When it comes to keeping the customer happy, small and medium sized (SME) retailers have an advantage over the big players. They can be agile, which means they can adapt the latest technology quickly and cost-effectively, measuring results and mobilising necessary changes with relative ease and speed. In the world of retail marketing, where customer loyalty is so vital, this is no minor thing.

Regardless of the vast amount of change we are seeing in global retailing today, building a strong and loyal community remains a top priority for all retail businesses. Consumers have never had so much choice – in the brands they shop with, the channels they use, the ways to pay, the fulfilment method they select, and the marketing incentives they redeem.

Being able to test and measure what your customer base is interested in, and tailor loyalty campaigns accordingly, is key to nurturing loyalty in a world of customer choice. However, many SME retailers are under the misapprehension that the loyalty technologies available on the market to support this personalisation are only available to larger businesses.

Taking loyalty mobile

The truth is that the cost of loyalty technologies is coming down, and opening up new digital engagement techniques to growing retailers. For example, digital passbooks on smartphones are enabling SMEs to offer shoppers mobile loyalty cards, gift vouchers and discount coupons.

With mobile-first loyalty schemes, there is an immediacy and convenience that paper-based coupons and pre-loaded cards cannot match. And according to iVend Retail research, a quarter of consumers would like regular incentives sent to their mobile phone or retail app, allowing them to collect and redeem points whether they shop in-store or online.

Smart SME retailers are taking the growing appetite for digital passbooks and integrating them into cloud-based loyalty schemes, which enable store managers and associate to integrate customer data at the point of sale, without the need for a custom-made mobile application. What’s more, with access to rich data insights, loyalty campaigns can be targeted to a particular customer segment, and marketing teams can benchmark performance with ease.

Adding value beyond price

As well as taking loyalty mobile, savvy SME retailers are extending rewards beyond monetary gains. A reward could be as simple as allowing a ‘valued’ customer to skip the queue, or an automatic upgrade to next day delivery for regular online shoppers.

By using data analytics effectively, retailers can match the reward to the customer, based on whether they prefer an in-store event, exclusive discount, customer service benefit, or another form of special treatment.

By working in this way, it is possible for retailers of any size to tailor loyalty programmes around your customers’ individual needs, to create a personal connection.  One example of a retailer leading the way in this area is Marks & Spencer, with its Sparks card.

Sparks is unusual because the scheme doesn’t offer members the chance to save money; rather points that, when amassed, trigger invitations to special events, priority access to online sales, and even donations to charities. Waitrose is also thinking smarter with more sophisticated deals, such as inviting cardholders to choose 10 products to purchase at 20% discount each time they make a purchase.

But while the mechanics of the scheme may vary between retailers, these industry leaders have one thing in common: they make sure their loyalty schemes are relevant. Relevant, targeted loyalty schemes can seal the deal for long-term engagement and retention, and in today’s competitive omnichannel world, you can’t afford to get it wrong for long.

Enhance your customer loyalty scheme with iVend Retail’s omnichannel loyalty solution and digital passbook technology.

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