Four Retail Loyalty Trends Associations Should Watch

From digital kiosks to personalized messaging, retail loyalty programs have embraced increasingly sophisticated tools and tactics to engage their members. Associations might want to try a few of them out.

Retailers are getting savvier about getting their customers in the door and keeping them coming back. Loyalty programs have a big part in that.

Restaurants, convenience stores, and big-box outlets are using clever new tools and tactics in pitching and promoting their loyalty programs—and associations would be wise to take notes. Here are some retail loyalty trends that might be worth analyzing and applying in your own engagement efforts:

The rise of the digital kiosk. In the world of fast food, it’s just not cool to go up to the counter anymore—now you can use a kiosk instead. The new technology has benefits for both the customer and the business: A customer can place a more specific, customized order than a person-to-person interaction might allow, and a restaurant can more easily pitch its loyalty program when a customer is already engaged at the screen.

“By reinforcing quicker and easier [point of service] experiences, digital kiosks turn one-time customers into recurring visitors who are much more willing to sign up for loyalty programs,” according to the industry publication FastCasual. “Plus, the accuracy and privacy of the self-serve kiosk process and the ease with which the information is collected make consumers feel more comfortable participating.” Associations could consider using kiosks at their events to take advantage of upselling opportunities.

More personalized loyalty buys. Loyalty isn’t about promoting every product to everyone anymore. Increasingly, it’s about using individual customer data to personalize offers. Many convenience store chains, for example, have ramped up their loyalty programs over time to boost personalization capabilities, according to CStore Decisions. While the programs are not new, the addition of mobile technology and increased data sophistication has made them more effective.

Tactics that track member behavior and progress.  At Business 2 Community, Mike O’Brien notes that brands are putting data at the center of the engagement experience from the start and continuously after that, through onboarding, progress alerts, and year-end notes. “Triggered messages generate more than three-quarters of email marketing ROI,” O’Brien explains. “They’re also a hallmark of email personalization as behavior-based responses to specific customer actions, such as abandoning an online shopping cart or making a purchase.”

What’s next? Potentially, digital voice interactions, according to the local marketing site Street Fight.  “[As] more and more consumers own voice devices, they will become accustomed to voice as a channel through which they can actually make purchases,” said Nicole Amsler, vice president of marketing at the AI-driven firm Formation.  “At that point, I think we’ll see voice assistants and devices start to play a bigger role in loyalty.”

(ririe777/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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