On the First Day of Christmas … Launch a Customer Loyalty Program

By Adrienne Burke | Small Business

The height of holiday shopping season might not seem the ideal time for a busy retailer to launch a customer appreciation program, but executives at Huzzah Media—which offers a digital platform enabling small businesses to provide loyalty rewards—say pshaw.

There’s no time like the present for Main Street merchants to take advantage of all the “shop local” enthusiasm and capitalize on foot traffic. Enrolling customers now will pay off throughout the year, Huzzah claims. The company’s research reveals that even though about half of small retailers consider repeat customers to be their best source of revenue, fewer than one in five host any kind of incentive program.

Lance Brown, Huzzah vice president of product development, says rewarding customers entices them to keep coming back. Here are tips he and his colleagues offer on setting up an incentive, loyalty, or rewards program for retail customers:

1. Train your team first. The program will flop if you try to engage customers before your in-store team knows how to explain and operate it. Help employees to understand the value of the loyalty to your business, and ask them to nail down a 10-second pitch they can give to explain the program’s benefits to any customer at the register, even when a long line is waiting behind them.

2. Make it simple. Especially considering those long holiday lines, make enrollment in your loyalty plan very easy. Don’t demand an application or a lot of personal information. Let the customer give you an email address and be done. Get them in, get them their points, and move on.

3. Encourage customers to share the love. Use peak shopping season to get as many people as possible enrolled in your rewards program. Offer current and new loyalty members extra points for inviting friends to join during holiday season. Or offer rewards to customers who check in and share on social media.

4. Incentivize even more holiday shopping. Prompt early-season shoppers to return later for last-minute gifts by increasing the points they’re rewarded for additional visits to your store. Or bring more traffic in on slower days: Offer triple points for shopping on Tuesday or rewards redeemable for specific days.

5. Use the holidays to bring in post-holiday business. To make your loyalty platform relevant all year long, think now about how to increase traffic during the post-holiday lull. Offer double points for shopping in January. And optimize rewards to bring people back sooner. Instead of a free gift or discount for every tenth purchase, make it for every third purchase.

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