The challenges facing retailers, especially new ones, are plentiful but perhaps one of the more pressing issues that they face is the art of turning seasonal customers into repeat business.
Retailers and shoppers alike pencil in holidays such as Black Friday, Boxing Day and Cyber Monday for a retailing extravaganza. Shoppers look to those dates to grab the best bargain, whereas retailers will look to get as many people into their door as possible. But the problem retailers are faced with is how many of those customers are returning to their store, after those holiday sales are finished?
Seasonal shoppers are cyclical, but that doesn’t necessarily make for great business. Which is why it’s imperative to start turning those customers into loyal followers – customers that will come back regularly to shop – today.
Here are some tips on how best to achieve that.
Introducing a loyalty program to your customers is a great way to get customers into your door more frequently. Building upon high volume traffic days, like Black Friday, is critical for retailers to be able to tap into, and there’s no better way to make sure that happens, than through an integrated loyalty program.
What’s great about loyalty programs is how easy it can be to set-up, especially if that’s integrated into your POS system. Simply issue loyalty cards for your customers upon their first purchase – with an application process that is easy to fil out (preferably with an email address) – and have them start earning points immediately. Encouraging your customers to return to your store by offering them points is an inherent advantage of the program, enticing people to take full advantage of your special offers.
From there it’s about setting parameters to the loyalty program itself, i.e. how your point earning rules and rewards. Create something that is right for your business, and be transparent with your customers about from the onset. Whether you decide to have your points used for discounts on marked prices or on freebies, know that you want to entice the customer to come back and shop again, not push them away.
When we think of new ideas to grow our business, we’re often thinking of large-scale, grandiose ideas that will completely transform the way you do business, and ultimately increase that bottom line. Yet sometimes, it’s best to focus on the little things and providing excellent customer service certainly falls under that umbrella. For example, using a retail management systems such as Hike that can help you serve better, offer discounts and even help you know your best customers.
Creating positive responses with your new customers can go a long way in the retail industry, as first impressions can be the difference in a customer coming back or avoiding the store altogether. As a retailer, it becomes imperative to ensure that your staff (and yourself) is courteous, attentive and generally helpful whenever a customer needs it.
Going beyond just manners however, it’s important to reach out to your customers and provide follow up assistance, especially in those days and weeks following the big holiday shopping days. If you’ve managed to sign customers up to your loyalty program, why not provide another discount or coupon code to entice them back.
In-store & Online Branding
An extension of quality customer service is enhancing your brand, your in-store aesthetics, at every available opportunity. This means propelling your business into a sleek, modern outfit that makes customers want to shop in, and ultimately come back to. This include taking advantage of one of the more recent additions to many stores – the iPad based POS software that’s mobile. Taking the retail service directly to the customers, is decidedly a new, but innovative way to conduct business. It provides a faster service – eliminating those annoying checkout times – which is a useful trick to keep you ahead of your competitors, and a reason for your customers to return.
The other factor to consider when having the modern consumer in mind, is how you present your online store. Seasonal shoppers are regularly seen as such, because they don’t have time during the day. By enhancing your online store, and making it easier for your customers to view all the products you have for sale, you encourage repeat business.
We’ve spoken about building your customer directory, and a great way to follow that through is by email marketing. Consider these emails to be ‘nurturing’ in the sense that you’re gently displaying your brand in the eyes of your customer. This can come through in a variety of ways but is most commonly seen in the form of welcome emails, usually seen some time after a customer’s first purchase.
With welcome emails, you have a blank canvas in which to introduce and promote your business. Foster even an emotional connection with your customers, by explaining to them your story as a business and your vision. It’s a relationship that doesn’t have to begin by you offering them a swarm of new promotions, but rather it’s about just saying hello.
From there you can expand your marketing horizons by offering special promotions, discounts and exciting new releases on a scheduled basis. Consider a marketing application, like MailChimp, to integrate with your POS to make this email marketing process, easy to set-up and use.
The retail industry relies on its connection with its customers, and in-turn customers relies on retailers to provide them with the shopping satisfaction they crave. That satisfaction can stem from many different steps, some of which we’ve listed here, to better the relationship between the parties. Consider developing a customer experience that is second to none – and indeed better than your competitors – to have that shopper return, and give you the repeat business you need to thrive.