THE IMPORTANCE OF CUSTOMER RETENTION FOR PET STORE RETAILERS
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.
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.
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.
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.
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