Six Ways to Light Up Loyalty this Holiday Season
You’ve made your Holiday plans and checked them twice so now you can sit back and relax! Well, no, you actually can’t. You have a few more important “To Do’s” to give your best customers a little something extra this year and to win the Holiday retail season. So here are a couple of tips and a whole lot of cheer to help you excel in these next few weeks.
We’re well into Black November and the jury is still out when it comes to holiday shopping with market experts, including Accenture, Deloitte, and NRF, divided on how much more (or less) consumers will spend this year compared to years past. Most do agree that consumers will be looking for value, and one recent research study shows that consumers plan to keep to a pre-established budget and shop closer to December 25th than they have in past years in hopes of snagging better deals.
No matter how the season shapes up, one thing we do know with certainty is that loyalty members will have a big impact on results. And these best customers are ready to be wowed, with many expecting a little something extra from their favorite brands this season. After all, retailers have been making promises and training their best customers on their brands’ promise and the member value proposition all year. Now, they will be expecting to be recognized and rewarded during the most important shopping season of the year.
Deep discounts aren’t the only way to show appreciation.
That doesn’t mean retailers have to over invest in discounts and offers. But it does require continued focus on delivering an exceptional experience to the very best customers and making them feel recognized, important, and valued at all times. Retailers have spent the last few months carefully planning, analyzing, designing, ordering, and hiring for the ever-important Q4 holiday season and now they need to ace the execution. It’s time to give a final push and stay committed to delivering on the loyalty playbook tactics to ensure your best customers shop first, shop often, and stay connected to your stores and brand.
Finish the Holiday season strong and set the stage for a very Happy New Year with these six tips in mind:
1.) Bring out your holiday best. Store traffic is expected to be up 3%-4%, so focus on delivering the best possible experience in your brick-and-mortar locations. Store visits will likely start as an online search as customers scout the best assortments and best deals, so ensure there’s a clear connection between digital channels and what’s happening in stores. Once customers have made the effort to show up in person, have the welcome mat ready as this may be one of your brand’s only chance to interact in-person with your current and future loyalty members.
Well merchandised and organized stores with clear signage, clean fitting rooms, organized point-of-sale areas, and gift boxes and bags ready to go will send a strong message that you value your customers and are glad to have them shopping with you. While much of this seems obvious, it’s easy to overlook these foundational experiences when the stores are busy and full of shoppers. Retailers that stay focused on the details will stand out for the quality experiences they deliver. Our recent store visits indicate that some retailers have all the bases covered, while others need to quickly close some gaps.
2.) Engage and incentivize store associates. Your team members are the face and voice of your brand when a customer walks through the door. You’ll need them fully on board to deliver exceptional in-store experiences. Train staff specifically on customer service techniques and what and how you expect them to deliver.
Educate the team on the importance of and value of your loyalty members, sharing the numbers and data. Emphasize that at this time of year, a store’s best customers spend two times as much as their non-loyalty members so the more members enrolling, visiting, and buying add up to big numbers for their individual store. Remind associates to recognize and thank every loyalty member for being part of the program and for choosing to shop the brand. And ask your front-line team for feedback! Add an agenda item to the weekly Direct Manager / Regional Manager calls specifically focused on loyalty wins and opportunities. Share best practices and lessons learned to make real-time adjustments.
Retailers will need to be creative about motivating team members to deliver the best possible loyalty experiences. This could include bonuses for associates that sign up new loyalty members, team parties for hitting the store’s goals, for doing a great job keeping the store looking great, or to celebrate specific team members who went over and above to meet the needs of loyalty members. Contests create excitement and engagement and can be an incentive for team members, especially seasonal associates, to put in the extra effort.
3.) Place loyalty messaging front and center. Remember to include a loyalty message on all brand marketing touchpoints to keep the program top-of-mind for members. Highlight your appreciation and remind them of the many benefits of membership including the value of earned rewards and how and when those rewards can be used. With tighter shopping budgets, loyalty members will appreciate the price advantages that their rewards create whether they are spending credits or earning them toward future purchases. And this appreciation, recognition, and great rewards go long way in capturing best customer engagement without deep discounts.
4.) Be prepared to capture new members. While it’s important to focus on your VIPs, there is a halo effect to your loyalty marketing efforts and every shopper will benefit from the elevated experiences your team is offering in store. Because many shoppers this season will be buying gifts and may be experiencing your brand for the first time, now’s the perfect opportunity to invite them into the loyalty member program.
Signage and marketing should already be emphasizing the advantages of loyalty program membership and creating some FOMO for customers who aren’t yet eligible for the benefits and rewards. Ask associates to help reinforce this messaging by inviting customers to enroll and explaining the immediate incentives available as well as the future benefits of repeat visits. Since checkout lines are longer this time of year, direct customers to loyalty program QR code signage that offer an easy, expedited enrollment process. Customers will appreciate the frictionless experience!
5.) Share loyalty successes near and far. Managers should be highlighting loyalty with their local teams on a daily and weekly basis, recognizing how the store is winning and any associates who are setting the right example. At the same time, district and regional managers should address loyalty in their weekly regional and national calls. Consider adding a 10-minute agenda item specifically focused on reporting loyalty wins and giving opportunities for leaders to share best practices and lessons learned including tactics for engaging associates in the efforts. Encourage teams to make real-time adjustments in their own stores and share how to quickly implement best practices that their peers are using with success.
6.) Capture both qualitative and quantitative data. With store and website traffic at its highest of the year, the holiday season is rich ground to learn about new, existing, and lapsed loyalty member behavior and to pressure test for loyalty program marketing and performance. Seek data points and insights from all sources including KPIs, customer feedback, and sales associate anecdotes.
Setting up a way to proactively capture, organize, analyze, and action the data will be critical to informing loyalty program adjustments and optimizations that can be implemented in the first part of 2024.
‘Tis the season to stay focused on loyalty.
With so much of the holiday shopping season prep work done well in advance of the last few months and weeks of the year, now is the time to really show up for your loyalty members and deliver on the promises you’ve made all year long. Keeping all stakeholders focused on executing great experiences can help make or break the season as well as improve and expand program engagement and overall brand loyalty for years to come.
Need some help with execution, data capture, or building out your loyalty learning agenda and testing framework to make the most of the numbers you’re capturing this season? Connect with Impact 21 for insights into optimizing your business intelligence for loyalty program development.
- 2023 Accenture Holiday Shopping Survey
- 2023 Deloitte Holiday Shopping Survey
- 2023 NRF Holiday Shopping Survey
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