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5 Ways To Give Your Loyalty Program An Omni-Channel Edge

Woman shopping at mobile POS terminal

Stores are moving full speed ahead toward omni-channel retailing, but they must also remember to take their customer loyalty programs along for the ride.

In other words, retailers must integrate their loyalty programs with their omni-channel operations, an article on Retail Info System News’ website reports.

Traditionally, retailers’ loyalty programs concentrated solely on repeat business. Most common with small retailers are the punch card that rewards customer with a free cup of coffee after the fifth punch. But while these single-focused loyalty programs may have encouraged repeat business, they fail to take full advantage of opportunities.

A recently published study, “Omni-channel Loyalty: Cracking the Code,” discussed in the Retail Info System News’ article, reports that 75 percent of U.S. households are enrolled in a frequent buyer program, but only 44 percent of them participate.

That’s why retail loyalty programs must cultivate deeper for long-term customer relationships rather than drive consumer behavior in the short term. Here are five ways retailers can tap into the omni-channel retailing potential in loyalty programs.

  1. Dig into the customer data goldmine: There’s an almost limitless amount of data that can be collected from a loyalty program. Take advantage of that information to understand what customers really want. Don’t make it a one-size-fits-all program in which every member receives the same messages and benefits. Send personalized messages to certain subsets of members.
  2. Reach out with technology: Just as omni-channel retailing is about shopping through multiple mediums, customers too are reachable through multiple channels. Retailers should take advantage of social media and mobile technology to reach out to members.
  3. Touch them with mobile: Wouldn’t it be nice to know that a member is near one of your stores? That would be a great opportunity to email or text them a deal or reminder that they have “points to burn.” Or, if you knew that a member was heading home from work, it would make for a great opportunity to send meal-related offers.
  4. Give extra rewards to loyal customers: Combine external data from social media with the internal data you’re gathering directly from the loyalty program. Use this information to pinpoint trends and personal recommendations to members.
  5. Get creative with omni-channel mediums: Retailers can use a retail POS system to track customer data, but it’s much better to collect that information through a loyalty program. Also consider using other programs and processes to collect additional customer information, such as a promotion that requires customers to visit a website and answer questions about their shopping habits. A smartphone app that tracks which aisles customers are in and how long they spend there is another good way to collect data.

To stay competitive in an ever-changing retail landscape, retailers need to enhance their omni-channel operations by transforming their loyalty programs to cultivate deeper, longer-lasting customer relationships.

Source: Retail Info System News, September 2013