In 2015, the online retail industry was worth £52.25 billion in the UK alone, up 16.2% from 2014.
With the ever-expanding presence of ecommerce, consumers are faced with more possibilities than they can shake a stick at. So the question is, with a wealth of information and a plethora of choice creating a more sophisticated and demanding consumer, is the era of customer loyalty dead?
In essence, the answer is yes.
Customers are now less loyal than they have ever been. Discount and coupons systems are no longer effective at achieving customer loyalty, particularly when it comes to ecommerce, and in this sense customer loyalty is no more.
However, a new form of loyalty is emerging. A form in which focuses on:
in order to create great relationships, and therefore retain online customers.
Increasingly important in today’s online marketplace is knowing your customer and tailoring your business platform to create an elevated customer experience.
Loyalty platforms should not be used exclusively as a method to entice customers with rewards, but also as a way of learning about them and their online shopping habits.
Take Amazon for example. They log customer shopping patterns and preferences in order to tailor their marketing and suggest products and services specific to each visitor. This creates a personalized experience for the shopper, enhancing their association with the brand and encouraging them to remain loyal to the site.
This is far more effective at enhancing customer loyalty than the previous tactic of offering coupons and discounts, particularly given the ease and effectiveness of customer analytics on the internet.
The average customer is a member of eight loyalty schemes. It is therefore increasingly important that companies are able to distinguish themselves from their competitors.
By appealing to the customers’ emotion and creating an external culture, businesses can engage their customers using the brand. They embed it within their lifestyles to create a new form of loyalty.
Companies should find out why their customers are loyal. Then, leverage this information to pave the way for potential future loyal e-customers.
Consider Mini Cooper, who has had a host of loyal followers since their inception in the 1950’s. They are not the fastest, nor the cheapest. However, the history and heritage surrounding Mini Cooper elicit a form of emotional attachment for its customers, making them loyal to the brand. In this sense, Mini Cooper was ahead of their time with regards to their customer loyalty strategy. This is perhaps why they are still so successful today.
Now companies have learned about customer habits and preferences, they should use this knowledge to optimize their range of products and services and maximize customer engagement.
Customers can be loyal to a company because they love a specific product, such as Starbuck’s coffee. However, a strategy that businesses could use to optimally engage with customers on a broader level is enhancing their products and services across the whole range.
Nike is an outstanding example of this. With their extensive product range, including their athletic apparel, shoes (both sport and fashion), and even running apps for smartphones. The interconnectivity of the products creates a stickiness to the brand that makes its followers loyal Nike customers.
The vast choice available on the internet creates a greater desire for simplicity and ease. More than ever engagement is a key strategy for encouraging customer loyalty in ecommerce.
The future of e-loyalty lies in building and maintaining relationships with the customer. Do this by learning about their needs, tailoring business services to these needs and engaging them so that they feel attached to the brand. Using a discount loyalty platform, a customer may return to a business several times.
However, this is a precarious relationship that could easily be broken by a competitor offering better deals. Remember: repeat customers are not always loyal customers.
Customer loyalty as we know it is dead. But, like a phoenix, it has risen from the ashes in stronger and more powerful, ready to take on the world of ecommerce.
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