Future of Retail — Omnichannel

issue 03

experience of engaging with a loyalty programme. It involves every aspect of doing business with a retailer, from the moment they begin browsing, through to making a purchase and seeking support. Failing to recognise a customer (or their loyalty) on just

one channel can cause friction in the customer journey and sour their overall experience. But when a customer feels known, valued and cared for no matter where they interact with a brand, positive emotional connections begin to form - and this leads to long-term loyalty that isn’t dependent on price. The whole organisation therefore is involved in

growing customer loyalty - everyone that interacts with the customer, delivers the product, or designs the customer journey has an impact on the overall experience.

NEW LOYALTY IS AN APPROACH, NOT A PROGRAMME So, the new approach to loyalty must be omnichannel - and it must be carried out across the entirety of the customer journey. Rather than building an omnichannel loyalty programme, retailers should consider how they can build loyalty into their entire omnichannel strategy. What does this look like in practice? To start with, it

means taking a customer-centric approach across the organisation, optimising each aspect of interacting with the business to make them easier and more engaging for shoppers. This includes reducing customer effort, simplifying the journey and removing barriers to purchase. But to increase loyalty (not just customer satisfaction),

retailers must emphasise the relationship between the customer and the brand. This means knowing who a customer is and their history with the brand every time they interact. For example, if a customer calls the support centre

with a complaint, the agent that assists them should be able to see what they’ve purchased, how valuable they are as a customer, how they’re already feeling about the brand, whether they’re a loyalty programme member, and so on - and be able to react accordingly. Similarly, every direct communication with the

customer - through email, a mobile app, an online portal, etc. - should reinforce the idea that the retailer knows who the customer is and values their loyalty. This level of personalisation across customer

interactions is essential to building deeper customer relationships and long-term loyalty.

LOYALTY THAT LASTS Many retailers fall into the trap of thinking that loyalty programme members are equivalent to loyal customers. But even those who are active in the programme aren’t necessarily committed to the retailer - some consumers are more loyal to a discount than to the brand. Appealing to customers’ emotions (rather than their wallets) is essential for cultivating true loyalty. As a retailer, how can you build loyalty into your

omnichannel strategy? Start by conducting a loyalty audit or “healthcheck” across your business. This should assess any rewards programme currently in place, as well as the overall customer experience - particularly from the perspective of personalised, consistent interactions on different channels. A loyalty healthcheck will identify areas that need

improvement, provide focus to the strategy, and inform next steps - whether that’s staff training, redesigning the customer journey, bringing in new technology, etc. Some businesses expect a loyalty programme to

solve much deeper issues with customers’ sentiment towards their brand. Others are ready to abandon loyalty programmes altogether and compete solely on customer experience. And while this may work for a select few (think Apple), for the average retailer in a saturated marketplace, it isn’t enough. The new era of loyalty requires both - an advanced,

omnichannel loyalty programme and an outstanding customer experience. A successful loyalty strategy involves a programme that’s personalised and accessible at every touch point, while recognising that true loyalty doesn’t come from a rewards programme alone. When the entire organisation is committed to driving

loyalty, you’ll be able to deliver an omnichannel approach tailored for the modern consumer, with personalised interactions that make customers feel known and valued whatever channel they choose. This is how retailers will create loyalty that lasts longer than a discount - and reap the rewards themselves.

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