Customer loyalty stems from this shopper expectation
Loyal shoppers only want to buy from online retailers they believe “have their back.”
This was according to a new retail study from Radial and CFI Group which revealed that 84% of respondents said their experience with a superior online retailer elevates their expectations for all other retailers’ performances. These respondents added that the central element of a superior retail experience is the feeling that the retailer is looking out for their best interests.
This mindset has changed how customers approach loyalty programs. For example, 40% of customers refrain from joining loyalty programs because they don’t believe membership benefits are worth the time, money, or effort of signing up. Among those who do join, 76% do so to qualify for special promotions. Retailers should closely evaluate special offers for loyalty members to ensure the promotions are competitive.
Customers also expect more balanced fraud protection, however retailers often find it hard to juggle rigorous detection mechanisms with smooth customer ordering. For shoppers who experience a wrongly-identified fraud attempt, 26% said they will never shop at that retailer again. Retailers should seek sophisticated solutions, combining machine learning, robust analytics, and manual review to help strike this balance. Looking out for the customer involves protecting against fraud while also preventing unnecessary difficulty in the purchase process, the study reported.
Loyal customers also expect multiple return options. However, this too can be a double-edged sword. Returns are costly and create uncertainty in a retailer’s financial projections. Yet, offering flexible and easy returns is precisely what enables more sales in the first place. It turns out that 48% of online customers said that they are much more likely to purchase from a retailer when that retailer offers multiple return options.
“Customers expect retailers to protect them from any unexpected or unreasonable issues that may occur,” says Sheri Petras, CEO of CFI Group. “They expect a smooth process with flexible options. Best-in-class retailers are meeting these expectations and continue to make improvements that raise the performance bar across the industry.”
Amazon’s virtual Christmas tree farm opens for business
Amazon wants a piece of the fresh Christmas tree market.
The online giant on Thursday started selling live, full-size Christmas trees. Though a partnership with Hallmark, Amazon is selling is the exclusive supplier to Amazon fresh-cut Christmas trees ranging between 6 ft. and 7 ft. The trees, which range in price from $99 to $109, ship free for Amazon customers.
Customers can choose from Balsam Firs, Black Hills Spruce, Black Hills Spruce Sno-Tips, or Fraser Firs. Amazon is also selling 3 ft. to 4 ft. Black Hills Spruce Sno-Tips, Black Hills Spruces and Scotch Pines. The Christmas trees begin shipping Wednesday, Nov. 21, and each shipment is packed with a biodegradable tree removal bag and tree preservative.
Amazon’s Hallmark Christmas assortment also includes fresh holiday wreaths and flowers, including poinsettia plants, cards, ornaments and gift wrap, according to the company.
Starbucks expanding in big way in Japan
Starbucks Corp. is targeting Japan for growth, both physically and digitally.
The coffee giant said Thursday that it will build 100 new stores in Japan each year for the next three years. The new locations will bring the number of Starbucks stores in the country to 1,700.
Starbucks also announced it is teaming up with Uber Eats Japan to launch a food and beverage delivery service in Tokyo. The pilot program will begin on Nov. 9 in six stores, three locations in Tokyo, two in Shinjuku and one in Roppongi, with plans to scale the program within the next two years.
In addition, the company is partnering with Line, Japan’s leading social platform in a deal that will enable the coffee company to innovate across various technologies, including digital payment. The first phase will launch in the first half of 2019, and connect Starbucks to Line’s more than 78 million users across Japan.
In addition, Starbucks Japan will also begin piloting a mobile order and pay program in 2019, enabling customers to order and pay from their mobile device, and pick-up in store, skipping the line. The service will be available through Starbucks’ mobile Starbucks Rewards loyalty program. Since launching the program in September 2017, digital transactions and cashless payments now represent more than 25% of all customer transactions at Starbucks, according to the company.
The new initiatives coincide with Starbucks expansion across its Asia-Pacific markets. For example, the coffee giant now offers delivery service in more than 1,100 stores in 17 Chinese cities, with full-service coverage in Beijing and Shanghai. The program, called Starbucks Delivers, originally launched in 150 stores in Beijing and Shanghai in September.
In May, the coffee giant also announced plans to build 3,000 stores — 600 net new stores annually — during the next five years in Mainland China, which will double the market’s store count from its current 3,300 locations. Starbucks said it expects to more than triple revenue and more than double operating income in China by the end of fiscal year 2022 from fiscal year 2017.