rival Amazon’s highly successful Prime premium loyalty program.
Walmart worked diligently to make their stores safer and simplify the online ordering process. Walmart also made pickup contactless curbside easy through its app.
Now, Walmart is rolling out a premium loyalty program called Walmart+ where members can pay a fee for free delivery.
Brand differentiation through customer loyalty has never been more crucial than during the pandemic.
Make your loyalty program easy to navigate.
Upgrade any incentives and rewards in your loyalty program.
Consider giving special recognition/rewards to your longtime program members. This will spark engagement and help retention efforts.
A well-designed loyalty program with instant benefits and tiered membership can set your brand apart from the competition, attract new members, and retain longstanding ones.
Make Engagement Your Path Toward Customer Loyalty
During the pandemic, consumers have exhibited far less brand loyalty in pursuit of ease and convenience.
Given the new challenge of attracting and retaining customers, brands need to focus on digital engagement because that’s where consumers are.
Not only that, but engage consumers in simple, fun, and relevant ways and you will create lasting relationships.
Brands that have focused on digital engagement are ahead of the game now, but those who haven’t are playing catchup.
The problem for brands is online shoppers are less loyal, rendering retention twice as important.
So, design or revamp your loyalty programs around engagement that addresses customer pain points.
When you engage consumers regularly and tie that to your loyalty program, you will be successful.
Brands should focus on offering the right benefits for members since 96% of millennials believe retailers need to find new ways to reward loyal customers.
Premium Loyalty Can Help You Differentiate
If you’re a retailer that wants to offer a highly engaging program at a time when consumer confidence is low and brand allegiance is weakening, you might want to consider premium loyalty.
Consumers pay an annual fee to join a premium loyalty program. But a program member’s engagement and lifetime value pay huge dividends in the long run.
Premium loyalty can be the answer for brands seeking to truly engage with their customers at a time when loyalty is a difficult thing to attain.
This year revenue has taken on added importance for retailers.
And one of the key factors tied to revenue is customer loyalty.
But as consumers shop with unlimited choices, earning their loyalty becomes a bigger challenge.
Acquiring and retaining loyal customers is a loftier task now than ever before.
Premium loyalty helps brands create an incremental revenue stream, spark elevated engagement, build long-term loyalty, and make your best customers exponentially more valuable.
This type of program is different from traditional loyalty because it increases engagement quickly through instant benefits available 24 hours a day.
Besides becoming daily habits for consumers, premium loyalty programs build brand advocacy because members use them so much.
And because these programs are so valuable, they tell their friends about it.
In fact, 89% of consumers would recommend a retailer to family or friends if the retailer’s premium loyalty program offers valuable
According to our 2020 Premium Loyalty Data Study, we found that 70% of consumers already enrolled in a premium program plan to join additional ones in 2020.
For consumers currently in a premium loyalty program, 70% would join one at a preferred retailer if the benefits were deemed “valuable.”
Can Retailers Get a New Lease on Loyalty Life?
While the pandemic has transformed the retail world into something that hasn’t been seen before, now is the time for brands to stake their respective loyalty claims.
Since so many consumers are showing signs of declining loyalty, seeking convenience during a challenging time, brands can take this opportunity to create new and stronger two-way relationships.
Loyalty can be a major differentiator among brands and this pandemic has presented this golden opportunity to attract new customers seeking brands they can truly trust.
Loyalty programs that truly speak to customers and engage them are what brands seek, now more than ever.
Consumer shopping habits have changed dramatically, possibly forever, and retail loyalty programs need to address these pain points and resolve them in an engaging way.
What will your brand do to earn customer loyalty during the pandemic and beyond?