You can’t help but love seeing a familiar face walk into your store. As you build your business, your most important customers are the ones who become your biggest fans and keep coming back.
The 80/20 rule is alive and well for retailers: Successful brands can expect to see roughly 80 percent of their sales from just 20 percent of their customer base. Just don’t trick yourself into thinking that low prices are key to building customer loyalty.
Everyone loves a good deal. But the blueprint for building brand loyalty has nothing to do with steep discounts or price matching. Here’s what really determines loyalty in retail.
Customers Want Consistency from Your Brand
Your brand’s shopping experience should be something your customers can depend on, whether they’re perusing your brick-and-mortar store or shopping on their phone. Nothing wins over shoppers like consistency across every channel and device.
Research shows that consistency is one of the most important aspects of customer-centric retail. Brands that prioritize consistency across channels see a 91 percent higher year-over-year increase in customer retention rates than companies that don’t emphasize this approach.
How do you make this happen? Start by ensuring your online store offers a great experience across all devices—the look and feel need to be the same every time. Design and messaging should be consistent with your physical store, and online and offline inventories should be integrated and managed to display accurate pricing and product information.
Engaging In-Store Experiences Can’t Be Bought
Other businesses may carry the same products as you, and they might be able to match you—or even beat you—on price. But you can set your brand apart by offering unique experiences that leverage your brick-and-mortar stores.
These experiences can increase customer engagement and drive foot traffic and sales. T.J. Maxx launched a new retail game that uses pop-up experiences and Instagram to run price-guessing contests targeted to younger shoppers.
The game takes place at product installations in select stores, but shoppers can also participate through social media to guess the total value of products in order to win select products or gift cards.
The results were overwhelmingly positive: a 9 percent increase in same-store sales, credited to the new marketing strategy that increased foot traffic.
Brand Loyalty Has an Emotional Component
A difference in price might tip the scales on a particular purchase, but it doesn’t necessarily alter a customer’s brand preferences. Brand loyalty is an emotional decision that customers make based on how the shopping experience makes them feel.
After all, you can pay $20 or $200 for a great dress. Is one really worth $180 more? Maybe, maybe not. But how you feel about the shopping experience can make all the difference.
The strategy for building brand loyalty is simple: Make your customers happy and they’ll keep coming back. For retailers, this includes taking steps to eliminate friction from the shopping experience, including:
- Friendly and helpful customer service
- A fun, engaging in-store atmosphere
- Easy ordering and returns
- Seamless online and in-store checkout
Meanwhile, make sure that efforts to personalize the buying experience are resonating with customers. Poor personalization can come off as awkward and potentially even damage the customer relationship. It has to be brand consistent, on point, and authentic—or it may be seen by shoppers as a sign that you don’t understand them.
Lastly, don’t forget about music! The music you choose to play in your stores plays a central role in shaping the emotional experience of your customers as well as your brand’s overall aesthetic. And don’t just go with the standard elevator music that puts people to sleep; invest the time in curating music that fits your brand and your customers.
You can even consider turning it into another point of customer engagement: Clothing retailer Iron & Resin releases a new playlist each week on Spotify, and home and gifts retailer Plum Goods links to its in-store playlist online. Music is a huge part of how in-store shoppers experience your brand, and sharing playlists online is a great way to stay connected with customers long after they walk out of the store.
You can offer great products at competitive prices, but shoppers will ignore your store if the experience is disappointing. Position your business as a destination not just for shopping, but for joy, fulfillment, and good memories! It’s what your customers are looking for.