The Ever-Changing Landscape of Retail Loyalty

Jan 23, 2015

Over the past decade, several major factors have significantly disrupted the retail and restaurant industries: including the evolution of eCommerce, the rise of social media, and most significantly, mobile devices and the broader mobile channel. All of these channels – as well as the insights into consumer behaviors they provide – have influenced loyalty marketers and the way they design their campaigns and programs.

Examining the restaurant and retail Retail Changessectors specifically, two industries that were already heavily social, these trends have created more opportunities for increased customer engagement through social media channels, location-based messaging, gamification and innovative rewards structures. And, with digital and mobile playing an integral part in consumer purchasing decisions, omnichannel loyalty and crafting moments that matter are shaping the consumer experience.

According to a recent report by MIT, 80% of shoppers check prices online before making a purchase, 1.1 trillion in-store sales are influenced by the web, $12 billion in retail sales are made on mobile devices and $252 billion in revenue results from online shopping.

Other key trends include Millennials, the generation of younger consumers whose lives are driven by technology. Spending a collective $600 billion in-store and online each year, marketers are using trends in technology to capture their attention. With innovations such as the Apple Watch, Google Glass and other smart watches becoming part of Millennials’ daily wardrobe, analysts predict that wearable technology sales will be more than 485 million by 2018.

Looking back (and ahead), other technologies have taken what was once a predominately brick-and-mortar shopping or dining experience and transformed them into a virtual experience heavily controlled by the consumer. A large factor in this change is the mobile device, now ubiquitous across every demographic and consumer spending category. A recent Forrester report predicted that consumers will use m-payments, or pay using their mobile device more this year than ever before.

These mobile payments are expected to grow by 43% each year, bringing in an anticipated $90 billion by 2017.

Taking all that we’ve seen so far this year, as loyalty marketers, our collective goal should be to integrate the most effective technologies, look closely at our program design and think deeply about how well we know our customers – and if we’re truly rewarding them.

There is one ultimate truth we hope you take with you: With customer preferences constantly in flux, and today’s technology becoming tomorrow’s news, loyalty marketers should understand that real customer loyalty depends on how willing you are to adapt to the change.

How many changes will you make this year?

Contact us if you’re responsible for developing and running a loyalty program and need help navigating the trends impacting loyalty and customer experience.  We have a deep understanding of the retail loyalty trends and the innovations, challenges and opportunities facing your customer loyalty and rewards programs.