The pandemic and lockdown have compelled retailers to completely rethink the brick and mortar shopping experience, forcing a major revision of the retail industry. When the physical stores were abruptly closed, retailers had to review their omnichannel strategy right away and begin creating contactless user experiences. The epidemic undoubtedly altered the rules of retail, but it also made businesses flexible in order to meet rising client expectations.
In many aspects, people’s thinking has changed, as well as how they behave and shop. Because of how the pandemic affected daily life, consumers had a chance to try out new shopping habits. With customers and distribution channels constantly changing, loyalty programmes for customers need to become more smart. The loyalty programme should actually be designed in such a way that it complements the consumer’s adoption of other channels in addition to being interactive across all channels given the advent of omni-channel. No matter what touchpoint they are at, the company’s loyalty program must be created in a way that the same customer feels privileged to be affiliated with your business.
According to a McKinsey study, 75% of shoppers have experimented with new buying habits, such as shopping online or locally. Customers were looking for businesses that shared their values as well as convenience and value, especially among Gen Z and millennial customers.This offers a chance for business owners that want to benefit from consumer loyalty. Your business can increase market share by responding to these trends as consumers start switching to new brands from established ones.
Following the pandemic, consumer behavior in India is drastically changing:
According to EY’s most recent analysis, “COVID-19 and the creation of a new consumer products landscape in India,” 60% of Indian shoppers think COVID-19 will transform the way they purchase. Consumers’ primary concerns during the early stages of the pandemic were their families’ wellbeing and their ability to meet their daily necessities. These widespread worries are showing out in various ways. According to the EY Future Consumer Index, a survey of 1,046 Indian consumers, largely in metropolitan areas, including their present behaviors, sentiment, and intent, this is described by four separate consumer behavior segments.
- Spend and hibernate (38% of respondents): These consumers are most prepared to handle the pandemic but are also concerned about it.
- Cut deep (35% of those surveyed): Consumers who are skeptical about the future and are now cutting back on purchases across all categories are included in this category. More than 40% of this demographic spend more on grocery delivery services. (367 responders total)
- Saving and stockpiling (25% of respondents): Worried about their family, pessimistic about the future, and storing necessities has led to a 55% increase in expenditure on household and hygiene items. (266 responses total)
- Be patient and persevere (2% of respondents): The least affected consumers, who make up a relatively small percentage overall, are those who are predicted to carry on with their previous shopping habits.
It is obvious that the pandemic has profoundly altered consumer values, leading to a need for a more responsible kind of consumerism. Consumer buying is increasingly being influenced by other reasons than merely affordability, such as sustainability, social impact, and true necessity. Consumers are shifting toward mindful consumption as they have the time and desire to pause and think twice about the things they buy and the way they consume them. Brands and retailers must now make sure they are prepared to respond to and meet evolving consumer expectations.
So, using an omnichannel strategy can help retain clients without spending too much on marketing and incentives. Customers’ preferences are always changing, thus communication and interaction with the company shouldn’t be limited to one platform. The present business landscape therefore requires omnichannel marketing.
Customer loyalty is still very much alive and thriving, but the nature of loyalty is evolving as a result of digital disruption and new generational influences. In almost every nation, loyalty was more likely to be fostered by corporate openness and honesty than by points and prizes. Too much depends on maintaining client loyalty for a customer loyalty program..
Eg: When we were thinking of designing The New Shop’s loyalty program, we wanted to create an interactive and integrated experience for our customers across all channels.
It was important for us that whether a customer shops from our brand at a marketplace, or our ecommerce website, our app or our offline store; their loyalty points should be captured and accounted for.
Seven tactics to increase loyalty:
- Be aware of the increase in emotional loyalty. Experience is all about how someone feels about their interactions with your brand prior to, during, and following a transaction. The more ways you have to interact with clients, and the more likely it is that they will do so in the future, the more you will comprehend it.
- Invest in segmenting your customer base. You should update analytical models that are intended to assist you better understand your clients as habits and preferences have changed.
- Analyze how inflexible your loyalty programs are and rethink the choice of rewards, including going beyond points and discounts to encourage experiential loyalty.
- Implement a data-driven personalisation approach to increase customer engagement and foster more intimate relationships with them.
- When possible, experiment and learn with subscriptions while keeping an open mind so that you may swiftly make changes in response to subscriber feedback. Recognize the possibility of “subscription fatigue” with existing models and consider how you may modify them to take into account changing client wants.
- Create a consistent multichannel customer experience by developing a balanced strategy to both physical and digital consumer engagement.
- Make understanding younger and more ethnically and economically diverse people a top priority because doing so can help you capitalize on their preferences and needs to increase loyalty.
Omnichannel Vs Traditional loyalty programs:
Customers are rewarded for their in-store purchases when they use a standard loyalty program. Its primary objective is to generate revenue through a single sales channel, and it compensates users with a points system that, after accumulation, can be used to obtain discounts or exclusive deals. Some shops even offer tiered or VIP programs where customers can enroll in to receive exclusive benefits like deals or discounts.
However, merchants are limited in how far they can go with their customer loyalty strategy using conventional rewards programs. Traditional channels are no longer practical. Loyalty programs are under pressure to improve their client retention strategy as the retail sector becomes more competitive.
Instead of only building point systems that motivate customers to make additional purchases, an omnichannel loyalty program places a greater emphasis on customer involvement.
The interaction in omnichannel programs is higher. They can make the customer rewards program more engaging for customers even if they aren’t actively considering making a purchase.
Customers can, for instance, accrue points by completing particular actions, such as completing surveys or reviewing products. Retailers are able to provide a tailored experience with more touch points through mobile apps or in-store transactions since they may gather customer data from various sales channels.
Once a buyer makes a purchase, the discounts or special offers they have accrued through other sales channels can be applied. With an omnichannel loyalty strategy, customers may interact with businesses or make purchases whenever they want, from any location, and their reward status will be tracked consistently across all of their devices.
Programs for omnichannel loyalty are more practical. This is as a result of their emphasis on fostering relationships with clients and instilling a sense of importance in them.
Additionally, clients who feel an emotional connection to a brand are worth three times as much in the long run as those who don’t. Customers likely spend more at omnichannel retailers than at traditional ones for this reason. Additionally, it’s important to remember that clients’ needs are constantly changing. Retailers have a higher chance of fast responding and gaining more market share if they have an omnichannel presence.
For retailers to successfully navigate and respond to consumer behavior, they will need a reward programme that improves the entire customer experience. They must interact with customers and deliver messaging via mobile devices, which is how people choose, in order to do this.
Giving out incentives to participants in an omnichannel loyalty program goes beyond just trying to boost sales. It’s extremely important to give them a wonderful experience that precisely reflects their demands and wants. Retailers can accomplish this by utilizing consumer information for key indicators that offer each client individualized content depending on their interests.
The construction of an engaging and integrated experience for our customers across all channels is what the future of the digital loyalty program entails.