It is no secret that Loyalzoo – our loyalty app for local shops – came about as a result of our own interests. We enjoy to shop local in our neighbourhood, and want to help these shops grow and compete against the big brands. The papers are always reporting that local businesses are closing, so shopping in them is vital to keep them, and our neighbourhoods, alive.

So what’s the problem with big brands? Well – nothing, really. Many of them offer a good range of decent quality products, their opening hours are convenient and there is usually parking on the premises. Many offer wifi in store, low prices and central locations.

So far so good. But one thing they lack is excitement and interest in themselves and their products. You will never get an employee in a global chain enthusiastically talking about where their latest product came from and why they decided to stock it. Or talk about how their latest flavour came about – as a result of their best friends’ idea and their uncle’s abundant apple-tree.

Local shops have their limitations, sure. Their opening hours aren’t always as long as we would have liked them to be, the parking may be limited. But the variety of products and the stories behind them makes it a far more interesting place than any chain shop will ever be. You can tell by talking to the staff and the atmosphere inside. If it’s a cafe – is it an in-out feel, or are people sitting down with a friend or two, chatting away and enjoying themselves? If it’s a food shop or bakery, are the people in the queue mostly huffing and puffing in stress, or are they waiting patiently? Maybe we are just very lucky – but our experience in local shops is predominantly a much more relaxed matter than that in the big shops.

We still use the big brands, of course we do. Sometimes the convenience is unbeatable. But every time, whilst we queue up in another seething line full of people cursing and oozing passive aggressiveness because it is rush hour and they are all hangry and angry at the cashier not working fast enough, we think we could have – should have – gone to the  local instead. It would have been more expensive, taken longer and finding parking would have been a pain – but being in the shop would have made us relax and lower our shoulders.

Not every local shop is like this – but many are. And none of the big ones are. So we shop local when we can and we urge you to do the same.

Digital is here to stay in most aspects of our lives and it does make things easier. Here are 8 reasons why you should consider making your loyalty program digital – and 2 points to consider before taking the plunge.

  • Customers have enough clutter in their wallets already. Another paper loyalty card is unlikely to be welcome – and even if they accept it they are frightfully easy to displace and forget about.
  • Every morning is a struggle trying to remember all the essential things you need in order to get through the door. Another piece of paper currently not in your wallet? Forget about it. However incredible your rewards are, chances that your paper or plastic loyalty card being amongst the early morning priorities are slim.
  • With paper loyalty cards, you have no way of communication with your customers. You give them a card, and off they go. They may never return again! With your loyalty card in an app, you have a direct method of communication with the customer. Send a push notification to your customers and invite them back!
  • Variety is key to keeping your customers engaged. With digital loyalty you can change your rewards as you go – depending on seasonality or stock levels.
  • A typical smartphone user looks at their phone approximately 1300 times per week. Wouldn’t it be great if your brand was visible there? It is free exposure which keeps your brand in your customers’ minds.
  • It is faster and easier than stamping a card – and with digital stamps there is no risk of fraud. If you make a mistake it can always be corrected and with full access to analytics you are always in control.
  • A digital loyalty card isn’t as expensive or complicated as you think. It works regardless of your store setup, and can run on your existing POS, tablet or even just a phone.
  • You get to learn your customers’ names and access to customer behaviour data – allowing you to see who your best customers are. This is great for making their experience more personal – key to improving their loyalty.
  • Digital undoubtedly has many advantages, but it requires some work to get off the ground. Getting customers to download an app will always be the key. Offer them an incentive to download it then and there is you can – a free hot drink, a cash discount or something else that is of value to the customer. As soon as they have downloaded the app, they’re yours.
  • Your customers may not be very comfortable with digital, perhaps they are old or belong to another tech-nervous demography. If they do, you can run your loyalty program digitally but without customers’ active involvement or just stick to old fashioned paper cards. As cool as staying on trend is, it is no good if your customers’ aren’t happy.

To find out more about Loyalzoo’s loyalty app click here. If you have any questions pop them in the comments or contact us.

Groupon is tempting to many because of the potential of bringing in thousands of new customers. Instead of jumping into it, hoping for the best, here are 6 things to ask yourself before you go ahead to help you prepare for the cost and the benefits.  Read more

Loyal customers are wonderful. They provide a friendly face, are less sensitive to price and are likely to recommend you to others. Sounds great doesn’t it? So how do you earn a customer’s loyalty? Because that’s what it’s all about – earning it. Consumers have a billion choices for every purchase they make, you have to give a reason for them to choose you, every time.

Customer loyalty has changed over the years. Before the internet, most people were unaware of all their choices and ended up choosing a shop or a brand purely based on convenience. Convenience and location still matter greatly, but people have access to information online that enables them to research their options before deciding.

True customer loyalty is hard to define – but loosely it means customers who come back regularly over a period of time, who like and perhaps identify with your shop/products, recommend you and typically have more patience than walk-ins or bargain-hunters.

Earn Your Customers Loyalty

  1. But first, you have to attract them. This means visibility, online and any premises your business occupies (if applicable). A website, a social media page and some good online reviews carry a lot of weight these days, as consumers tend to research before they buy and try new products or brands. You don’t need all of these, but at least one is recommended. Physical visibility and presentation also matters – make sure your shop looks tidy and inviting.
  2. Then you have to make them buy. This means easy navigation and helpful staff. It doesn’t matter if it is on or offline. Make sure your products are easy to navigate, easy to learn about – and that you have someone to answer any and all questions. Online chats are popular, but email and a phone number are both good – in fact have all three if you can. Customers have different preferences in how they want to contact you – your job is to make it as easy as possible to let them do so on their terms. In store, make sure staff are knowledgable about what they sell. Greet every customer, and offer help and assistance straight away.
  3. Finally – make the customer want to come back. With good products that are easy to both locate and learn about; smiley, helpful and attentive staff, you have laid the groundwork which opens up for customer loyalty. For the last nudge, offer them some proof that you really value their custom. The very basic is to thank them – you can also include them in a customer club or a loyalty program. Rewards needn’t be big – but a free coffee after 6, a £5 discount after having spent £50 and so on are really powerful ways to entice your customers to stay with you.

Consistency is key – you can’t buy your customers loyalty, but you can encourage it.

Thinking about investing in a custom branded app for your business? Read this first.

Brands and businesses are releasing their own apps every second of every day. But there is little proof that it makes an enormous difference in increasing customers’ loyalty. New stats from TNS and Ampersand Mobile, suggest that users in fact see these apps as just more advertising – a one-way street of marketing designed to make them spend more.  Read more