Annex Cloud provides customer marketing solutions designed to help clients improve customer loyalty, referral marketing, and user generated content marketing. Its platform is intended to build customer connections and grow customer bases through social media and email channels. It also helps build brand confidence through ratings and reviews and uses customer product pictures as a visual commerce strategy. The platform provides gamification and omnichannel engagement as well.
 
Recently, Loyalty360 discussed customer loyalty and technology with Al Lalani, Chief Strategist for Annex Cloud.
 
How has consumer behavior changed in recent years?

Consumers have become highly enabled to find as much brand and product information as possible. They used to depend on brand advertising for this, but now they’ve transitioned to relying on their peers for this information. This change has affected how much the brand directly deals with customers, leading to a decrease in brand trust among consumers.
 
What are brands doing to combat this issue?
 
A key combatant to the problem of wary consumers is the use of special benefits programs. Amazon Prime popularized this tactic and now consumers everywhere want to see those convenient benefits from other retailers. Similar companies like Walmart.com and Target are beginning to offer similar benefits. However, this presents a problem to smaller retailers as they don’t always have the funding and infrastructure to implement similar plans.
 
What can smaller retailers do to take on Amazon?
 
Smaller brands are now doing everything in their power to establish personal relationships with their customers, especially with the use of third-party sellers like Amazon, Overstock, and Walmart.com. With the advent of data receipt aggregation, brands are able to track when and where a purchase has occurred and how much that purchase cost.
 
What new tech is making an impact on loyalty programs?
 
There are two trends to really pay attention to when it comes to customer loyalty. The first is mobile pay. Though adoption is still low, mobile wallet is expected to grow exponentially over the next several years. In fact, nearly 2.1 billion consumers worldwide will use a mobile wallet to make a payment or send money in 2019.
 
The other is blockchain technology. Many retailers are experimenting with loyalty programs where consumers can do peer-to-peer exchanges on the blockchain for various cryptocurrencies, cash, gift cards, and other participating retail points.
 
What recommendations do you have for brands trying to build loyalty with their customers?
 
As I mentioned before, customers are highly enabled to find helpful information about your brand. And because peer reviews and other UGC are the most trusted form to consumers, that means you need to incentivize your current customers for doing things like reviewing products. Those social actions will not only help you receive at least 50 percent more reviews, you’ll also see higher ratings for doing so. Whether it’s Q&A or posting user photos, it’s important to encourage UGC as a retailer as it’s a great driver of customer loyalty.
 
 

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