Customer loyalty has always been a major consideration for retailers and finding the right way to engage consumers and encourage them to keep coming back constantly evolves as shoppers have shown that they are willing to flow between brands and retailers to get what they need. This became even more apparent as retailers had to adapt to deliver new shopping experiences in 2020. Burgeoning technology innovations and non-traditional digital shopping methods that had previously been popular among smaller groups quickly became more mainstream. Especially during this time, consumers changed how they preferred to shop and many of those preferences are expected to remain as they have seen how it can make their experiences easier. Now, to succeed in a post-COVID world, retailers need to understand how to keep customers coming back again and again.
Here’s what we’re watching for in 2021:
1. Increased use of alternatives to traditional, cashier-led checkout
In the last year, consumers made a substantial shift towards digital shopping. Over the next two years, contactless payments are expected to grow by 190% and 52% of retailers currently use or plan to implement consumer mobile checkout. In our April 2021 survey, we found that retailers in 2020 saw:
- • 16.9% increase in curbside
- • 6.3% increase in BOPIS
- • 25.6% increase in buy online with home delivery
- • 52% of customers who currently or plan to use consumer mobile checkout
Retailers adjusted to accommodate these shopper behaviors and will now have to consider what their needs will be and what steps they may need to take if new approaches to digital promotions in order to expand their consumer reach for these new shopping methods. With the significant increase of availability of these methods becoming common across brands, stores will have to find the right incentives delivered in personalized ways to overcome competitors and win back customers.
2. In-store shopping is expected to rebound
From store-level fulfillment to curbside delivery, and from traditional checkout to buy online, pick up in-store, brick-and-mortar stores have still been critical for retailers over the last year. Alternative shopping methods may have gained popularity, but in-store shopping isn’t going anywhere. As shoppers begin to feel comfortable returning to physical stores, retailers will see an increase in traffic and longer times shoppers spend there; in-store sales are expected to increase by 7% in 2021. Physical locations are still a very valuable part of the customers’ retail experiences so stores will need to figure out how to deliver relevant, customized in-store and cross-channel promotions that will encourage shoppers to come back to their stores and build loyalty with rewards programs and benefits that will turn them into repeat customers.
To succeed through 2021, retailers must embrace and prioritize new experiences and technologies that will keep current customers, turn occasional shoppers into loyal ones, and consider moving to a microservices platform that enables the quick and easy creation of relevant, personalized promotions. 39% of companies we surveyed said they use or plan to adopt new and emerging technologies like microservices architectures to capture important data about their customers (which can be used for more tailored promotions programs), and 41% of food, drug, and mass merchants said they intend to adopt technology that will directly boost customer loyalty.
Toshiba’s ELERA Promotions is a user-friendly solution that helps retailers deploy a wide variety of promotions for a cohesive customer experience. A key microservice within the ELERA Commerce platform, ELERA Promotions enables retailers to easily create, deliver, validate, award, print, and log promotions to create a more engaging and valuable experience for every shopper.