Today’s consumers are spoilt for choice, with an endless number of brands to choose from, most of them offering discounts to lure in new shoppers. And therein lies the tyranny of choice: when we have so many options, staying loyal to a mere handful of brands seems impossible, especially when social media – and the digitisation of the fashion industry in general – means that new brands can be conceived overnight.
For companies hoping to establish a dedicated customer base, it may be time to consider what loyalty means now, in the age of the ‘always-on’ consumer. Here, we take a look at how brands are redefining their approaches to customer loyalty, encouraging conversation and looking to rich, relevant experiences to drive repeat sales.
Conversational Commerce: Involving Customers in the Design Process
Threadless, a website which gives artists the opportunity to have their designs printed onto t-shirts and other apparel. Threadless users are able to vote for their favourite designs, which, if approved by the majority, can then be used on clothing. As it launched in 2000, Threadless serves as one of the earliest examples of design crowdsourcing, and similar models have gone on to be adopted by other brands. Also of note is Everlane, which has invited its customers to give their input on everything from the fit of its shirts to whether or not the brand should expand into Canada. It makes sense from a loyalty perspective; what better way to guarantee customer satisfaction (and, in turn, repeat purchases) than to produce designs that customers have actually asked for?
Last month, activewear brand Catalyst launched a new concept, Open Studio, which blends the standard crowdsourcing practice of asking customers what they’d like to see with the simplicity of platforms like Tinder; those visiting Open Studio can quickly approve/disapprove a design, realized in 3D, before moving on to the next one.
Utilising Staff Knowledge to Boost Customer Loyalty
Others have decided that the best way to keep customers coming back is to offer high-quality product and unflappable customer service. Take sneaker-cleaning specialist Jason Markk, for example, which has generated a loyal following of fans thanks to its meticulous approach to caring for its client’s footwear. As well as offering a range of cleaning products on its online shop, the brand truly comes into its own in-store. Its flagship store employs a range of Sneaker Care Technicians (SCTs), who know sneaker-care inside-out and are able to quickly make customer’s shoes look box-fresh. The store offers a range of cleaning services, from the ‘Classic Clean’ to the more pricey ‘Purple Label Detail.’ In essence, there is something to suit every sneakerheads need and budget – and something to keep customers returning. VIP customers are able to have their sneakers picked up directly from their homes. Such expertised levels of customer service are invaluable in a retail climate where customers crave genuine, interactive experiences with brands.
Rethinking Loyalty Programs with E-Commerce and Wearables
Loyalty cards have been around forever, to the point that many of us still have wallets bursting at the seams with them, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that loyalty schemes are totally passé; they just need revitalising. Forward-thinking retailers are now fostering customer loyalty by making their clients feel valued with achievable rewards (gone are the days where you’d have to save up your loyalty points for years until you saw any decent compensation) and regular perks.
ASOS’ loyalty program, ASOS A-List, gives shoppers £5 back for every £100 spent. In addition to this, customers can spend their way to different ‘levels’ in the loyalty programme – Level 3 members, the most rewarded, enjoy the likes of early sale access, four ‘triple points’ days and a 20% birthday discount. ASOS also offers a Premier delivery subscription, which gives members unlimited next-day delivery. Those who pay £9.95 a year for this service are more likely to stay loyal to ASOS, particularly for last-minute purchases, in the knowledge that they will always receive their orders the next day. Fellow e-commerce player Missguided has recently rolled out its ‘Unicorn Class’ delivery service, which offers year-long, free next-day delivery to its loyal customers.
And then there’s Rebecca Minkoff, which is using wearable tech as an access point to its loyalty program. The brand announced that, as of summer 2017, all of its handbags would be ‘smart bags,’ fitted with QR codes which take the concept of loyalty programs to a new level. If a smartbag is taken into one of Minkoff’s stores, it can be used in conjunction with the stores’ other hardware to offer a more personalised in-store experience. If taken elsewhere, it can be used to gain exclusive discounts, and other perks, at Minkoff-approved partner locations. It’s clever marketing, as customers might be encouraged to choose one of Minkoff’s bags in order to gain more access to the perks that come with them, thus giving the brand more exposure. Each smart bag purchase automatically qualifies the buyer a place on Minkoff’s loyalty scheme, giving them access to private events and styling sessions, as well as an invitation to the next Minkoff fashion show.
Image Source: Marketing Week/ASOS