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Would a Customer Loyalty Program Work For Your Store?

Posted by Kate Seat on 5/14/14 11:00 PM
Topics: college store customer service, college retail, customer loyalty

The students who shop at your store may feel like a captive audience, but that doesn’t mean you should downplay their value as loyal customers. Why not reward them for their loyalty with a program that allows them to accumulate points towards a future purchase? We recently ran a story about how The Phoenix Bookstore did just that.

Is this something your store should consider? Absolutely. Find out why in the following excerpt from an article by Jed Williams and John Swanciger, originally posted on Entrepeneur.com.

The philosophy behind a customer loyalty program is simple: Repeat customers are rewarded and businesses increase sales. It’s a basic but powerful strategy.

For instance, My Starbucks Rewards, the coffee giant's customer-retention program, significantly contributes to the company’s record growth. Starbucks claims that the program played a key role in its 26 percent rise in profit and 11 percent jump in total revenue in 2013’s second quarter fiscal results.

Whether the goal is to continually increase sales or to jumpstart sluggish revenue, customer-loyalty programs appear to have become a staple for many large corporations. But what about small businesses? Manta’s and BIA/Kelsey’s joint report “Achieving Big Customer Loyalty in a Small Business World” reveals that for early adopters who already have a customer loyalty program in placed, 64 percent of them report it’s been effective, meaning it makes more money than costs to maintain it. It’s important for business owners to keep in mind that customer loyalty isn’t just for big businesses – a well-designed program can help any size business scale and reach new heights.

Here’s why customer loyalty programs matter to small business:

A repeat customer gives and gives. Having a customer-loyalty program could help you increase repeat customers, which, in turn could boost your business’s revenue. A repeat customer spends 67 percent more on a given purchase than a new customer does. And they should be rewarded for this action, as retaining customers is less costly than acquiring new ones. By providing loyalty programs for current customers, small-business owners are not only saying thank you but are also motivating them to continue to be their brand ambassadors. They can easily spread the word about a business to their professional, personal and social networks, helping small-business owners increase their customer base even more.

Rise above the competition

It can be difficult for a small business to compete with a large brand considering that most large brands have more locations, resources, marketing dollars and the ability to offer lower prices. However, a good customer-loyalty program is an easy way for small businesses to show their personal side and remain competitive in spaces dominated by big business.

For example, many consumers may not love the coffee at a big-brand coffee chain but do love the fact they can earn points through their purchases and save money in the long run. However, it would be very simple and cost effective for a small coffee-shop owner with quality coffee to do the same.

Customer loyalty doesn't cost a fortune. Customer-loyalty programs don’t have to drain small businesses’ budget. While some corporations spill millions of dollars into loyalty programs, small businesses don’t have to follow the same tactic to achieve promising results.

Customer-retention programs are not just for big brand name players. They can provide many benefits for small businesses, such as increasing sales, helping them stand out and developing a stronger relationship with their customers -- and technology is making it easier and cheaper than ever before to launch one.

Does your store offer a loyalty program? Tell us about it in the comments!

About Kate Seat

Kate Seat is a former copywriter at MBS. When away from work, she’s either creating one-of-a-kind art dolls, reading or watching way too much tv with her husband, daughter and an irritable chinchilla named Klaus.

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