TECHNOLOGY

Customer loyalty is key to driving holiday season sales

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

As retailers gear up for the biggest shopping seasons of the year, they are stepping up their customer loyalty game to encourage repeat traffic both in-store and online.

To earn customer loyalty, it’s critical for retailers to safeguard and protect personal information (76%); reward them with personalized discounts or special offers (73%); and interact with them through their preferred communication channel (55%), according to “Building Loyalty with Dynamic Shoppers,” a study from Valassis.

These strategies, in addition to consistent interaction throughout the year, will also pay off as the crucial back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons approach. For example, 73% of consumers typically shop retailers who have reached out to them throughout the year. Only 27% said they shop new retailers during key time periods (holidays, back-to-school, etc.).

These initiatives will help retailers attract and retain customers for the long-term, which is important as 34% of all respondents have just one preferred retailer for each purchase category. The stakes are even higher among Millennials (47%) and millennial parents (57%).

The best way to connect with shoppers is through advertising and promotions. Nearly three-fourths (73%) of consumers admitted they can be swayed by advertised promotions and sales for where to shop and what to buy. Forty-seven percent of consumers said receiving an offer will drive them to visit a store or website they don’t typically shop.

Print ads also encourage 44% of customers to go online and make a purchase from that retailer. This is higher for Millennials (58%) and Millennial parents (72%).

Staying abreast of these trends, 76% of retailers plan to increase the amount of promotions they are offering in 2018, according to a separate study by RetailMeNot.

“The competitive retail climate has made it crucial for brands to differentiate and prove their value to customers,” said Curtis Tingle, chief marketing officer, Valassis. “There are a number of variables that impact a consumer’s decision on where to shop. Discounts, offers, communication frequency, channel of engagement and more, all play a role in determining which brands become preferred retailers and reap the rewards of a loyal customer base.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Stitch Fix launches a new subscription box—for kids

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Stitch Fix is making its shopping experience a family affair.

On Tuesday, the apparel subscription service expanded its offering with a new box aimed at girls and boys. The box, called Kids Fixes, includes between eight and 12 pieces of clothing and accessories from well-known brands, including Under Armour, Nike and Sovereign Code, as well as exclusive product from Rumi + Ryder, the compa-ny’s private label collection of playwear and essentials.

Merchandise is available in sizes 2T-14, and each box ranges from $10 to $35. Customers that keep all items receive a 25% discount. They are also required to pay a $20 styling fee, which is applied to-ward any item purchased in their child’s box. Unwanted merchandise can be returned with free shipping.

New and existing customers fill out a style profile, and pick the date to receive their first box. Existing customers can manage their child’s profile directly from their own.

“At Stitch Fix, our goal has always been to help our clients discover products and styles they love,” said Katrina Lake, founder and CEO of Stitch Fix. “Stitch Fix Kids is a fun and engaging way for kids to find clothes they love and feel their best in, while saving parents time.”

Stitch Fix is the latest company to compete in the growing children’s clothing subscription segment. Other companies that have found a way to differentiate themselves in the increasingly crowded category include BabyGap, Old Navy, Target and Kidbox, among others.

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Walmart launches new digital tools, services for back-to-school

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Walmart is gearing up for the second biggest shopping season of the year.

The discount giant on Wednesday unveiled new online tools designed to ease the back-to-school shopping experience for parents, teachers and students. Among the new initiatives, Walmart is now featuring dedicated school supply lists within its mobile app. Last year, the discount giant’s website debuted TeachersLists, a centralized location where teachers can upload supply lists. This year, parents can access the lists on Walmart’s mobile app, as well.

By entering their ZIP code, customers can pinpoint their child’s individual classroom list or access a general grade supplies list. The app also pinpoints the store aisle for each item. Customers can also use the app to locate all available school supplies and brands at store-level.

Walmart is also debuting a service that helps teachers stock up on classroom supplies. Walmart’s Teacher Shop, a dedicated section online and in more than 2,100 stores, features classroom décor and supplies, including stickers, reward charts, dry erase boards and markers, among other essentials.

The retailer has also doubled the assortment of back-to-school and college products available during the season, with everything available for buy-online-pickup-in-store. Back-to-school staples are eligible for Walmart’s increasingly expanding Online Grocery Pickup shopping service, and a majority of back-to-class items are also available for free two-day shipping on orders over $35 without a membership fee, according to Walmart.

The discounter kicked off its back-to-school season with the introduction of its newly launched Buy the Room feature, a service that allows customers to add a group of items to their online shopping cart, and buy a complete look. Initially, the service will highlight dorm living, and feature five curated collections. Each room will feature up to 20 of the most popular items college students need to outfit their living space.

Buy the Room is an extension of Walmart’s new digital home furnishings shopping experience. This is one of many elements featured on Walmart’s redesigned website, which was introduced in February.

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