With Brightpearl’s latest study on the US retail market indicating that just over half of retailers (53 percent) have invested in loyalty program software in the last twelve months, and 59 percent have invested in customer service technology, it’s clear that customer retention is a high priority in a fickle purchasing environment.
But how can retailers ensure the retention of their customers when there is often an array of price competitive alternatives on offer? And what can they do to safeguard their existing client base against the allure of a better offer?
Well, it begins with your own staff, and it ends with your competition – read on for some stellar strategies on how to keep your customers happy!
Invest in training, not just software
This was one of the more surprising findings from Brightpearl’s Retail Tech Stack report on software investment in the retail industry: 35 percent of respondents indicated that someone with no direct expertise in software deployments or technology roll-outs, are cited as responsible for the implementation of new technology.
As far as statistics go, this is a little ludicrous. How can you provide your customer with the best buying experience possible if you are unsure on how to best integrate and utilise your own software?
Time is valuable, particularly in a work environment that demands longer hours and constant personal development, however, in this instance it is really a case of short term investment to make long term gains. Prioritise staff education and training now, and it will pay dividends in the future. Your customers will enjoy a seamless experience and your workforce will be well equipped to handle any technical issues.
In excess of half of all US retailers have allocated spend for loyalty software in the past 12 months, but what do these loyalty programs look like? They can be anything from a branded, points based app to an e-voucher campaign that provides discounts for a predetermined amount of spend. We like to be rewarded for our loyalty.
That being said, the retail sector is in the midst of a change, consumers are now acutely aware of the environmental and social impact of their purchasing decisions, and for the most part, want to act more responsibly. Therefore, it is imperative that retailers give them this option, if you provide an environmentally responsible product and an ethical brand that gives back to the community, your customer will feel infinitely better about shopping with you.
Customers appreciate transparency, they want to know the specifics of the brand that they are buying from. In particular, whether or not the materials are ethically sourced, do they use biodegradable packaging, do they have any charitable or sustainability initiatives?
Therefore you need to make your brand and your staff accountable, no matter your product, there are always things you can do to reduce the negative impact that your business is having. Start with simple fixes like in house initiatives to reduce your carbon footprint and outreach programmes to give back to the community.
Go beyond the buy button
Brightpearl found that on average, 77 percent of negative reviews arise from issues that occur after the buy button. Don’t let poor organisation of your back office let you down, because this post-buy process can be beneficial for your company and your client. The fulfilment and delivery process can be an excellent time to send targeted, personalised adverts and updates to your customer when they are at their most engaged with your product.
However, if you don’t have a proper handle on where their order is, then it certainly isn’t the best time to engage with them, investing in the right back office solution will help to eradicate the mistakes that lead to this type of negative feedback.
And finally, keep tabs on the competition, a little obvious perhaps, but there is a world of data at your disposal. Check what your competitors are doing and where the industry as a whole is spending. Identify the areas in which you are lagging behind or could be leading the way, and make use of your budget to keep your core customer happy!