Christmas has come and gone, along with the January sales.

As we look back at the month, we can see it’s a delicate balancing act – on the one hand the sales provide opportunities for customer acquisition and revenue growth, while on the other ensuring that existing loyal customers are not alienated by sweeping offers made to all. For those retail brands looking for a successful 2019, the January sales presented a crucial opportunity to deliver relevant Customer Experiences and communications that help to create momentum and continue to build loyalty for the year ahead.

Make the most of the data

Customer data is critical to cultivating long-term customer relationships, but gathering it is only the first step. Ensuring the insights are being used to create meaningful interactions and customer experiences that are relevant will bring retail brands greater success at the beginning of the year.

Black Friday and the Christmas shopping season are likely to have attracted new pools of customers, so it’s important for retailers to use the data gathered during this time to encourage these new customers back in January and during the rest of the year. This could be through special offers, tailored recommendations based on customer previous purchases, or perhaps an invitation to a special pre-sales event.

Keep communicating

Although competitive pricing and irresistible offers can attract new customers, they can also create a ‘race to the bottom’, in which no business can win. Brands can do more to develop lasting relationships with customers during and after the event to motivate repeat custom. If, for example, prompts are made for customers to identify themselves as part of the brand’s customer base and culture, a more personalised connection beyond the initial transaction can be achieved.

By enabling user-generated content for product feedback for example, such as leaving a detailed review with photographs or videos, they have made quite an effort to interact with the brand. This experience lasts longer in the customer’s memory and the brand becomes more than just another retailer offering big discounts. This independent customer feedback is also more compelling for other consumers. By inviting customer reviews, the retailer demonstrates that it is trying to connect with its customers and truly cares about their feedback. 

Innovatively incentivise loyalty

Retailers should look for other ways of competing for loyalty that aren’t just based on heavily discounting, which often encourages a ‘grab and go’ mentality. Customers can register their details or share their own reviews and content to get an exclusive deal. By identifying how existing customers are already engaging with your brand, you can encourage them to continue to do so by giving them a reward or incentive.

Relationships with loyalty programmes can be leveraged to incentivise purchases where the customer gains something that will see them return, rather than just receiving something at a lower value and not coming back until the next time, when that price is matched. Think double points for members on products they love – bridging the gap between personalisation and reward.

Understand your customer

Ultimately, it’s understanding people – whether they are old or new customers – that lies at the heart of success for the continued growth of a retail brand during the January sales season. Using data to remain aware of what is driving customers to shop and precisely how they enjoy going about it, will help brands start the year as they mean to go on – with a healthy and happy loyal customer base.

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