In a multichannel world, it’s important that loyalty programmes move across shopping channels in just the same way as customers do, the audience to a recent Internet Retailing webinar heard. Rajashree Ramakrishnan, head of retail solutions at Tata Consultancy Services, global provider of technology services and solutions, explained how retailers can meet new customer expectations of crosschannel rewards.
Shopping channels, said Rajashree Ramakrishnan, head of retail solutions at Tata Consultancy Services, are old news for customers. Today they think in terms of what they want to buy rather than concentrating on how they will buy it. Just as they are becoming more flexible in the way they would like to buy, so customers now expect to be rewarded for all their transactions and, indeed, interactions with a retailer.
The old model is no longer valid, and argued Rajashree, it’s now time for retailers to work out how to meet the new expectations of consumers who are spending time considering a retail purchase in a variety of different ways, from Facebook to YouTube and personal recommendations. “It is very, very important that we understand what the customer is doing and find the absolute right way of rewarding the customer,” said Rajashree.
So how can retailers do that? Personal recommendation is key, argued Rajashree. After all, figures show, 45% of consumers want retailers to understand their preferences while 47% would like the ability to shop from lists of their favourite items, as recalled by retail sites. Customers want to be recognised and reward offers to be tailormade for them, delivered through the mobile phone that they take everywhere.
Rewards also have an important part to play in influencing the shopping journey, said Rajashree. To be most effective, retailers must know about their customer, how they search, how they choose to buy, and how they would like to be treated after their buy.
The new game of rewards, said Rajashree, is about being personalising promotions that are offered in every channel at the right time. Such offers should be context-based, depending on customers’ buying history, current purchases and location. They should function across channels, whether that’s social, mobile, local or store-based shopping. “This means,” said Rajashree, “that not only can you recognise the customer across channels, you can influence their shopping behaviour across the lifecycle.”
Giving rewards instantly and in response to interactions, whether a visit to the store or a Facebook ‘like’, are also important, as is rewarding ‘green’ behaviour. And all of these ways of rewarding must be integrated into a single rewards programme that also functions across the mobile phone, and can be played with as games can.
Rajashree flagged up a range of practical steps that retailers can take in order to achieve a crosschannel loyalty programme. For example, personalisation can be achieved by linking transactions to customers and enabling dynamic segmentation. Web services and integration with ecommerce and other transaction systems help to make loyalty programmes real time, while mobile loyalty systems can work well when member services are extended to mobile devices and use systems that capitalise on mobile features such as location-based services. Integrating an m-wallet is another useful way to bring the mobile within the loyalty programme.
Looking at social media, retailers can integrate Open ID in order to allow a single social media sign on while rewarding social activity. Loyalty programmes must cross channels, with features including a single profile and omnichannel carts, while gamification can be achieved through the use of an Open ID log in, the introduction of game points and the use of apps that can access trade points.
Taking these steps will help retailers to bring together all the information they have on their customers, allowing them to serve them in more effective, and profitable, ways.
Rajashree finished her presentation by introducing the audience to the TCS Rewardz programme.
Why all of this is so important was perhaps summed up in the answer to a question from the audience. Asked why context is king, Rajashree replied: “Consumers are no longer defined by who they are but by what they do, where and how they do it.”
The new rules of shopper rewards
Rajashree Ramakrishnan, head of retail solutions at Tata Consultancy Services
Context is king: who is the customer, and what, where and when are they buying?
Shoppers do not think in channels: they need solutions to their needs or wants.
It’s not about transactions, but interactions: sales are part of a mix of interactions that also includes Facebook recommendations and product reviews.
The customer is still in the store: looking for a better experience and education.
From store order to customer order: retailers must focus less on the channel, and where the order is placed, and put the focus instead on the customer.
Click here to see this webinar in full for yourself, with more detail on how and why retailers can implement crosschannel rewards, to see the accompanying slides and hear the live question and answer sessions for free.
More information about our webinar series is available here.