Barking Up the Loyalty Tree

THE IMPORTANCE OF CUSTOMER RETENTION FOR PET STORE RETAILERS

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Source: Expat Guide

Pets have always been a large part of people’s lives, so much so, that they have carved out a whole industry dedicated to their needs and care, and it’s not small! IbisWorld reports that the American pet industry is estimated to generate roughly $63 billion dollars in 2016. The humanization of pets in recent years has transformed them to become a significant part of many families, and people are quickly dropping the name pet owner, to take on the more affectionate title of pet parent.

 

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Data Source: American Pet Product Association

 

Today, the life of pets looks different than it did ten years ago, and one of the agents of change is social media. A study notes that 65% of pet parents post about their companions on social media twice a week, and one in six pet parents have created social media accounts for their pets. The impact social media makes on the industry is something you must be able to take advantage of, allowing your business to grow its customer-base. With more of our furry friends being posted on social media, owners are looking to show off their pets to their friends online. Your pet shop can capitalize on this growing trend, and supply its customers with products that cater to the modern needs of pets and their parents.

The Hairballs of Pet Stores

For your small pet shop, taking on the modern pet industry is a tough task. With the number of competitors in the market, it can be hard to differentiate your business from others; because not only do you compete with other small businesses, you also must compete with the supermarkets and mass-merchandisers that sell products for pets. It becomes a challenge for the smallerplayers to make a name for themselves, to retain their existing customers and to attract new ones.

 

Getting Heard In The Herd

One of the greatest problems your pet shop will face is making a name for itself in the local petcommunity. The care of a pet is a very social process, and many pet parents in a surrounding area will converse about their routines, and their go-to places for their pets. And with the digital presence of pets on the rise, owners can now go online and read other pet parents blogs, creating an even larger network. Because of this tight-knit community, in an industry with so much competition, referral marketing is a vital part of the pet shop industry, and is one of the best ways to attract new customers. Word travels fast, and if your pet shop can establish a positive rapport with your customers, you can form a relationship that will be beneficial for all parties involved.

 

Ineffective Communication Methods

While referrals may have the power to generate a lot of new business, retaining your existing customers is just as important. In order to have your customers return to your store, you'll need to stand out and promote relevant products to the right target consumer group. Traditional marketing methods, like printed flyers, are not always targeted to the right audience, and they can be expensive and inefficient with no guaranteed results.Therefore, segmenting your consumers into different groups could make the difference between those who come back to your store and those who don't. For instance, as a pet store owner, most of your revenue is likely accounted for by dog or cat products, as they make up 75% of the total amount of pets in the U.S. That means, however, that those who own fish (10% of total) will have no interest in promotions if they’re catered to products not made for their Betta or Goldfish.

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Data Source: Insurance Information Institute

 

Consumer Relationships Don’t Just Happen

Pet stores present a unique retail situation, as you have to cater to not just one customer, but two!While it may be the pet parent who has the purchasing power, it’s the pet at the end of the day who is eating the food or wearing the accessory. And this is where the rapport your business builds with its customers comes into play; because it is only once you have established a relationship with your customers that you can begin to figure out what they are looking for. After a few visits to your shop, you’ll begin to get a sense of some of your customers and their pets, and you’ll be able to connect with them every time they come in. The conversations that comes from these store visits will be the foundation of your relationship, and it is from this point that you can begin to gain their trust and loyalty.

The potential of the local and online pet communities is extremely viable, but the question is, what effective tools are at your disposal to get their business?

Groom Your Pet Store

While the pet industry may be crowded, with the right strategies and insight, there are ways to enhance your customers’ experiences at your pet shop. Upgrading your store to Loyalty 3.0 will allow your business to utilize a number of different customer retention and marketing techniques to connect to your customers with. Here are some tricks that you can easily implement to elevate your pet store with customer loyalty:

Promote Consumer-Generated Content

Help your existing consumers create content for their social media pages to promote your store.

As noted above, the pet community goes to social media to look at cute and funny animals, and there is definitely room for your business to get in on the fun. Having customers take pictures of their pets in your store and posting it on social media is a great way to increase brand exposure, as it allows you to reach all of your customer’s friends. To incentivize your customers to share pictures, you can offer them a 10% discount on future purchases, or any other incentive you prefer. A study found that 81% of consumers’ purchases are influenced by what their friends share on social media, so uploading pet selfies in your store will open up the potential to a wide network of untapped pet parents who will want to know where their friends shop.

 

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Source: Getty

 

Target The Right Audience

Market the right content to the right audience.

The relationship you build with your customers is extremely important, so knowing both the petand pet-parent is a part of being a good pet shop owner. Part of this responsibility is knowing what your customers’ purchasing trends are, and informing them when the products they are interested in are on sale. For example, let all cat owners know when there is a sale on cat food, and avoid sending them promotions on dog leashes which will simply be spam from their point of view. Categorizing your customers based off of the pets that they own is one type of grouping method that gives you a way to contact them with tailored content, and is a point of differentiation that can go a long way. This can be complicated to achieve, but by using the right tools, you can facilitate the process. So Instead of using traditional marketing methods like flyers, your business should opt for a more direct and convenient way of communicating with your customers.

 

Let The Machine Do The Work

Use automation to engage your customers on a timely basis.

Another way for your small pet store to compete with the big retailers is to get to customers before they do. By implementing a loyalty system that incorporates customer engagement tools, you can schedule the system to send messages to your customers at a specific time, and even create automated marketing campaigns that will run on their own. This is a great way to make sure your customers receive up-to-date information from your business that is timely and relevant to them. For example, sending your customers a promotional message a week after their first visit shows them that you care about them, and gives them a reason to come back to your store. You can also schedule an automated message to be sent to your customers on their birthdays (or their pets’ birthday), with a personal discount just for them. With a system, such as TapMango’s, scheduling promotions in advance allows your business to plan ahead to create automated customer-tailored strategies for your store.

 

Gamify Customer’s Experience

Offer a fun contest to your customers, and they’ll continue coming back.

Great experience always translates into higher frequency of visits.  Businesses that offer sweepstakes or skills-based contests can easily increase their traffic in no time.  And, the simpler the contest the more attractive it becomes to your customers. Whatmore, surrounding customers observe your loyal customers playing and winning prizes and are quickly incentivized to join your loyalty program.

Managing these contests doesn’t have to be a burden.  Within minutes, TapMango can be set up with multiple prizes and odds and have your customers fully engaged and entertained in your store on every check-in.

 

Harvest The Power Of Re-fur-als 

Offer your loyal customers points or a complimentary gift every time they recruit a new pet parent.

At the end of the day, what pet parents are looking for out of their visits to your shop is a positive experience for both themselves, and their pets. Offering loyal customers perks such as discounts shows your customers that you value their business, and helps to nurture the relationship at hand.When you form a bond with your customers, it not only personalizes their retail experience, but it gives them more of a reason to refer your business to their friends.

A study states that consumer word-of-mouth marketing generates more than double the sales that resulted from paid advertising, so building a relationship with your customers has benefits beyond their loyalty. To encourage your customers to spread the word, you can integrate a referral system into your loyalty program. Offer your loyal customers points or a complimentary gift every time they recruit a new pet parent, and their reasons for recommending your pet shop gets even better. With the right system in place, this can be done automatically without much hustle for your customers. The system can generate a unique link for each customer that they are able to keep track of, to see who referred whom and what rewards to offer to each of them.

To Bark It Up

The pet community is filled with happy and intrigued pet parents, and equally excited pets, looking for pet shops that can offer them great products, but most importantly, a great and unique experience. Customer loyalty is a great way to separate your business from other pet shops, and it is something that will bode well with pet parents. Loyalty is a very important factor when it comes to pets and their parents, so as a merchant, offering them this service goes a long way.

For any questions or concerns regarding this article, please contact us at pr@tapmango.com

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Loyalty 3.0

Examining the Levels of Loyalty Programs, and What They Can Bring to Your Business

 

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In the retail world, where the emphasis is placed on customer experience, what merchants can offer to consumers is crucial to success. One of the best ways to improve customer experience, is to implement a customer loyalty program. The notion of a customer loyalty program has been around for a number of years, and has become one of the best ways a business can provide a better customer experience. The reasons why businesses should use a customer loyalty program has stayed the same, but over the years, the way they function has evolved. These changes offer a whole new set of opportunities for merchants to engage their customers with, and has grown far beyond what customer loyalty initially started as. Technology has allowed customer loyalty programs to move beyond a basic punch card, and expand into a full-fledged, automated system that provides convenience for merchants and customers alike.

The integration of digital media into loyalty programs is one of the biggest changes made to the traditional system, as it allows for a faster, more seamless experience for customers. As the majority of consumers today utilize smartphones, many businesses are looking for ways to adopt practices that work in conjunction with these devices, and customer loyalty is no exception! A study notes that loyal customers use brands’ mobile apps twice as much as non-loyal customers, and this reflects how digital media has become an integral part of the loyalty industry. The inclusion of digital media in the structure of customer loyalty programs is yet another mark of how far they have come from their punch card beginnings. By looking at the advancements made through modern loyalty programs, you can see whether your business is ahead of the curve when it comes to loyalty and customer engagement.

Below is a scale outlining the different levels of  customer loyalty programs that are currently available to your business. See how up-to-date your business’ loyalty program really is, and why you should consider upgrading to Loyalty 3.0:

 

The Levels of Loyalty Programs

Loyalty 0.0 - No Loyalty Program

Not much to say here! A previous TapMango blog notes that 83% of customers are more likely to do business with companies that have a loyalty program in place, so there’s no time like the present to set one up! It’s easy, affordable, and the potential returns are endless!

Loyalty 1.0 - Punch Card Loyalty Programs

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Source: Help Scout

Back to basics! Whether it is a stamp or a punch card, this style of loyalty programs presents a simple incentive for customers, offering a free product after a certain number of purchases. Loyalty program like this creates a reason for customers to return to your store, but has no long term benefit for the business. A disposable, one-time use card can only track what is printed on the card, and once the card is redeemed, and the free product is claimed, the incentive for the customer to return is diminished. With this style of program, the loyalty starts and ends with the disposable card; the customer must remember to carry the card around with them whenever they go to the store, and must remember to get it stamped or hole punched for the loyalty to take place (let's face it, we all remember that time we were looking for the completed punch card, only to realize we lost it).

On the merchant’s end, things are not looking so great either. A punch card loyalty system is a hassle to manage, as it can be hard to keep track of how many punch cards have been distributed or redeemed. And just imagine the process if you decide to change the free offer on that punch card, after you have just printed 1,000 units, basically, you can’t! Additionally, measuring the effectiveness of punch cards is extremely difficult, as the manual process of using a stamp or hole punch is not integrated into the electronic sales system. Due to this fact, there is no real connection to the consumer, and merchants have no way of knowing who their customers are, so no relationship is formed. To improve this style of loyalty program, there needs to be a more convenient way to take advantage of its features, and an incentive with longevity to keep customers coming back, even after their free product has been redeemed.

Loyalty 2.0 - Loyalty Card Programs

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Source: Wild Apricot

The loyalty card picks up where the punch card leaves off, and provides customers with a continuous point system.This system collects points for the consumer every time they make a purchase, and keeps track of them digitally. This is a great way to elevate the punch card, as a simple swipe of the card will save the points for the customer, and lets them choose when to redeem them. Unfortunately, the loyalty card falls short in collecting data about consumers, and therefore, cannot assist in creating a tailored experience for consumers. One study found that 61% of customers are more likely to buy from businesses that provide a personalized experience, and a loyalty system is a great way to help gather information to make this happen.

While the loyalty card may be an improvement to the punch card, it maintains some of the same problems that the punch card faced. A customer still has to remember to have their loyalty card on them at the store, and must remember to swipe their card in order to get points for their purchase. There is also the inconvenience for the customer to have to carry around the loyalty card. Shoppers simply don’t want to have to carry around a large number of loyalty cards and have a wallet too large to fit in their pocket.

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Source: Seinfeld

Loyalty 2.1 - Mobile App Loyalty Program

Loyalty 2.1 takes a small leap to the first technological advancements that were applied to the customer loyalty industry, in which loyalty cards were replaced with digital capabilities. Now, a slightly more sustainable and convenient solution has been put in place.

With the rise of smartphones came mobile apps, the secret weapon that has proven to be one of the best ways to meet a user’s needs. An app-based loyalty program provides customers with ease, as all they need is their phone to take advantage of the perks they have access to. Statistics show that 90% of mobile loyalty users feel they have gained something from these loyalty apps, proving their efficiency and popularity. Mobile apps have the technology to store the purchasing data of consumers, which means that the app can help the business better understand consumers and their purchasing decisions. While this may provide more information about loyal customers, it does not engage them in a way that builds a relationship. Similar to the punch card and loyalty card, loyalty starts and ends with the transaction, and does not provide an opportunity for customers to be engaged by the business. If loyalty is only found on a smartphone screen, consumers lose out on the customer experience from your business.

Loyalty 3.0 - Multi-Platform Customer Engagement Loyalty Programs

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Source: TapMango

 

Standing tall at the top of the chain is the multi-platform loyalty program, which takes the strengths of the other methods of customer loyalty, and improves on their weaknesses. For example, the outdated stamp card is upgraded to a smart loyalty tag; this card can hold both monetary value, prepaid product credits, and loyalty points, and never needs to be replaced. Even if the card is lost, all the data is stored on a digital portal, and it's simple to issue a new card with all of the old information on it. With platforms, such as the one offered by TapMango, what you are providing your customers with is a loyalty program that is enticing, straightforward, and integrated with customers’ digital media. You receive an inhouse tablet that can keep track of the points a consumer collects after each visit, and makes it easy for customers, by letting them know when they can redeem a free gift, with visuals to guide the process.

With Loyalty 3.0, there are a number of features that advance the customer experience, by finding new ways to interact and connect with consumers.The in-store tablet, as an example, can incorporate gamification promotions, that not only encourages loyal customers to play, but also sparks curiosity from those around who would then have an interest in joining your loyalty program. This helps to drive conversation in store, and connect merchants with consumers. The Bank of America found that 57% of small businesses attribute customer relations as the main source of repeat business, so your interactions with your customers in store must make them want to return!

Some of the other features that Loyalty 3.0 offers help to personalize the experience for your customers. With a multi-platform loyalty program, it’s an easy process to collect data about the effectiveness of your promotions, as well as your customers’ purchasing patterns. This helps to put your customers into groups based off of their interests, which your business can then message with content targeted to their purchasing needs. Loyalty 3.0 can also be used for time-based promotions, as there are a number of features that can interact with your customers, even when they’re not in your store. You can pre-sell your products to your customers, so that they can pay online, and pick up their product or service at your business when it’s convenient for them. In addition, you can create an automated campaign that will offer your customers promotions at a predetermined time, such as their birthdays. With Loyalty 3.0, these features are available, to truly connect and engage with your customers.

Signing up and running a multi-platform loyalty program is easy and extremely price efficient, and this is due to the fact that a merchant joins a system, that offers a preconstructed platform. However, TapMango is unique in having the capabilities to have every aspect of your multi-platform loyalty program customized to your liking. Your customer experience will not only be seamless, but also brand-specific to your business. TapMango offers a fully customized system, showing that your loyalty program is completely independent (as if you spent the money to build it from scratch). Since you get an independent loyalty program your consumers, they will not have access to your competitors using the same platform, who could potentially be offering better deals right around the corner.

Loyalty 3.0 captures the principles and ideas of modern customer experience, and this allows for small businesses to compete with big brands.

To Upgrade, or Not to Upgrade?

With the easy-to-use interface and affordable costs, there's no excuse not to upgrade to Loyalty 3.0. By upgrading your loyalty program, you offer your customers an experience that is engaging, easy to keep track of, and catered to the digital media they already own. The costs to set up and run a functioning loyalty program, while also trying to provide the most benefit for customers, are two things that were once hard to juggle. Now, with the use of a multi-platform loyalty program, you get the highest level of customer loyalty for a competitive and cost-effective price. What more could you ask for?!

To get information about Loyalty 3.0, feel free to contact us here. For any questions or concerns regarding this article, please contact us at pr@tapmango.com

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Changing the Game!

 

How Loyalty Enables Brick and Mortar Game Stores To Overcome Modern Challenges

 

Choose Your Weapon

 

From Crazy Eights to Call-of-Duty, Minecraft to Magic the Gathering, the gaming industry is absolutely massive.

Gone are the days that gaming was just a young boy’s hobby, as the industry has grown exponentially, and people from different demographics are coming together to join in on the fun. An industry report, dated April 2016, notes that 73% of gamers are 18 years of age or older, and 41% are female. These numbers show just how far the gaming industry has expanded from its humble beginnings, into a multi-billion dollar empire. Statistics show that in 2015, the global gaming industry generated $91.8 billion dollars, and is projected to grow in the coming years.

 

 

Age & Gender

Source: The ESA, Industry Facts

 

What these numbers show is that the gaming industry is continuing to grow, and there is a large amount of potential for businesses to thrive. However, the projected rise in the industry is bringing a lot of new players into the mix, all looking to get in on the action. And though the competition has always been stiff with retail shops, the rising digital downloads market has upped the difficulty level even further.

The digital downloading segment of the gaming industry first impacted game sales in 2009, and has progressively grown with each succeeding year. Noted by the chart below, 2014 was the first year that the digital market eclipsed the physical portion, and last year it accounted for 56% of overall sales. Included in this digital shift is the emerging popularity of mobile gaming. The mobile gaming industry presented a completely new style of gaming, and has continued to grow and compete with traditional gaming. Market researchers found that in 2015, mobile gaming took a lead over other gaming platforms, and has carved out its place in the industry.

Digital game downloadsSource: Statistica, Video game sales delivery by platform

 

 

The Roadblocks in Retail Gaming

With the competition in the gaming industry growing everyday, one of the biggest problems that game shops face is differentiating themselves from the rest of the competition. Considering the large number of merchants selling the same products, formulating a unique selling point for your shop allows consumers to connect with your business. This helps you build a relationship with those customers who frequently visit your store. The gaming community is a large part of the industry, so being linked to it is important, and a good way to engage with your customers.

One of the best ways to differentiate yourself from your competition is how you communicate and engage with the customers who come into your shop. Customers, quite obviously, have different interests; while some may like first-person shooter games,  others will prefer role-playing games. The problem that arises for game shops is how to target these customers specific tastes and preferences. With the vast number of games that are out on the market, your business probably offers a number of different products, to meet the interest of your customers. That means that your consumers won’t want updates on products they would never buy. For example, if one of your customers is a board game fan, they most likely won’t want to see promotions for trading cards. Imagine a customer receiving your promotions on items they have no interest in, by the time the targeted promotion comes their way they will probably ignore it. Consumers do not like spam! A study found that 40.5% of consumers prefer ads that are tailored to their interests, and this fact is especially important in the gaming industry, where there is a diverse range of products available at your store.

Source: Marketing Charts, Consumers say they prefer...

Finally, a major challenge that gaming stores face is getting to customers before the rest of the competition on those special occasions. As the gaming industry frequently releases upgrades, and expansions, customers are looking to be the first ones to get their hands on new material. It’s easy enough to understand by the long lines on release dates! The issue of timing is something all game shops must be sure to think about, as gamers will go to the shop that can get them their content the fastest.

Source: Madcatz, Fans waiting in line for Halo 4

 

The Game Changers

With all of this in mind, it can be challenging to think of different ways to set your game store apart from the competition, and draw in a loyal customer base in the process. Below are three great solutions that are highly recommended for you to implement to truly differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack.

Unlock the Potential of Rewards

The gaming industry is chock full of creativity, and that doesn’t have to stop with your business! Offering your consumers a special gift after purchases creates an incentive for customers to spend more at your shop, earn access to potential rewards, and keep coming back. Creating a loyalty program is an easy way to keep track of your customers’ spendings, and gives the incentive for customers to return to your store.

The rewards you present your customers should be relevant to their interests based on the different games that they play and their purchasing patterns. For example, a 25% discount off of XBox headsets, or buy two card packs and get the third free, offers a unique incentive to customers. A previous TapMango blog noted that loyal customers spend ten times more than regular customers, and in an industry that revolves around collecting, this has a lot of impact on gaming merchants. Get creative! Your customers will appreciate all the things that you can offer.

Group Customers

The ability to create exclusive groupings for your customers will be so important for easy and effective communication. This gives you a convenient way to message your customers about the games they play, and none of the rest. TapMango, for instance, allows you to automate the process by categorizing consumers to groups based on their product purchases. As an example, say you want to split your customers to XBOX and PS users; then when consumers buy XBOX or PS products they will be automatically associated to that group, respectively. Targeting your customers with relevant information they are interested in is the best way for them to find out about what your business has to offer, without pushing too much unwanted promotions.

Get Ahead of the Game

Pun intended. By offering a system that lets customers prepay for the content they are looking for, you’ll become the first and only game shop they want to visit. TapMango enables you to send out a message via sms or email that a new product or special sale is on the way. This provides your customers with the option to prepay at their convenience, directly from their mobile device or a computer, without having to come into the store. Or imagine your shop is hosting a Yugioh tournament, and you want to offer an advance ticket sale; this can make life a little less hectic when the rush of a tournament comes into play. Adding a digital payment option makes this an even faster and more efficient process, which can put you ahead. As people buy items or tickets online they continue to accumulate loyalty points in your store and have more of a reason to come back to redeem those points.

 

 

Strategy
Source: Rich as a King, Avoid clueless investing...

By utilizing these strategies, you help to build a relationship with consumers in hopes of having them return to your store. Our last blog highlighted the importance of connecting with your customers, to gain their loyalty for future purchases. With all the competition in the gaming industry, the different benefits your business can offer to your customers will set you apart from the rest. With the right strategy in place, victory is nothing more than a click, a roll, or a button-tap away.

For any questions or concerns regarding this article, please contact us at pr@tapmango.com

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