Are You Mining Loyalty Gold?
NATIONAL REPORT — Equipped with loyalty programs, convenience store retailers are collecting more data on their customers than ever before and the reasoning behind it is clear to data experts.
"It's imperative to use loyalty data to retain customers since it’s seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to encourage a visit from an existing customer," said Zach Goldstein, CEO of digital customer engagement platform Thanx.
Collecting data, though, is just the first step. The real results come when retailers dig deep into their loyalty program data and uncover insights to drive more traffic and sales.
Loyalty data such as date of purchase, items purchased, location of purchase and customer loyalty ID should be enriched with demographic data, weather data and category-specific data sets, "so any data mining or analytics efforts deliver rounded and well-defined insights," advised Scott Jennings, director of market development, retail and services sector for Qlik, a data analytics company.
"This can be a particular challenge for convenience store chains that have grown rapidly through acquisition, which typically implies the valuable customer shopping patterns and preferences are stored across many disparate legacy systems," he noted.
Forward-thinking c-store operators engage the entire organization in the data mining process. "Chains can leverage customer shopping patterns to better understand many different aspects of their business, including modernization efforts like new fresh food offerings or store refacing initiatives," stated Jennings. "Too many retailers forget to use the data as a common foundation of strategy across the organization."
Jennings points to MAPCO Express as a great example of a convenience store chain that leverages customer buying behavior to improve the customer experience.
"Understanding buying behavior allows us to see where we need to market and find a way to bring customers into stores," said Wade Sims, senior developer for BI (business intelligence) at MAPCO, which was recently acquired by Chile-based COPEC.
"We can look at customers who bought competing products, for example, and target them with a coupon online for one of our private label products," Sims added. "This allows us to provide our customers a better value and overall experience, while improving our store performance."
Retailers who want to stay on top of data mining need data and analytics platforms that allow for data capture across all applicable channels — point-of-sale (POS), e-commerce, mobile app, social media, etc. — and have the capability to collect data "for all consumer-tracked actions, not just customer purchases," according to Mona Patel, director of product strategy at Birst, a cloud BI tool and business analytics software platform.
"The latest customer data being collected is around customer engagement, which includes customer preferences and data metrics that help define a customer’s emotional sentiment," Patel told Convenience Store News.
One of the best ways to drive more traffic and sales is by using loyalty data for predictive actions, she believes. "A common example is using predictive capabilities to determine when customer attrition is about to occur," she said. "With this prediction, retailers can send targeted, personalized communications and offers to different customer segments, based on their past purchase cycles and frequency."
The Dos & Don'ts of Data
Goldstein of Thanx outlines what he believes a forward-thinking convenience retailer should do and not do when utilizing loyalty data insights to drive more traffic and sales:
- Identify VIP customers by capturing loyal customer data to attract high lifetime value.
- Make it effortless — use a phone number or email as a "loyalty card" because customers frequently forget plastic reward cards, causing retailers to lose valuable customer insights and data.
- Alternatively, use the credit or debit card as a "loyalty card," removing all the hurdles by linking the entire loyalty experience to any credit or debit card.
- Retain customers by marketing effectively through tailored campaigns and knowing how your customers prefer to engage at the right time — i.e., through SMS offers vs. email offers.
- Ask for feedback — when retailers solicit and respond to customer feedback, the consumer is more likely to return. The feedback also provides valuable insights.
- Incentivize customers to return to drive a high customer lifetime value.
- Use a holistic platform that allows brands to seamlessly interact with shoppers while assessing a wide range of data from the initial contact to point of purchase.
- Use cost-efficient A/B testing to see what campaigns resonate with customers and deliver the best return on investment.
- Be transparent by telling customers that you are using their data to deliver better products and deals based on their specific interests.
- Make your loyalty system overly complicated by asking for too much detailed information from customers (or else you risk fewer users signing up).
- Use generic marketing; it will be a wasted effort of both time and money that will not grab the attention of today’s customers.
- Rely only on rewards and incentives; instead, engage with customers through every touchpoint available (i.e., social media, email, SMS, in-person).
- Use click rates as a true measurement for the success of a loyalty program; measure success by the most important metric — dollars spent.
- Offer rewards that are unattainable within a reasonable amount of time.
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