Is today’s ‘convenience driven consumer’ capable of loyalty?

Retailers are now faced with a new type of customer – fickle, informed and connected – who will turn to a competitor if lured with what they perceive as a better offer. So, what can retailers do to preserve a loyal customer base?

First and foremost, price alone is no longer enough, except for certain highly commoditised items. The consumer of today wants convenience, whichever channel these chose to shop via, along with the guarantee of a competitive price. They expect items to be readily available and to be able to purchase a desired product in-store or online.

Therefore, retailers need to guarantee consistency across their sales channels and regularly engage with customers to better promote new product lines, offers and sales across the retail estate. But what is the most effective way for retailers to reach the new customer and keep engaging with them across channels to build a rapport and ultimately loyalty?

With mobile technology used across sales channels and over 30 million people owning a smartphone in the UK, it’s the easiest, most instantaneous and effective vehicle available on the market for retailers to reach out to customers. Offering convenience of service for the consumer and delivering immediate results for the retailer.

Some retailers are already capitalising on these opportunities, offering mobile vouchers that can be redeemed in-store or/ and are considering mobile payments, but there is so much more that can be done to better connect to the customer on their journey.

Retailers need to bring their loyalty programmes into the mobile era, using NFC or geo-location technology, rewarding customers with vouchers for visiting the physical or online store, using mobile payments or simply for being a loyal customer.

With the lines between online and in-store becoming increasingly blurred, eventually, loyalty cards will be delivered as a mobile wallet as opposed to a physical card – so all points, vouchers, offers etc from multiple channels are stored in the one place. Pizza Express already offers a similar mobile application, allowing customers to receive and redeem vouchers on their mobile in restaurants.

This type of mobile loyalty scheme will deliver a level of convenience across multiple channels that a physical card cannot; providing the flexibility required in today’s ever evolving retail environment for loyalty across the retail estate.

Hotels should capitalise on broadband services

The hotel industry could learn a thing or two from the retail industry, for which broadband technology is now a well-established fixture. The hotel industry is all about customer service and given that customer expectations are greater than ever, broadband services are critical to delivering complementary services and driving sales.

Primarily used to cut the cost of telephone calls, broadband networks in retail are now seen as the backbone for managing the store environment in a more dynamic way. Not only better connecting the retail estate, but delivering value added services.

On the private network, staff across the retail estate are connected in real-time, payments are highly secure and PCI compliant and the management of sales and merchandising data from the stores is used to analyse performance – with multiple stores and head office all connected via the network.

Operationally, broadband can also be used for e-learning, IP video and loyalty schemes.

On the public side, the network can support a host of engaging services, such as, media displays, MPoS, connection to online via a tablet and free WiFi services.

Free WiFi is now also expected in hotels and most importantly customers want good connection when using their laptops or tablets devices – especially when it’s for work purposes. The overall network service needs to be seamless and stress free so customers aren’t left waiting around to make a transaction because of bad connection.

Public networks can be used to deliver promotional content on media screens, better promoting hotel services such as Spa treatments and additional sporting activities.

It’s a win, win situation for both parties, with customers getting the most out of their experience and hotels capitalising on their facilities while delivering a more seamless service.