Retail Q & A: Loyalty Programs - ShopperTrak

Retail Q & A: Loyalty Programs

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In this interview, Kevin Kearns, ShopperTrak’s Chief Revenue Officer, offers his take on the efficacy of modern retail loyalty programs.

    1. What do you see as the top customer loyalty trend emerging this year?
      I think retailers are realizing the importance of diversifying their techniques to drive loyalty. In this increasingly competitive environment, cost-cutting and discounts are not the only path to brand longevity. Retailers are focusing on investigating technologies that help them better understand and connect with consumers in order to drive loyalty.
    1. Today’s retail consumers are mobile, which means loyalty extends from brick-and-mortar interactions to mobile devices and beyond. What should retailers keep in mind as they set up loyalty programs for shoppers who have access to nearly any brand at their fingertips?
      Developing customer loyalty isn’t something that’s accomplished quickly or easily. Rather, a retailer should fully define the goal of a program that’s based on an understanding of their core shoppers before they architect an approach.
      A common misstep is to make reduced prices the core method to generate loyalty. While shopper visits may spike during a promotional period, too many sales will not only devalue a brand but also attract the type of shopper who is strictly loyal to price, not brand.
    1. Building loyalty programs isn’t something that ‘ends,’ and it extends way beyond reward cards. Do most retailers realize the importance of a strong and evolving loyalty program?
      There are several retailers that are clearly excelling at their loyalty programs, especially those that have a strong grasp of their value proposition and its relevance to core consumers. For example, Neiman Marcus’ InCircle program focuses on experience and service, as opposed to discounting, because that is what speaks to their shoppers. Neiman’s strategy goes far beyond a card swipe at the point of purchase, and that is a vital part of any loyalty strategy today. Due to recent evolution in the industry, retailers realize the importance of attracting shoppers; however, many are still working on piecing together their approach to generate and sustain loyalty.
    1. What should be the primary focus of a loyalty program, or does the focus depend mainly on the type of retail industry?
      The ultimate goal of any loyalty program should be to retain customers. As noted in a report by Cognizant, acquiring a new customer can cost up to 5x as much as retaining an existing one. Thus, retention demands a retailer’s attention. The core objectives of such a program — engagement, in-store visits, brand advocacy — differ based upon the vertical, as well as the brand and audience, but the desired goal is the same.
    1. Is there any common misconception that retailers have about loyalty that you hear over and over again?
      Think of loyalty like dating: first impressions are everything. Retailers should work to cultivate loyalty from day one. This means getting the basics right by ensuring a positive in-store experience through championing adequate staffing levels, knowledgeable store associates, and strong product availability.
Read more posts by Kevin Kearns

Kevin Kearns is the Chief Revenue Officer at ShopperTrak, where he oversees the professional services and marketing department, as well as the global sales and sales operations teams. He previously served as the Chief Sales Officer, where he was responsible for leading global sales and customer service operating in over 90 countries.

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