In an industry where brand engagement can be fleeting and consumer behavior unpredictable, loyalty programs have become an increasingly important strategy to help organizations keep their finger on the pulse of customers’ buying trends. When done well, loyalty programs enable retailers to continually fine-tune offerings and help drive customer satisfaction, connection and brand trust.
In fact, 75% of consumers said they would favor brands with a loyalty program that rewarded members. Add to that the 43% of shoppers who spend more money with brands they feel loyal to, and there is enormous potential in loyalty programs.
In 2021, customers are hanging out in different places (at home) and heavily engaging with retailers via mobile devices. They expect their favorite brands to offer seamless and convenient experiences across multiple channels, from mobile apps to ecommerce platforms to brick-and-mortar interactions – so that when they do venture out, their experience is predictable and easy.
Delivering on basic consumer expectations isn’t enough to make customers stick around, however. With 75% of American consumers having altered their brand preferences during the COVID-19 pandemic, brand loyalty is on shakier ground than ever before. Shoppers today have an overwhelming abundance of choice about where to spend their dollars, and retailers must connect with their customers in the most relevant way possible to keep them engaged and loyal.
Putting Customers Front and Center to Ignite Deep Brand Loyalty
What does deep brand loyalty look like in a time of extremely high consumer expectations? It goes far beyond simply driving traffic to a store. Retailers must entice shoppers with a platform that’s interesting enough to steal their attention away from their favorite apps and fully engage them to the point that it triggers a sale. This is easier said than done – especially when many global retailers are dealing with legacy infrastructure that is simply inadequate to meet skyrocketing digital demand. Last Cyber Monday alone, consumers spent 12 million dollars per minute.
A loyalty program capable of capturing consumers’ attention in this deep manner must be intuitive, responsive, and seamless. Contrary to what one might think, this can be accomplished without incessant smartphone alerts or spammy, impersonal email blasts. Instead, the goal should be to make the customer's life actually simpler, safer and more enjoyable all from within the smartphone app, effectively establishing rapport with the brand with no direct human interaction.
Many global retailers have existing loyalty programs built on legacy infrastructure and are finding it increasingly challenging to maintain and evolve these programs to satisfy their customers’ changing expectations and behavior. Beyond their importance for facilitating customer engagement, they are also an invaluable source of data to help companies better understand their customers. When designed intentionally and in close collaboration with in-house engineers to leverage their deep customer knowledge, loyalty programs can enable retailers to adapt a customer-centric approach to digital product development. We have tested and proven this approach through our work developing some of the largest loyalty programs for U.S.-based global retailers. [See our case study]
Evolving Alongside Customers with Loyalty Solutions
Placing the customer at the center and developing digital experiences that keep brands relevant as consumer preferences change requires transitioning from accruing points to get the data retailers need to drive traffic and personalize the offering – and then building the infrastructure to do this at scale, in real time.
Your loyalty platform must be embedded into your operation to the point that your in-store inventory reflects your customers’ past behavior and predicted future behavior.
At its core, loyalty goes beyond transactions to encompass interactions, connections, and experiences. The question global retailers must answer is, how do we collect and analyze this data to improve the effectiveness of our loyalty programs for the long term?
As the technology partner of some of the world’s leading retail companies, S4N regularly works through issues with legacy systems built for brick and mortar operations to help our clients evolve quickly. Our industry experience and proven approach help retailers modernize their systems while laying the foundation for reliable delivery of software solutions into the future.
Learn more about how S4N can help you build complex software products. Our teams act as an extension of your internal force, addressing the challenges that your company faces in its daily business. Get in touch.