Loyalty card examplesYou’re a customer that does all your food shopping at your favourite grocery or deli store.

When you get there, you see the normal weekly flyer that has the current offers. Some you might be interested; others, not so much. So you flick through the flyer, then leave it at the bottom of the shopping cart.

You wander around the store, grab the things you need, then go to pay at the checkout. You might have a loyalty card for that store, so you swipe it and grab your points, and leave.

Job done for another week or so (more, if you do a large monthly shop instead). Then you’ll repeat the routine in a month’s time, and then the following month, etc.

But it could be so much more.

The Relationship to the Sale

According to a new report from eMarketer, consumers aren’t just looking for the latest and greatest offers. Sure, price plays a part in any sales process, but that’s just part of the story.

The biggest part? We want to be educated as well, as this chart from the eMarketer report shows.

eMarketer consumer and mobile retailing report

What’s interesting from this chart isn’t the fact that consumers want to know how your prices compare – that’s a given. Nor is it getting or redeeming coupons – again, that’s almost a given with any retailer.

It’s the remaining pieces of information – the parts about getting nutritional information, reading product reviews and visiting the company’s site for information.

Oh yeah – and the part that this is all via smartphones while the consumer is shopping.

So, looking at the report a bit further, it’s essentially saying we, as customers, are on our smartphones while shopping to not only see if there are any online discounts available, but to see if we can find more information about what we’re about to buy.

Now how could you, as a retailer, use that information? Because it’s clear our normal shopping methods are changing, and you need to change with that. So where do you start?

Loyalty on the Go

If you’re a retailer, there’s a good chance you already have a loyalty program in place to reward frequent shoppers (I’m looking at this from a medium-to-large retailer point of view; although smaller retailers could benefit as well from a low cost loyalty program).

But how well are you using that with mobile marketing? Are you using it at all?

In Canada, for example, loyalty programs are hugely popular, with almost 94% of consumers belonging to at least one loyalty program. If you’re a Canadian retailer (or have a presence there) that equates to almost 15 million consumers to target (working on the assumption half the population are minors or children).

We know that population is increasingly smartphone savvy – as this 2009 Nielsen report shows, Canada accounts for 12% of the smartphone market (which is probably more now that the iPhone and Android are available in Canada). This equates to about 4.8 million Canadian consumers on smartphones.

Smartphone penetration worldwide

So let’s think about that a second. Loyalty is huge in Canada; more Canadians are using smartphones – so the obvious next step is to combine the two with your marketing (and this can be across markets – I just used Canada as an example as that’s where I live).

  • Tie in your loyalty card to a mobile app. When consumers sign up for your card, advise them of your mobile app. When they download, they enter their loyalty card number and that ties their accounts together.
  • Monitor the usage of the app. Is it for coupons? In-store specials? Research? Build a database of your consumers’ use of your app, and build loyalty offers into that. Offer small tips on nutrition, product energy usage, etc, depending on the products you sell. Give shoppers a reason to stay in your store.
  • Make it easy to shop with you. Best Buy and Future Shop currently have an app that offers a ton of features to make the consumer’s experience more enjoyable. Browsing and buying options, easy check-out, barcode and billing options are just some of its features. Tie that into the Best Buy / Future Shop card, that rewards your app use with physical points, and you can see the benefits immediately. (At Bonsai Interactive, we’re currently building a bunch of apps that take this to the next level for multiple retailer industries).
  • Have price comparisons at the ready. Saying you offer the best value is one thing; showing it is another. Have mini-chart comparisons on prices for you and your competitors – that keeps consumers off your competitors’ mobile sites and interacting on yours.
  • Pro-active use of loyalty points. Because your mobile app is tied into your loyalty card, you can instantly advise consumers of when they’ve reached a certain plateau. The app recognizes how many points has been accrued and lets the consumer know via an alert. They can then buy direct from the phone with smart, targeted and mobile-friendly ads and purchases (which then gets added to the loyalty card).

And on it goes – these are just some ways you could combine your offline loyalty card with your online mobile marketing. And we haven’t even discussed where social media or location-based marketing comes into the mix – combine that with existing marketing and mobile promotions, and the sky really is the limit.

We’ve all heard the line, “Social media is changing the way we do business”. But perhaps the real line should be, “Mobile and loyalty is changing the way consumers need us to do business.”

So how far along the line are you at making your mobile customers loyal?

Image: LearnVest

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