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Mining the loyalty gap: lucrative tips from the Retail Technology Show

What's going on with retail?

On one hand, customer confidence and economic conditions are low, as the cost-of-living crisis persists. Shoppers, shaped by the pandemic and the supply chain crunch, have adopted the behaviour of trading down, jumping brands and seeking deals.

On the other hand, spending hasn't seemed to stop and shoppers are returning to stores en masse.

Retailers are left in a tough spot. Not only are conditions as cloudy as ever, but many are in dire need of technology upgrades.

Overcoming these seemingly universal obstacles was the subject of this year's Retail Technology Show. The consensus: customer retention is the best path to capturing wallet share and minimising uncertainty. And the marriage of stores with technology engenders loyalty with optimal ease and profitability.

No wonder, as Retail Gazette reports, leading retailers are flocking to Unified Commerce solutions.

In this blog post, we share key insights from the Retail Technology Show 2023, outlining exactly how you can improve loyalty with a Unified Commerce-empowered store. Here's what we learned.

Why is loyalty the hot topic of 2023?

The pandemic and its aftershocks led to widespread behaviour change in the retail consumer. They became accustomed to searching for what they want and trading off brands in an instant.

The modern shopper is strategic, deliberate and detached.

This is not to say that all shoppers are brand agnostic. In fact, it's hardly the case. Consumers want consistency from your assortments, reliability from your enterprise and a relationship with your brand.

As widely discussed at the Retail Technology Show, retailers should prioritise their stores as their dominant loyalty driver. With convenient alternatives literally at their fingertips, in-store shoppers tend to be more qualified buyers than digital shoppers. In fact, stores typically convert sales at roughly 30% - that's six times more than digital channels.

Unified Commerce technology takes advantage of this gap in the market, and technology is the only way to achieve a true frictionless experience in our omnichannel world.

How to make the most of customer retention

As Constanze Freienstein, former CEO of Lands' End Europe, shared in her presentation, "How Can Retailers Maximise Customer Retention When Customers Are Being More Cautious In Their Spending Habits?", her brand frequently approached the ideal rebuy rate of 70 percent.

But while she recognised rebuys as critical to the loyalty equation, she also realised retailers must look deeper to understand how profitable are your shoppers (i.e.the CLTV)? And whether the relationship between the shopper and your brand is symbiotic?

But how can you measure this mutual loyalty? And how can you foster loyalty with your ideal customers? The answer is in your data. Here's what Freienstein shared:

  • Understand your customers beyond personas. Personas are valuable. But without context, they can quickly become rigid and indistinct. Your shoppers are individuals,  transcending and traversing personas. Unified Commerce technology aggregates real-time data revealing exactly what your shoppers want and how they interact with your brand.
  • Dive deeper than transactional data. For example, evaluate your loyalty programmes for which non-sales rewards resonate. This can help you assign rewards to the non-sales interactions that help you optimally shape shoppers' journeys.

To succeed in modern retail, you must be able to understand your customers in every context. If you do, you will be rewarded with an accurate, insightful database that will help you shape experiences, adapt accordingly and attract your best customers.

Your stores are the stage for experiences

Despite all the disruptions and diverging opinions, the store remains the dominant sales channel, still involved in well more than 70% of sales.

In the session "Driving Competitive Advantage Through In-Store Experience," attendees learned ample opportunities to maximise the best channel for driving loyalty: the store.

Some key points from the presentation:

  • To drive traffic to your stores, you need to blend experiences, engagement and competitive advantage.
  • Remember experiences are much more than aesthetic and interactive.
  • Invest in ease and speed. Unified Commerce is elite at both.
  • Consider experiences that are low-lift and high-ROI like employee recommendations.

Unified Commerce enables loyalty

Today, retailers must evolve beyond omnichannel and focus on Unified Commerce.

"Omnichannel feels like it's focusing on business needs, while Unified Commerce focuses on what customers are doing," Cassandra Bergsland, Director of Omnichannel at John Lewis, recently said.

As Ajay Nassa, CEO of Virgin Megastores, Saudi Arabia, expounded in the presentation, "Boosting Customer Engagement Through Taking a More Omnichannel Approach to Investment," a holistic experience across every channel lifts brand perception, increases sales and grows value. Unified Commerce makes this possible by delivering a consistent value through convenience, experience and recognition.

It starts from within your organisation, earning buy-in from every department, particularly IT, Store Operations and Marketing.

After all, Unified Commerce is a loyalty strategy that pays its biggest dividends in aggregate. Unified Commerce exposes almost every online and offline opportunity a retailer can make to enhance the shopping experience. It makes it easy to receive feedback and iterate.

Nassa emphasised the opportunity for localisation, explaining how granular data unearths local and cultural needs. In addition, localisation helps align individual experiences to global brand goals, while local data allows you to adapt assortments to demand.

Nassa also recommended investing in the invaluable overlaps between segments. Here's how:

  • Bring opportunities to personalise to the surface with consumer data.
  • Achieve peak profitability by revealing second category sales, typically the overlap between segments.
  • Build promotions beyond the traditional RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetisation) model and make them feel relevant, specific and personal.

Unlock loyalty with Unified Commerce technology

Consumer behaviour will continue to change, and as individual demands project to vary, spending habits appear to only become more strategic.

Loyalty will separate the winners and losers in 2023 and beyond.

Unified Commerce enterprises are positioned for the most success in the modern market. Unified Commerce technology integrates easily, unifying front-end experiences with back and systems and enabling immediate impact to ROI in both the short- and long-term.

Aptos' suite of market-leading Unified Commerce solutions helps you aggregate data to best understand your customers, optimally enhance experiences and build the infrastructure to attract, scale and earn the most from customer loyalty in an otherwise disloyal retail market.

Want to learn more?

Aptos’ suite of solutions helps you gain loyalty, increase sales and streamline your omnichannel retail brand.