Leading Retailers Implement Innovative Loyalty Strategies

  • July 24, 2012 at 1:23 PM EDT
  • By Alicia Esposito
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This is Part 2 of Retail TouchPoints’ three-part Customer Loyalty Report. This feature spotlights the rise of the SoLoMo shopper and how today’s retailers are keeping pace with educated and hyper-connected consumers. Part 2 reveals three retailers that are utilizing different strategies to garner long-term loyalty from customers across channels.

Forward-thinking retailers are utilizing innovative strategies, such as personalization, real-time videos and Voice of the Customer (VoC) strategies to increase customer engagement and loyalty across channels. Wine.com, Lenovo and The Container Store have taken the lead in implementing these initiatives.

Wine.com Drives Engagement With Recommendations And Personalized Assortments

Retailers, such as Wine.com, are tapping into recommendation engines and creating personalized assortments based on past purchases and browsing behaviors in an effort to recreate the Amazon shopping experience.

“Personalization can be important, but retailers should focus more on being highly relevant,” explained Nikki Baird, Managing Partner of RSR Research. “That means understanding a lot more than just who the shopper is. It means understanding what they’re trying to achieve — in life, in a shopping trip, in an experience. That’s a lot harder to achieve.”

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wine.com_image Wine.com has amped up its personalization strategy by tailoring assortments and item lists based on consumers’ browsing behaviors, as well as past purchases. The more shoppers search the site, the more tailored and relevant the shopping journey will be, Cam Fortin, Director of Business Development for Wine.com, told Retail TouchPoints.

The eTailer has developed an account page, through which Wine.com “is leveraging a lot of data to offer products that are truly useful to consumers,” Fortin said. “By surfacing relevant content based on past behavior, we keep shoppers engaged and offer pertinent information such as most recent orders, order delivery status information and more.”

To increase customer engagement, Wine.com also offers seamless access to customer ratings, as well as articles and reviews from wine critics. This strategy also allows the company to be seen as a thought leader in its market, Fortin added.

”Buying wine can be an intimidating process,” noted Rich Bergsund, CEO of Wine.com. “We’ve tried to build consumer confidence to make the decision-making process informative, easy and fun.”

A key component of building consumer confidence is providing relevant information, Bergsund explained, so customer ratings/reviews and scores from wine critics help making a purchase decision an easy process. “We also want to give consumers a choice regarding how deep they want to go into the researching and browsing journey,” he added.

Additional features offered by Wine.com to create a more personalized and compelling shopping experience include:

  • Mobile- and tablet-optimized applications;
  • Browsing capabilities based on price, item type and other categories;
  • The Stewarship Program, which offers discounted shipping for Wine.com’s “most loyal shoppers”; and
  • A quick checkout option that allows shoppers to save preferred credit card information into their accounts.


Lenovo Taps Online Video To Drive Conversion And Engagement

Merchants today are considering the benefits of implementing more interactive tools, such as video, to educate consumers on their offerings and increase purchase likelihood. For example, Lenovo, a technology company and PC vendor, utilizes SundaySky’s SmartVideo solution to deliver personalized, real-time video experiences throughout its online product catalog.

lenovoSince deploying the SmartVideo solution throughout its product catalog in the U.S., Lenovo has successfully boosted customer engagement. While the videos viewed are only a fraction of overall web traffic, “almost 90% of customers who start viewing videos watch until their completion,” according to Lewis Broadnax, Executive Director of Sales and Marketing for Lenovo.

“Customers who watch product videos are converting at a higher rate and at a higher order value,” Broadnax told Retail TouchPoints. “We are currently expanding our portfolio with SundaySky with innovative new ideas for delivering an even better customer experience.”

Through the solution, Lenovo drives e-Commerce traffic, retargets potential customers, maximizes customer support and enhances customer relationships. Due to the successful implementation, Lenovo is extending the SundaySky solution to its Canadian site.

SmartVideo was designed to deliver personalized, real-time videos based on inventory and other pertinent information to help convert prospects into buyers. “Our main goal was to deliver a video to customers who were looking for high level overviews of our products,” Broadnax explained, “which provided enough specification detail to help with their purchase decision.”

The Container Store Cashes In On VoC

Best-in-class retailers are leveraging Voice of Customer (VoC) technologies and solutions to ensure more memorable and consistent shopping experiences. To connect the dots across channels more efficiently, The Container Store partnered with OpinionLab, a customer feedback solution provider.

the_container_store_imageThe Container Store initially implemented OpinionLab’s feedback solution in 2009 when the retailer re-platformed its web site. Upon deployment, the merchant also was able to obtain in-depth data on the efficacy of is storefront, as well as listen to and learn from online visitors.

“Initially, we really wanted the opportunity to receive feedback on the site to better understand technical glitches that we didn’t catch during testing,” Davis explained. “However, it has evolved into something much more than that. We’re getting great feedback about our stores, associates at locations, as well as comments on new features and product questions. Now there’s a great opportunity for us to turn this information to our customer solutions department and help them address specific items as needed.”

Due to the success of this initiative, the retailer expanded its VoC strategy to include a mobile comment card in the fall of 2011. By providing this mobilized service, The Container Store’s technology, merchandising and marketing teams can glean contextual feedback on store experiences in real time.

“Mobile is very important to us because our target customer is busy,” Davis said. “Many consumers want to access our site through smartphone or tablet, so we make the mobile submission form available so we can easily pinpoint any features that could use tweaking and make the mobile experience more streamlined.”

The Container Store receives daily alerts and relays content to its technology, merchandising and marketing teams. Back-end toolkits interpret structured and unstructured VoC feedback, allowing team members to track and analyze customer goals, successes and frustrations, address them and apply solutions as needed. As a result, the retailer is able to refine campaigns, address technical glitches and create a memorable cross-channel experience, leading to greater loyalty among its consumer base.

“One of our inherent principles is: ‘communication is leadership,’ so we’ve always been a very transparent company,” Davis explained. “One of the benefits of this principle is that many of us still feel like we’re on the frontlines of stores because we get so much in-depth information from customers every day. This was a natural transition, which allows consumers to communicate with us directly through the web site.”

Click here to access Part I of the Customer Loyalty Report. Part III of the report will appear in the July 31 newsletter.

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