Author: Bob Stein – President RBS Associates and Liquid Barcodes Advisory Board
Loyalty programs have been part of convenience retailing for a very long time. Most programs have been driven by either product discounts or “cents off gas” purchases. In reality, these tactics are just short-term promotions and are unlikely to ever build or sustain any form of customer loyalty.
We know the true power of well-run programs from brands such as Starbucks, airline companies, and even grocery store retailers. In each of these cases, while discount offers are featured within their loyalty programs, each program includes so much more. In addition to supporting their brand at all times, they utilize the latest technology to make their customer interaction and purchases easier, capturing individual customer data to provide personalized offers and encouraging feedback.
Today, convenience retailers must apply the same expertise and insights to truly retain and grow our most loyal customers. We in Liquid Barcodes call this process “Live Loyalty”. Through the use of our advanced technology, we engage customers with their favorite retailers on their terms, 24/7 and in real time. “Live Loyalty” is achieved through the careful application of three key concepts: Engage, Promote and Reward – and here we explore this process.
Loyalty starts with engagement. How easy is it for your customers to engage with you? Do you have many offers for them? Can they act quickly on them when they want to? Are truly loyal customers who buy frequently treated better than those who buy less often from you? Is it fun for them to use your loyalty app? Can they communicate their feedback, concerns and suggestions to you? Do they feel special when they decide to engage with your brand?
To answer these questions effectively it is imperative to first design your approach to customer engagement, then ensure the technology platform you choose can meet each of their needs when they engage with you. The overall design process should effectively capture every customer transaction, and provide insights for ongoing learning. Engaging with customers includes a process to capture customer feedback and ensure any communication is effectively captured and responded to.
This approach ensures that your programme is interesting, fun and useful for customers, which will ensure they continue to engage with you long-term.
Having excited your customers about engaging with you, then it is critical to create fun and value for them. As well as exciting promotions and offers, the platform allow you a way to promote your brand with interesting, action-orientated campaigns that ensure repeat engagement. If your interaction with customer is exciting, it ensures you are promoting your brand and not only the products being offered.
Gamification is one approach you can use today that drives engagement and also allows product promotions that deliver value for your customers, giving them a reason to keep coming back. It is the engine that supports engagement.
Of course retailers should provide rewards to its loyal customers, but one size does not fit all. Different customers will have different perspectives as to what rewards will excite them to keep them coming back to shop with you. Some would like an immediate discount, others prefer to earn points towards a larger reward, some enjoy fuel discounts or buy-one-get-one free offers etc. There are so many rewards that can be offered – why not let the customer choose what reward they personally prefer?
Allowing customers choose their reward means that the technology underpinning the loyalty program must be sophisticated and smart enough to manage choices while still being easy to use. For most customers this works best on a loyalty app on their phone so they can claim their rewards easily and quickly.
Rewarding customers for their purchases creates brand loyalty to your stores, makes their engagement with you worthwhile, makes them feel valued and special by “their choice” – all through the effective use of the “Live Loyalty” process we’ve described for you here – Engage, Promote and Reward.
It has never been more important for retailers to ensure that they have a comprehensive loyalty program. With so many more stores for customers to choose from, and competition from online purchases with home delivery and people generally driving less, it is imperative that C-store retailers keep and build new loyal customers. The best way to do this is to build a “Live Loyalty Program” that will ensure that you are always able to Engage, Promote and Reward customers on a 24/7 real time basis.
Liquid Barcodes is a leading global loyalty technology company specialized for the convenience store and foodservice industries. Our proprietary cloud-based technology platform allow retailers to create and manage their digital marketing campaigns with a proprietary process we call the “customer connection cycle’ to engage, promote and reward customers activities in real-time across digital and media channels.
How we do it:
We have developed the most advanced loyalty and digital marketing technology platform specifically for convenience store and foodservice retailers globally.
Retailers use our self-service dashboard to create and manage loyalty driven marketing campaigns that increase purchases with their existing customers, as well as effectively target and acquire new customers through partners or paid media channels.
One core component of live loyalty is gamification. We have gamified branding, loyalty and promotions. We believe this approach is essential in order to get customers’ attention and ultimately truly engage them with repeatable actions thereby winning their loyalty.
Check out some of our exciting/proven results here:
Paula Thomas Chief Content Officer, Liquid Barcodes and Independent Loyalty Consultant.
With over twenty-five years marketing experience, I specialise in loyalty marketing consulting, managing consumer loyalty propositions, strategy and operations. In addition to working with Liquid Barcodes, my clients have included Telefonica O2, Three Mobile, Electric Ireland, Allied Irish Bank and The Entertainer, as well as Avios – the global points currency for some of the world’s top airlines. I am also a judge for the Loyalty Magazine Awards.