Cross Channel Rewards to boost Customer loyalty

Cross channel Rewards to boost customer loyaltyIf customer loyalty is important for the success of your business—and it obviously is—it becomes even more so in an economic climate like the one we are experiencing today. Fortunately, new innovations in the retail sector like the advent of online and mobile channels has made it much easier for you to launch targeted and cost effective campaigns to promote long-term relationships with your customers.

It is important to note however that such campaigns should ideally be redeemable through the channel of your customer’s choice. To maximize success, you need to promote brand advocacy across all sales channels using a mix of technology and business capability that allows your customers to engage with your brand on their own terms. You can accomplish this by taking the following steps:

  1. Implement a system-wide strategy for gathering and evaluating customer information for personalized promotions, with a centralized marketing database to give you a unified view of your customers, and facilitate unified messaging and channel strategies. Also, appoint a customer officer to supervise and manage all aspects of your customer loyalty programs, including promotions, events and campaigns.
  2. Designate a cross-departmental team to set guidelines for tracking and measuring the success of your loyalty systems, making sure that customer needs are a key component of your cross-channel loyalty offerings and that you maintain a consistent message rather than sending varied messages depending on channels of delivery. You want to know that you are using all sales channels to attain integrated customer loyalty programs resulting in retention, engagement and reactivation.
  3. Integrate mobile marketing into your cross-channel loyalty programs by taking advantage of strategies like mobile coupons delivered through web marketing, mobile apps, Short Message Service (SMS) and Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS).
  4. Conduct social media campaigns. For example, start up an online community as part of an opt-in micro-site with information on products, promotional offers, and web events exclusively for your loyalty members—then expand to include games, online contests, in-store events and mobile device interactions for loyalty customers.
  5. Identify more ways you can use online communities to connect with target populations as part of an integrated customer loyalty program. You might want to create fan pages to form exclusive communities with user generated content and promotional offers that allow consumers to follow and interact with you online; or set up your micro-site so when customers engage with your brand you can receive suggestions regarding product and operations. You can then implement the ones you judge beneficial to both your brand and your customers, giving them a sense of being part of a special community and of having part ownership in their own shopping experiences.

Additional components commonly used as part of an effective loyalty system include:

  • Membership discount cards as part of a paid plan program offering specific promotions to its members and access to exclusive deals and promotions around seasonal merchandizing.
  • Rewards or frequency offers for retaining current and regular customers, typically extending benefits based on how often the customer shops, like dollars or point perks when specific spending or frequency thresholds are crossed. This might also include a multi-tier loyalty program aimed at rewarding your most lucrative customers and personalizing their purchasing experiences by providing incentives like pre-sales on select items, priority access to products with limited inventory, discounts, and exclusive offers based on their purchasing patterns.

A proper mixture of the above components across all channels while operating a thoroughly integrated cross-channel loyalty program is an extremely effective recipe for boosting long-term customer loyalty.

Six ways to prosper Online retail business

Getting started in setting up a fancy eCommerce store with attractive features can really not start till one gains faith of the browsers to our online portal. eCommerce businesses globally are facing a fierce issue Browse but not buy behavior from online community.eCommerce

To combat abandoned carts, what steps must a Retailer really take??

The only possible way out to this is by gaining trust, which means by gaining the confidence of visitors to your site so that they buy from your online store without any fear. The best possible way through which online retailers (especially pure online retailers – with or without inventory) can gain trust is to “HUMANIZE THE ONLINE STORE”.

Question in focus is how?

It simply refers to making your online store more interactive by providing value added features  which ensure the genuinity of transactions to online shoppers & makes them  believe that they a dealing with are a real business and/or person to automated machine or a piece of junk software.

There are a few strategies that can help you humanize your eCommerce store, which in turn would help you gain trust and build a huge & loyal customer base.

Chat Live: Adding a LIVE CHAT button on an eCommerce website is a method for telling people that their queries will be straightaway answered by the appointed customer support representatives. More often, live chats are text based & one can easily manage resources from their existing Brick & mortar channel without much of  pain

Speak Live… with your customers: Providing a facility for your online shoppers to speak to you or your associates is one of the best ways to humanize online business. Employing Toll-free numbers has been a globally accepted phenomenon to interact with your client & reaffirm that he is doing business at the right place. With Cloud telephony becoming a rage call back forms or click to call functionality too can be conveniently integrated to an eCommerce portal.

Broadcast Live: Videos of product reviews, demos, and so on from your product expert would also add value. … Videos are one of the most effective ways to communicate with the modern mobile, social shopper, it generates curiosity and has been a great medium to generate sales.

Mail Live: Another feature that can help is email forms and email ids provided on your website. It allows people to email instantly to reach you if they have any queries.

Answer Live: Online shoppers are always on the quest for product information, so they ask questions on forums, visit review sites and other authentic sources. Making your staff/product experts available at these places for answering these queries will help shoppers gain trust.

Be Social:  Integrating your online store to the social environment contributes a lot towards humanizing your store. Social media plays a monumental role in brand building; there are numerous tools to publish yourself and network with end users directly. Successful online retailers have used them to track customer preferences & choices and have succeeded in outshining others who didn’t

Innovations in iVend Retail – a three part webinar series

A three part webinar series on iVend Retail Suite of Applications focuses on the recent innovations in iVend Retail. The sessions are beneficial to modern age Retailers looking for integrated retail systems for better profitability & efficiency.

Session One talks about about retail analytics and how a CEO/ CFO take better decisions to make a profitable retail business. iVend Analytics is a Business Intelligence (BI) platform that provides Dashboards and Analytics for iVend Retail, SAP Software or any other Application .

iVend Analytics is a set of pre-packaged, shrink wrapped Business Intelligence dashboards which seamlessly plug into iVend Retail. With in-memory processing of iVend Analytics, SAP and/ or iVend users can use Sales, Inventory, Executive, Loyalty or Retail BI applications. Additional applications can be built based on customer requirement.

Session Two talks about in-store management, multi-channel retailing, customer loyalty management and how does iVend Retail help retailers improve their operational efficiencies.

Effective in-store management involves making routine tasks easy and configurable to adapt to different business situations.

Store is one place where one gets to see and experience Merchandizing, Warehousing – the larger supply chain, accounting – from a finance viewpoint, marketing and customer relationship management. It is the store manager who effectively orchestrates these different business processes

Multi Channel Retailing which is indeed the buzz word these days in the retail industry is also discussed in session two. More and more retailers are today adopting and incorporating Multi Channel Retailing as a mainstay part of their business and overall retail strategy. As the name suggests, it is about having multiple channels of carrying out retail business. This session explains the ease of taking ones business on-line using iVend eCommerce and how does iVend Retail Suite of applications makes a business truly multi-channel.

Customer Loyalty Management is the focus area of almost all the retailers. For the consumer, it makes absolutely no difference whether this relationship building happens actively on a Brick & Mortar store or on a web store front or through a mobile application. He wants a similar Overall Retail experience and customer service let it be any medium / channel he uses to complete his business. This session explains the seamless integration of iVend Loyalty – a points and rewards management application into iVend Retail.

Session Three discusses Importance of Inventory Planning & management, Different retailer types and their expectations.

Inventories being the biggest investment (to the tune of over 80%) that a retailer makes, even a small percentage reduction in inventory holding costs will make a huge contribution in savings of the retailer.

This session talks about the tools available to the retailers to effective plan and manage their inventory.

At the operational level Enhanced MRP helps retailer plan day to day replenishments and Inventory Pro – RF helps improve the warehousing processes.

At the strategic and planning level, Sales Forecasting and OTB (Open to Buy) in iPlan help retailer better plan the sales forecast and the associated purchase budgets.

e-commerce challenges in the age of Integrated Retail

eCommerce banner

Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, said about e-commerce, “Any company, old or new, that does not see this technology as important as breathing could be on its last breath.” A global meme has swept every market place, transforming it into a virtual one. Retailers which don’t compete in this modem-controlled land are missing out on a universe of potential customers. Today it’s no longer necessary to limit trade to the locales of your brick and mortar stores. The American retailer has the capacity to tap into 44% of the world’s internet users by venturing into the territory of over a million online Asians and 22.1% of the online market by targeting another million living in Europe. These users only form three quarters of the global online population, which serves you a total of 2.2 billion potential customers on a golden platter, salted and spiced with an annual growth rate of just over 500%.
With the world online, your challenge has ballooned drastically and you now need to provide your clientele with a point of sale experience, at both the actual and virtual point of sale that is seamless, loyalty-inspiring and prompt.

The point of sale, at its best, is where customers are transformed into clients. At its worst it’s where loyal clients are permanently lost. Long queues, scanning errors, a POS system that confuses staff and lengthens transaction time all have potential to pound down those profits through vanishing clients. In the universe of e-commerce this caliber of transaction comes instead under the guise of insecure payment structures and forms that are difficult to locate and crawling with bugs. Here, clients click out of your site with the ease and speed of a breath, taking their credit cards with them. The point of sale is where customer service is at its purest because here, clients have no suspicion that service excellence is happening under the mask of an attempt to make a sale. When a retailer excels at the till point, both online and in store, he earns the kind of brownie points that clients don’t easily forget having awarded.
Loyalty programs in retail are now a norm rather than the exception. Another meme has spread gloom over global markets, in the form of a recession, is herding customers’ platinum cards towards the retailers that offer the discounts. Following customer service excellence, the most likely facet to draw repeat business from customers is a loyalty scheme. One that can morph customers into loyalists needs to be relevant to their needs and desires. It also needs to be judged by them as sufficient. Anything less renders a possible gold mine futile. Most loyalty schemes do precisely this by offering rewards that are too small, not well targeted to their markets and unrealistic expiration dates. One that delivers what the client wants is rare and thus deeply appreciated. An impressed customer then becomes what is still one of the most valuable forms of advertising: old fashioned word of mouth. In the planet of e-commerce this brand of publicity will be offered to you in the form of the online review, which inspires more confidence in 97% of consumers than even the most flamboyant sales clerk is capable of. Of course, that review also has a reach of a couple of billion working credit cards.
For the retail CEO, all these channels can be controlled powerfully by an innovative and integrated POS system that manages front and back end business on and off line. iVend systems give you a fluid experience that operates across loyalty programs, POS and e-commerce–exceptionally.

Innovate or Face Extinction

A business needs to innovate or they risk becoming irrelevant.

The typical sales model no longer applies for retailers. There’s no doubt that there will always be a need for brick and mortar stores; people need to touch and feel a product before purchasing it. In fact, over a third of online consumers cite this as the top reason they don’t prefer to buy online.

Innovate or Face Extinction in RetailToday, however, it’s really all about convenience: consumers want to buy whenever they want to, wherever they are, and as easily and hassle-free as possible. They may love shopping at your store most of the time; but they also want to be able to purchase from you when they are stuck at the office late or at midnight when they are shopping for holiday gifts. Retailers big and small must integrate multi-channel retailing into their repertoire or they will experience attrition in sales and their customer base consistently.

The latest innovations in retailing tend to be adopted early by large retailers. Consider these interesting new innovations:

  • Nordstrom’s just announced that they are testing a mobile application that will allow customers to order custom made men’s suits whenever they desire. Can you imagine sitting in your hotel room at midnight, while away on business in Asia, ordering several thousand dollars worth of custom, high end suits?
  • Neiman Marcus has a mobile app that allows you to work with your favorite sales associate.

Are you embracing innovation in your business? If not, imagine the impact of the following scenarios on the success of your business.

A frequent client stops by your shop, looking for a dress for an upcoming special occasion.  After trying on several dresses, she leaves, saying she’d like to think it over more. Later that week, she decides on one of the dresses at your shop, but she’s at a mall twenty minutes away and your store is closing.

She looks up your store on her mobile phone’s browser so she can purchase it and then pick it up tomorrow. Alas, your webpage doesn’t have mobile capability. She gets frustrated when it’s cumbersome to navigate your site, and ends up ordering the same dress from another store at a nearby mall.

Loss of convenience = Dollars flying out the window.

Your children’s retail boutique recently started carrying a decorative accessory that is aimed toward the preteen girl’s demographic. It’s predicted to be the new hot trend. While in-store sales are fairly flat for this item, they seem to be selling well online. However, you don’t have the time or the tools to assess who’s buying these items. You soon run out of stock and the item is backordered.

If you had a retail management solution that integrated with your multi-channel retailing, you’d have quick access to important customer data, such as detailed demographics of purchasers as well as anyone who clicks on your site. What if a young teen in Texas wore this to her school and started a huge trend, which quickly spread in the area?

By having quick access to this data and integrating it with your social media platforms and customer loyalty programs, you could have marketed to a targeted demographic. Instead, some other retailer has capitalized on the trend. 

No management tools = Lost sales.

You own a chain of electronic and consumer goods stores. They become crowded during weekends, especially when you are running popular promotions, and it often seems like your sales staff isn’t able to keep up with all the questions.  A male shopper who is well-versed in IT equipment stops by to purchase a computer and other accessories, all of which are on sale. However, he can’t get anyone to help him and the checkout lines are long. Because he’s in a hurry, he leaves and plans to come back later. But he doesn’t get a chance to stop back before the sale ends, and takes advantage of a competitor’s sale on the same item the following weekend.

If your store had been equipped with mobile solutions, such as in-store tablets, your customers could order their purchases throughout the store and speed up the process.

Imagine making your customer’s shopping experiences a simple and easy task. Whether at home, on the road, or in your store, your innovative systems are providing them with ideas, information, and convenience. This translates into more sales and revenue for your business.

Can you afford not to innovate?

How To Increase Retail Profits With An Ecommerce Platform

If you currently operate a physical retail operation, there are basically only two ways to increase the profitability of your retail operation
  1. Improve the efficiency of your present physical store
  2. Add another distribution channel which could be either an additional physical store or an on-line ecommerce operation.

Theoretically, adding another physical store could approach doubling your profits, assuming that your new operation can be essentially a clone of your existing operation. You could approach doubling your profit because while all facilities and processes could be duplicated, the most essential ingredient, YOU, is limited to one. Additionally, you will be required to add at least one additional manager, further reducing the profitability gain of the new operation. And, the investment will equal your original investment in your physical store. On the plus side, you may make small gains on the basis of economy of scale; and, if logistically feasible, your inventory might be less than doubled. Also, some back room operations, accounting, payroll, billings, etc could be integrated.

But, today, with the availability of innovative retail management software, establishing an ecommerce operation to work in tandem with your physical store is a far more effective way to increase sales volume with multiple increases in profit. With implementation of an integrated retail management software, your sales volume could be triples or more using far less in resources than adding a second physical store.

What are the essential features of an integrated retail management software?

  1. It seamlessly integrates the offline and online operations. Make Promotions, items, pricing, customers, vendors etc in either systems and let the software sync all systems for you.
  2. Your inventory is maintained and serviced through a common data base. Physically, inventory is located within the offline operation with product and inventory data being readily available to the online store. In turn, the online sales orders are directed to the physical store for fulfillment.
  3. The integrated data base tracks online and offline sales for each of your customers enabling you to concentrate additional marketing and sales effort where it is likely to be most profitable.
  4. All performance data for the combined operations is presented in an integrated fashion with breakout of the two entities available on demand.
  5. You retail management software will include a loyalty system to encourage enhanced customer engagement
  6. Be able to provide product info and purchase ability through mobile devices, including providing supplementary product info in your physical store.
  7. Your retail management software system must be scalable. To run your back-end accounting processes, you may start with an SME ERP like SAP Business One as back-end for small store chains but you should be able to migrate to larger systems like SAP All-in-one (SAP Retail) without changing your retail systems.
  8. The provider of your retail management software must be provably skilled in installation and maintenance; and must be able and available to service the system on demand.

Operational advantages of adding an ecommerce channel to your existing physical store with integrated software are: .

  1. Ecommerce PlatformIt enables, YOU, the manager to more closely control the combined operation as compared to either two physical stores, or an off-line and on-line operation that are not integrated or synchronized.
  2. The ecommerce channel adds a communication channel to your link with existing offline customers. It will be easier to make additional sales to these existing customers simply because you can reach them online with additional offerings. Customers can use Loyalty points either in physical or online store.
  3. Retail management software provides opportunities to sell-up, sell-more, and sell-more-often. Planning engine can tell you what sells where and how you can increase sales via which mode.
  4. A retail management software system reduces cost of sales by increasing sales without a commensurate increase in overhead. Able to offer physical store pick-up for local customers.
  5. Your retail management software system enables you to duplicate work. A promotion can be made for physical store but should be easily be sent to online store as well.

To get additional specific information on how an integrated retail management software with Webstore will improve your profitability, read more about Ecommerce Platform for iVend or contact your local CitiXsys partner today.