The big brands have deep pockets and domineering presence, and pair this with free parking and low prices it is hardly surprising that customer choose them.

But for the very reasons that make the big shops attractive, they also make themselves vulnerable to shopper-savviness. The big brands are clones of each other, meaning shoppers have little reason to choose one over the other. Brand loyalty at this scale is rare and this is why the big brands are constantly working to drive their shoppers back to them. Here is a quick look at some of the strategies employed:

Free parking – Hardly a groundbreaking strategy, but nevertheless important. The point is to make the choice as easy and effortless as possible for the customer. Looking for parking and paying for it adds friction.

Brand comparison – Price wars are raging and supermarkets spend almost as much time talking about their competitors as themselves, in a bid to show the customer that they are cheaper than so and so. Some will even print their competitor’s name on the receipt!

Time-limited discounts – Some of the big supermarkets will give you a voucher along with your receipt, often with a neat little saving on your next shop. But have you ever looked at this in detail? Notice the expiry date. This has not been chosen at random, but is carefully calculated by marketeers and analysts, and is usually set to just before a customer would ‘naturally’ do their next shop. The purpose is, of course, to drive the shopper back in sooner – increasing the frequency of their visits and therefore increasing their spend.

Complex loyalty cards – The big brands all have some sort of loyalty program where customers earn points for their spend. But have you noticed the rewards? A store voucher or discount, which is what you might expect, is sidelined by rewards at other, non-competitive businesses such as restaurant vouchers, cinema tickets and online shopping vouchers. All very tempting to consumers – who feel like they are getting a special treat just for doing their everyday shopping.

Together these strategies all work towards one goal; make the customer come back more often and spending more, each time. But you don’t have to be a big brand with deep pockets to take advantage. If you can’t offer free parking, can you be flexible with your opening hours? Be the easier option for customers. Once a customer has chosen you once, you have the opportunity to turn them into regulars by offering a competitive, enjoyable experience in store.

The big news in retail technology this week was the launch of Harvey Nichols loyalty app.

It has been written about almost every day – and the comments have been many, mostly about the rewards which according to the Evening Standard include botox when the customer has spent a sweet £8900. Loyalty cards are old news – what makes this so interesting is that Harvey Nichols have chosen to exclude physical cards altogether  Read more

Frictionless experience for customers and staff

Customer selected Loyalzoo on POS

– Loyalzoo today announced the commercial release of its new POS integration following a successful pilot scheme at the London School of Economics. The company’s new offering means that merchants can capture data in real time from Windows-based service tills and can use this to award loyalty points. They are able to run their own mobile-based loyalty program with zero impact on till operations.

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Between us, the team here at Loyalzoo has decades of experience working in retail; we have had our fair share of dealing with irritating, funny, weird, happy, patient, impatient, grumpy or simply wonderful customers. I, Sol that is, recently overheard the shop assistant in the local supermarket; ‘Customers are a strange breed..’ and as funny as the statement is, it is also 100% true. Here is an unofficial list of 9 things customers tend to do, which the staff may not find so amusing – based on our own experiences.

  1. Customers not acknowledging the staff when they walk in. You’ll be greeting them, all smiles and cheerfulness, and in return you get evasive glances and firmly pursed lips. Frankly – this is just rude! (It is equally bad the other way around, mind you, so shop assistants take note)
  2. Moving things around. So often, customers pick up items, carry them around, nursing them like they were newborn puppies, only to put them down at a random place before exiting the shop. Indecisive ourselves – we get it. But please put it back where you found it. Juices in the bookshelf, books in the fridge, mugs in the crisp shelves, lacey pants amongst the mens underwear – between us we have seen it all.
  3. Answering the phone whilst you’re standing at the till to pay. It is rude, not only to the person at the till, but also to the people queuing behind you as you invariably slow down the process. Either wait until the transaction is finished, or let someone else in front if you have to answer.
  4. Not listening out for your order in a coffee shop. You would be amazed at the lack of brainpower present in the pick-up spot in your average coffee shop. Calling out ‘Double Latte’ three times before a confused looking gentleman grabs it and walks out, only to come back in raging, ‘but I ordered a hot chocolate!’. Just. Listen. Please.
  5. Making a mess with sugar, salt, pepper.. The condiment bar is sweet enough, put your sugar in your drink. And use the bins provided – they’re there for a reason.
  6. Tearing up napkins/receipts/stirring sticks/lids – just leave them be. Disclaimer – I too, admit to being culpable of this when visiting my mum. But boy is it annoying when you’re the person who has to tidy up. Those little bits go Everywhere!
  7. Sneaking past you to use the toilet. Newsflash, toilet-sneakers, the vast majority of staff are nice people – if you ask nicely of course they’ll let you use the toilet. If you sneak in trying not to attract attention, you’ll get little more than poorly concealed nasty looks.
  8. Thoughtless buggy brigades – most of us like children and babies. They are cute and entertaining, but mums and dads – listen up. Control your buggies! Back in the day when I worked in a café, I’d regularly have customers walking into the café, promptly parking the buggy in the most inconvenient place ever; ie where it blocks every other customer. Ask the staff if they can help you find a place for it, they will know the best place.
  9. Crazy kids – the aforementioned warmth towards children and babies is quickly withdrawn when those chubby little fingers are prodding the sandwiches on display, or smeering babyccinos across the seats and the floor. Keep in mind that you can’t just take time off parenting when you’re in a café – the romantic idea of spending your days in cafés with a good book or a friend when you have the kids? Forget it. They need supervision.