Connected Retail: Exploring the Interplay Between Digital and Physical Experiences (vol. 2)

February 8, 2024

Excellent customer service isn't just an added bonus—it's become the baseline expectation for both shoppers and retailers alike. As consumers become more discerning and competition intensifies, providing exceptional service has emerged as a critical factor in attracting and retaining customers. Moreover, retailers are increasingly recognizing the value inherent in leveraging data from loyalty programs to not only understand their customers better but also to tailor experiences that foster lasting connections and drive business growth. In this volume, we delve into the integral role of excellent customer service and the increasing significance of loyalty program data in shaping the future of retail. Let’s have a look at the last two key insights of Connected Shoppers Report by Salesforce.

Customer Loyalty Evolution

Outstanding customer service is a defining characteristic of shoppers' preferred brands and serves as a key factor in their choice of retailers. Conversely, poor service can significantly deter shoppers, with 53% indicating it as their worst retail experience, and a concerning 74% stating they would switch brands after just a few negative encounters. Notably, a third of retailers recognize the potential for improvement in customer service. On a positive note, excellent customer service can foster brand loyalty, with 94% of shoppers expressing that it enhances their likelihood of making repeat purchases.

Moreover, convenient incentives such as complimentary shipping, membership in loyalty programs, and hassle-free returns significantly influence shoppers' decisions to purchase from a particular retailer. However, shoppers may soon face a shift in expectations. Surprisingly, 88% of retailers intend to enforce more stringent return policies for the upcoming holiday season. This raises the question: How can retailers foster loyalty when planning to limit a cherished policy among shoppers? According to consumer feedback, factors like diverse product offerings, exclusive access to events, and promotions play pivotal roles in cultivating loyalty, suggesting that despite policy adjustments, retailers can still nurture lasting connections with their customer base.

Loyalty Power

Retailers often regard loyalty program members as their most valuable customers, as they tend to spend more than other shoppers. However, the challenge lies in enticing shoppers to join these programs, especially considering that the average shopper belonged to 3.4 loyalty programs in 2023. Despite this, loyalty programs remain worthwhile for retailers, with 58% of shoppers indicating that such programs make them more inclined to purchase from a specific brand or retailer. Interestingly, there has been a noticeable decrease in the number of loyalty programs shoppers belong to, dropping by 21% since 2021.

Particularly with ongoing inflation affecting budgets, shoppers are drawn to programs that offer tangible financial savings. In 2023, the most prevalent programs include benefits such as accruing points for shopping, accessing special discounts, and enjoying free shipping. However, for retailers aiming to mitigate the trend of loyalty program defections, exploring alternative models may be prudent. Tiered, hybrid, or coalition programs, although appealing to a smaller cohort of shoppers, offer differentiation and could prove effective in retaining loyal customers amidst evolving market conditions.

Loyalty programs serve as more than just tools for customer engagement; they also enable retailers to monetize their data effectively. One particularly lucrative avenue is through retail media networks, which have emerged as a high-margin business opportunity. Currently, 54% of retailers have already invested in these networks, with an additional 40% planning to offer them within the next two years. The appeal lies in retailers' ability to leverage loyalty data and promotions to drive sales. This symbiotic relationship benefits both parties: shoppers receive highly personalized deals and offers, enhancing their shopping experience, while retailers witness increased sales and a larger share of the consumer's wallet.

Conclusion

As highlighted throughout this exploration, exceptional customer service is no longer an optional feature but rather a fundamental expectation that can make or break a brand's reputation and customer loyalty. Furthermore, loyalty programs represent a valuable avenue for retailers to not only attract and retain customers but also to monetize valuable data insights.

In fact, it has been observed that the probability of selling to an existing customer lies within the range of 60% and 70%, underscoring the immense value of nurturing existing relationships and fostering brand loyalty. Shoppers who provide 4 or 5-star reviews increase their total spend by 89%, emphasizing the correlation between positive customer experiences and increased profitability.

By leveraging insights from the Connected Shoppers Report and partnering with Shalion, brands can unlock the full potential of their customer relationships and drive sustainable growth in an ever-changing market. Take proactive steps today to elevate your retail media strategy and maximize your impact in the interconnected world of retail. Contact Shalion now to embark on a transformative journey towards retail excellence.

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