Loyalty Sells

To keep repeat customers you must consider recognition. For instance, keep track of the types of purchases your loyal buyers make, and on their next visit offer them the same or similar product at a special “Repeat Customer” discount. Or you can put into place the increasingly popular Customer Loyalty Program, giving your repeat customers a sense of exclusivity, while also supplying them with discounts, freebies and more. Yet part of being an independent retailer is offering something unique. And while one of a kind merchandise is what brings the customers into your store, an original reward and recognition system is also what keeps them out of the big box retail stores.

Fox Business suggests a few new loyalty gestures that may excite your current customers, so much so that they bring in new business by telling all their friends:

1) Implement a customer loyalty program with a twist. Rather than providing a standard card with standard rewards to all customers, whether they’ve come to the store once, twice or one hundred times in the past year, create categories or a hierarchy system (e.g., gold, platinum, silver, copper). Each category is tied to specific benefits, and most importantly, the benefits are attained not only by the amount of money spent, but types of purchases made, referrals and years of loyalty.

2) Make your appreciation public. While everyone enjoys an attitude of appreciation and a personal thank you, they also like a little bit of the limelight. So, create an honor roll on one or all of your social sites. Your store is benefiting from the sales your customers provide, by making it all about them, your customers will feel as if they are the ones benefiting.

3) Let them know they are worth your personal time. Take time out of your schedule and write a handwritten note to thank your repeat customers for their patronage. In a world of automated responses, every personal touch you add to your thank you can go a long way. Customers are taking time out of their day to shop at your store, the least you can do is take a minute and recognize this.

Candace Canty, owner of an independent pet supply boutique in Chicago’s Southport Avenue shopping corridor, says, “You have to cater (the rewards) to your business,” as well as your customers. She continues to tell the Press of Atlantic City, “For our customers, dogs are part of their life, and we’re part of their routine. We’re their little community store.” And so, Canty felt it was only right to recognize both owners and their dogs. She hangs a portrait of each customer and their furry friend on her shop wall. While the recognition may not mean a frequent discount on supplies, customers still feel appreciated and Canty doesn’t have to worry about continual discounts negatively affecting her bottom line. Creative rewards help address a crucial challenge: how to keep customers without promising