The customer loyalty and engagement space has clearly been evolving, and brands should understand the changing behavior of their customers to remain relevant and competitive. Customers are now looking for convenient, easy interactions, regardless of the brand from whom they’re purchasing. They want brands to deliver the very best products possible, and they want companies to play by the rules when it comes to their data. Recently, Loyalty360 spoke with Jonathan Dyke, COO at Spring Marketplace (Spring), to discuss these very issues.
 
Spring solves two core problems brands face today. Do my customers shop with me when they are near my store (like in a shopping mall)? And, how can I communicate with them directly when they are near my store? Answering these questions (as Spring does) ultimately provides brands with unique customer insights and incremental revenue lift.
 
Spring’s platform extends brand’s existing CRM efforts by providing a full, 360-degree view of customer purchase behavior across online and offline channels while providing contextual views of total customer spend at the brand category level. Brands use Spring to acquire and engage customers on their terms, setting specific ROI targets for customer segments like new, lapsed, or VIPs.
 
For example, you can send an email and SMS message to your customers that are frequent online shoppers but rarely visit a store with an incentive to visit your store. Spring tracks the spend behavior so you can see when that customer transacts at your store, where else they spend at the category level, and when they come back to you, either online or in-store. These are simple yet powerful engagement and re-engagement programs for brands.
 
How has customer loyalty changed over the last few years?
 
We’ve seen a dramatic shift in how customers and retailers look at loyalty. Smart retailers know that you constantly have to iterate and learn more about your shopper’s behavior whether that may be shopping online or in-store. Customers may be loyal to brands within certain categories but open to new brands in other categories based on the experience or better prices offered to them. Shoppers are looking at how easy it is to interact with brands from a lifestyle perspective as people are juggling many things daily—buy online pick up, free returns, free shipping, accessibility to real person, and inventory availability. 
 
What is “next big thing” for customer loyalty?
 
Clearly omnichannel is and should be a major focus for all retailers. The ability to provide seamless and consistent experiences across both channels is important to maximize revenue from each customer. We routinely see that customers of a specific brand are spending online but not visiting the offline store. When offered an incentive, we see that almost 10 percent of those customers visit the store and spend well above average ticket, making them three-and-a-half times more valuable to the brand when they shop both channels. Because the experience is real-time and super easy, brands see higher levels of engagement downstream after that initial conversion. Likewise, if you have an in-store only customer, it is beneficial to convert them online with an incentive post in-store purchase.  It’s a “do both” scenario producing incremental revenue lift. 
 
How sophisticated are most brands’ customer experience and customer loyalty initiatives?
 
There are absolutely forward-thinking brands pioneering this space, typically those that originated in the e-commerce space and are now a crossover brand. Those who put experience over selling their product will be rewarded. It’ll be important for retailers to put a large emphasis on making digital a core part of the store experience ​and empower staff to engage to deliver a seamless journey for the shopper. For example, using shopper behavior data to create a humanizing experience that shows your brand’s personality from online to in-store. We work with brands to acknowledge when their own customers are near their store (like in a mall) with a simple text inviting them in for a visit. These personalized touches convert to revenue at a high rate while delighting the customer.
 
Should all brands strive to have the brand recognition of Apple or Amazon? Why or why not? 
 
That is a tall order, taking billions of dollars and many years. If it aligns with your brand’s values and audience, then absolutely aspire to be as successful of a brand as Amazon or Apple but perhaps focus on what’s best for you. Determine your mission and strive to deliver the best product and experience at all touchpoints of your customer’s journey—then the rest should take care of itself. 
 
What strategies should brands adopt in relation to stricter data regulations?
 
Understand the rules and play by the rules; put yourself in the shoes of your customers and think through how you would want your data to be treated as an input to the customer experience.
 
What does the phrase “customer journey” mean to you?
 
The full, from end-to-end experience a customer has when interacting with a brand. It’s every touchpoint. Companies must walk in the customer’s shoes to deliver a seamless journey that makes the customer want to come back. The way the brand “flirts” to engage a shopper to how the brand follows up after the shopper makes a purchase. We work with brands to collect instant feedback after a purchase experience so they can understand NPS across various segments and because the feedback is tied to a profile, they can act on the information to solve a problem or delight a VIP.
 
What is the future of customer loyalty?
 
Loyalty has been part of the retail strategy for decades. The future of loyalty begins with brands wanting to win the love of its customers and continually do so in innovative ways. Fostering their communities; developing marketing programs that feel more like the shopper is joining a community or becoming a member. There’s no room for plastic cards or in-depth forms to fill out but more so consists of multiple easy points of entry to programs such as wi-fi connectivity or a simple checkbox at checkout. Brands need to streamline their experience across channels, so the customer has a positive interaction regardless if online or instore. Smart, targeted and timely communications that present value (information and economic) to your customer should be a priority. Is an email a day or an email a week really working for you? ​The future is full of inclusivity, and brands that put the customer experience first over solely trying to grow its list will be better off. 
 
Conclusion
 
Our discussion with Jonathan Dyke offers some important takeaways for brands that operate online and physical stores. Brands should be aware that customers want more convenient experiences and easier interactions regardless of channel. They should also curate a positive journey for the customer from beginning to end. We expect that brands that lean into these strategies will have a greater chance at success while increasing revenue.
 

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