Peer to Peer: How do I turn holiday shoppers into repeat customers?

Win holiday shoppers’ loyalty  to keep them coming back all year

Tara Chauvin, Joanna Mileos and Braden Hoeppner

TARA CHAUVIN - Marketing manager, Rtown

The holiday season provides the perfect opportunity to drive new foot or online traffic to your business. Irresistible sales and limited-time offers are key to getting the most return on investment (ROI) during the gift-purchasing season. But how do you get those festive shoppers coming back when Santa goes back to the North Pole? By building brand allegiance through loyalty programs that entice and excite customers.

Rewards programs have been a major marketing component for almost every industry this year.

The holidays are the perfect time to launch a loyalty program that sticks. Here are my top tips to designing a loyalty program that turns holiday shoppers into repeat customers, while satisfying your bottom line:

1. Simple: Make it so easy to join that a customer couldn’t possibly pass the opportunity by. Try using a downloadable smartphone loyalty app – shoppers always have their phones.

2. Enticing: Design a loyalty offer that grabs their attention from the moment they enter your business. These can include percentage discounts, members-only perks and seasonal or “act now” deals.

3. Shareable: Make it social-sharing worthy. Customers who value the benefits will go on Facebook and Twitter to spread the word.

4. Measureable: To determine the ROI of your program, track redemptions in an online dashboard or in-house reporting tool. Not seeing the results you expect? Modify loyalty offers based on the proven data.

Don’t miss the opportunity to gain loyalty from holiday shoppers this year.

Launch a rewards program this season and get a customer for life.

JOANNA MILEOS - Owner, Granville Island Toy Company

Customers are your lifeline to profits, respect and reputation, so you need to exceed their holiday shopping expectations through great customer service. Not only will this make them want to come back, chances are they’ll share their fabulous experience with family and friends, increasing your odds that one customer will bring you many more.

How to create happy customers during the holidays:

• Make sure your business is adequately staffed. That means ample staff should be on the floor to assist customers and replenish stock. Make sure the checkout is organized and performing at a steady pace.

• Focus on what the customer wants, not what you have to offer. Let your customer do the talking and show them you are listening by making the appropriate suggestions.

• Be helpful – even if there’s no immediate profit in it. Don’t have the item your customer is looking for? Refer them to the business that does. Take it one step further by calling to put the item on hold for the customer. 

• Reward them for their patronage. Whether it’s a future discount or a customer rewards program, show them you appreciate their business. For example, our toy rewards program makes returns hassle-free.

• Take advantage of the power the big box boys don’t have. Go above and beyond your customer’s expectations by empowering your staff. Allow them to make on-the-spot decisions about bending a store policy if it means making the customer happy.

• Customer service sells. Offline and online, customers are looking for hassle-free, convenient, pleasant shopping. Give them that, and you’ll notice a better bottom line for your business.

BRADEN HOEPPNER - Chief marketing officer, Clearly Contacts

While a steep discount may attract new customers, it’s important to remember the discount won’t determine whether or not first-time customers will return after the holiday season. A top-notch customer experience across all aspects of your business is what leads to building brand loyalists and a database of repeat customers.

Our company mandate is to offer an unparalleled customer experience.

Yes, the holiday season increases the volume of customers; however, our goal is to offer the same level of service our customers would encounter any other time of year.

The holidays shouldn’t affect the way businesses are serving their customers; discounts may encourage purchases throughout the holidays, but it’s still the experience and level of service that customers receive that will determine whether or not they return.

If it’s fast and reliable shipping times, strong return policies, outstanding customer service and selection that differentiate your business from the rest, it’s critical to leverage those aspects even when volume of orders spike.

Don’t sacrifice that customer touch point because you failed to plan for the volume increase of the holiday shopping season.

After the holidays are over, don’t let your new customers forget you. January is a slower month for most retailers in which case it’s also an opportunity for businesses to reach out to those first-time customers for feedback.

Holidays or otherwise, as long as we continue to cater to the customer experience, these holiday shoppers will often turn into long-time brand loyalists.