How Merchants Can Create Customer Loyalty


February 2019


Customer loyalty is defined as “A buyer’s preference for doing business with a particular business establishment.” In a world where customers can spend their money how and wherever they want, nothing is more valuable than a satisfied and loyal customer. According to an article published by Harvard Business School, “acquiring new customers can cost five times more than satisfying and retaining current customers.” Let that soak in for a minute. A loyal customer’s value is irreplaceable.

It’s easier to keep a loyal customer coming back. They are passionate about your product, your business, service, and even the individuals and people behind it. The loyal customers are going to also be your biggest advocates and an integral part in marketing. This group of individuals is posting positive reviews, sharing your products on social media, and telling their network as well.

Creating Memorable Experiences
What is it about your favorite products or brands that keep you coming back? In a recent study by PWC, “73% of all people point to customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions.” Speed, quality, consistency, and outgoing employees all keep customers coming back.

There’s a local supermarket called Sprouts. The employees are upbeat and friendly. The products are the freshest and most sustainable and the prices are reasonable every time.
Apple users flock in droves for the latest iPhones, iPads, and computers. Why? Because there is an expectation of the latest technological must-haves, dedicated staff on site, and unparalleled customer support.

Every time you go to your local coffee shop and they greet with you a smile and by name before presenting you your favorite latte. These moments create memorable experiences, everlasting impressions, and keep you wanting to come back and continue to do business with these establishments.

Building Relationships and Social Media Engagement
Building relationships with your customers is the factor that separates great merchants from good merchants. Get to know them beyond their storefront or business. Communication is key in building that loyalty and trust. Customers want to spend their hard earned money with people and businesses who share their same visions and are owned by like-minded individuals.

Social media is the perfect outlet to give them an insight into the latest products or company news. Make them feel a part of the process, the journey, the business. Ask their feedback and have an open dialogue. In this day and age, when it’s easy to get a bad review or a bad comment, keep the focus on the positives. Interact with your most frequent customers, and offer discounts and special offers to those that are following your various platforms.

Email marketing is another tool to let your customers know just how valuable they are. Create a newsletter or mailing list and encourage them to sign up through your website or in-store. Not only do they feel a connection by doing so, it also gives you the merchant insight to your customer base, who is interested in learning more, and what they love the most.

Whether it’s via social media or email marketing, it is important to let your customers know just how valuable they are.

Reward Loyalty
Loyal customers are hard to come by. They reward you by doing business with you time and time again and adding to your bottom line. Reciprocate the feeling by rewarding them with incentives such as gift cards and contests to give them a little extra motivation to drive future business.

According to LoyaltyOne, “76% of customers felt that receiving personalized discount offers based on their purchase history was important.” Many merchants do this by asking for birthdays, anniversaries or other special occasions when you sign up for their newsletter or email list. Remembering those special dates keeps your business at the top of their list.

Other businesses have multiple reward systems, including tiered rewards, where the more you spend, the higher your status, the more special offers you receive. Some companies give future discounts or money for referring friends to sign up, or promoting the business through social media. Yogurt shops, coffee shops, restaurants and others in the hospitality industry still offer punch cards which offer free products after accruing a certain number of visits.

The minute a customer has a bad experience, your business relationship is tarnished. Avoid that sour taste and keep them happy. According to Accenture, “If a consumer is loyal to your business, he or she will spend an average of 66% more than customers who aren’t loyal.”

Whether it is creating memorable experiences, adding a personal touch, or offering a loyalty based program, your most valuable customer is a loyal one.