Klarna recently got together with Power Retail, BigCommerce and Adore Beauty to talk about customer loyalty. In this panel, moderated by Alexandra Feiam, Editor of Power Retail, we heard from Rhys Thomas, Head of Partner Success at Klarna, Kyle Rifkin, Director of Partnerships APAC at BigCommerce and Michaela Michaut, Head of Acquisition & Retention at Adore Beauty, as they discussed some of the core principles of creating a deep and meaningful relationship with your customer.
Australians are shopping online more than ever before, and in this rapidly evolving landscape, it’s important to understand exactly what consumers want in order to create a long lasting and loyal relationship. The grocery list of tools available to retailers to help them stay relevant and stay connected to customers is ever changing. As an example, the increased demand for retailers to offer different payment options is on the rise. So options like by now, pay later are no longer a nice to have, but a must have, as well as a valuable marketing tool for retailers.
This discussion highlighted four key elements which are the most important aspects to keep in mind when fostering loyalty.
Michaela believes that a constant challenge when it comes to loyalty is maintenance of authenticity with customers and relevancy to them. She believes that the intensity of that has changed even more intensely over the last 12 months when the need to connect on a more real level increased with the pandemic, and brands needed to show the more human side of the brand. The relevancy piece shifted so much in terms of what all of a sudden mattered most to the customer. She said “I think the retailers that did really well in terms of servicing the customer needs were the ones that took that seriously as well. In particular, if we think about that last mile element, knowing that people couldn’t get out to the shop and just how important those components ended up becoming in the journey.”
Relevancy is of course a huge part of ongoing value creation. Michaela highlights that the concept of loyalty is constantly changing as people and customers are. She suggests that businesses should either invest in, research, or even easier, send out surveys or create polls on Instagram, and thus understand what matters to their customers. This will create better relationships with your customers but also makes them feel like they are a part of the brand, which in turn creates an emotional connection.
She says “Loyalty really just is about relationship building at its most fundamental level. It can speak to business, it can speak to life. Keep it simple and use what you’ve got at hand”.
Besides the relevancy aspect, we kept on coming back to another important point. In BigCommerce’s recent study across Australia and New Zealand including over 3,500 shoppers, they discovered that there are some particularly interesting challenges that retailers are facing right now in terms of balancing the need for fast delivery on top of the need to maintain their P&L line. More specifically, they found that 71% of consumers actually want free delivery while only 19% of consumers want it fast. This was highlighted by Kyle in the discussion and he explained that “Simultaneously, we’ve actually seen that the average delivery price has risen over the last year. In 2020 the average price was around $3.24 and then actually bumped up to $3.94 in our most recent study”. So there seems to be this unique challenge where cost is more important than speed, but as a retailer you’ll need to balance that with your overall P&L.
The conversation about how Australians are adapting to online retail and what it means for brands has shifted focus, so one can wonder if aspects such as convenience and flexibility are driving more loyalty and repeat purchase behaviour rather than the brand itself.
Creating loyalty takes time. Rhys explained that there’s no short term fix for establishing brand loyalty, but still highlights the importance of loyalty to a brand itself. “When you as a brand delight a consumer with your product, they will consciously choose to make repeat purchases over time, become loyal to that particular brand, regardless of price, convenience or any other competitive marketing tactics.” he continues.
Kyle adds to it that it’s a lot cheaper to keep the customers that you already have in your database than acquiring new ones, and he highlights the importance of listening to your customers, taking reviews seriously and communicating with them. You need to work with reviews seriously and proactively, because this is what feeds the funnel in terms of getting customers back, but also has the benefit of giving your business more eyeballs.
Moving on to the technology side of things, and how retailers can leverage new solutions and services to drive loyalty, Rhys explains that there are two crucial things here to consider, Data and AI. “It’s really important to understand your data. If you’re able to harness at least 5% of this data you can use this to make meaningful decisions. It actually benefits both the retailer and the consumer, and you can also use this data to personalise the customer experience” he continues.
Kyle adds that no matter if you’re a massive corporation or a small business owner, you need to choose the right technology for you to use at your stage of growth. Trends that we’re seeing with respect to e-commerce, and the growth in the usage of technologies that happened as Covid first started are here to stay. “So the 2.0 of this equation is – great, you have your online presence. Now how are you going to differentiate it in such a way that your business will grow and stand out from the crowd?” He says “The good news is that there’s not any particular pathway to success, it’s really a choose your own adventure style“
So how about loyalty programs?
There are many aspects to customer loyalty and retention. So before wrapping this up, what did these panelists think about things such as loyalty programs? What’s the point of establishing a loyalty program and by extension, loyal customers?
Rhys explains “What we’ve actually seen with the merchants that we have partnered with is that those who have established a loyalty program establish a loyal customer base, and they enjoy three things.” First of all, they have reduced marketing and transaction costs. Second, they would have reduced customer turnover expenses and then, thirdly, increased positive word of mouth. The first step towards loyalty is to make sure that your value proposition strictly reinforces your objectives. Don’t put any additional value in what you don’t need to to drive a specific objective. Furthermore, you really want to identify the features and benefits that your consumer values, particularly for your brand or your category. Also, always make sure that you have a good internal understanding of what the value is.
Kyle highlights that the foundational driver is to establish a base level of trust. This is mainly about the acquisition piece driving new customers into the funnel, but when it comes to loyalty and building that long lasting relationship you need to shift into greater, value based drivers. This is where a loyalty program might come in handy. He wrapped up the conversation by adding “There’s no better way to get a good friendship going with your customer than putting a little TimTam in their package. As quirky as that is, it’s an absolutely genius move that Adore Beauty has done and continues to do to this day. Just that nice little warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you open up the package”.