The holiday season is rapidly approaching, and with it comes high time for shopping season with consumers of all ages scrambling to the mall and their favorite web-based retailers for deals and guaranteed savings. Many retailers will be doing their best to enhance customer loyalty during this time.
A new report from PwC US, a firm that helps organizations and businesses create value, measured the experiences of more than 6,000 U.S. consumers spanning 11 industries.
The "Experience Radar 2011: Retail Insights" report revealed that the most effective customer loyalty programs are the ones that are created from shopping experiences that foster a strong psychological connection between consumer and retailer, as opposed to the retailer simply trying to sell the consumer extra products and services.
"In today's economy, retailers must identify new ways to set themselves apart, and that begins with a clear focus on customer experience," said Susan McPartlin, PwC's U.S. retail and consumer industry leader. "A single purchase experience can leave a lasting impact on how the consumer identifies with the retailer, so it's imperative that retailers enhance how they serve customers to minimize potential hurdles from beginning to end."
The PwC US report included analysis that any retailer would be wise to employ if they want to build their customer base and increase loyalty while retaining existing customers and bringing in new ones. First, the focus should be on the shopper experience with the merchandiser's knowledgeable staff supporting the consumer's decisions in order to prevent buyer's remorse.
Turning customers into brand ambassadors, helping them avoid risk, fixing any problems that arise and embracing the state of the economy are other helpful tips retailers can take advantage of to foster customer loyalty.
"Customers, like all of us, are social beings, seeking connection and community," said Lisa Feigen Dugal, PwC's U.S. retail and consumer practice advisory leader. "When retailers move beyond solely relying on points and develop experiences based on what's most important to consumers, you not only drive loyalty, but you create ultimate brand ambassadors who spread the word on their positive experiences."
Retail companies and merchandisers, both in-store and online, aren't the only industries that can benefit from customer loyalty initiatives. According to the Lancaster, Ohio, Eagle Gazette, the fuel industry can garner customer loyalty by providing points and rewards for drivers. Grocery stores and drug stores like CVS and Walgreens also do their part to attract loyal clientele by providing points-based reward systems.