Last updated: June 17, 2022 The WOW factor: How retailers can build customer relationships that last

The WOW factor: How retailers can build customer relationships that last

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The other day, as I was taking my daily scroll through Instagram, I saw a post from one of my favorite brands, which sells boxes of themed dog treats and toys through a monthly subscription. The brand advertised a bonus for new subscribers – an adorable set of matching accessories for both dog and owner.

But the comments on the post were telling:

  • “This is a cute, but what about those of those who are already subscribed? Why are you only offering extras for new customers?”
  • “I’m already subscribed. Do I have to re-subscribe or pay extra to get this?”
  • “I wish you would pay more attention to customers who have been subscribed for years.”

While this brand may have thought their post would build customer relationships, these comments painted a different picture. Though customers love the brand’s products, they don’t seem to love their brand experience.

Today, your company must do more to create effective relationships with customers that go beyond convincing them to buy your products and services. The methods that may have worked for you in the past – such as promos for new customers – won’t cut it anymore.

4 ways to build customer relationships in retail

With digital transformation radically reshaping retail, retailers need to shift away from leading with the sale. As social media and omnichannel experiences have altered customers’ relationships with brands, retailers need to rethink their strategy for driving growth.

Here are four strategies to build strong relationships and keep customers happy:
  1. Harness the power of social media
  2. Create personalized experiences
  3. Leverage customer data for insights
  4. Use customer-centric technology

Social media can make or break retail CX

Nowadays, customers don’t have to visit your store to be reminded of you. Instead, many choose to actively engage with your brand by adding you to their social media feeds and downloading your apps on their phone.

But they do this because they expect something in return, be it early access to special promotions and sales or the opportunity to participate in contests and giveaways.

Some brands have successfully built customer relationships by taking advantage of certain customers’ eagerness to engage with their brand. For instance, they reward top “social sharers” who comment on and share their posts by offering them unique discounts. Others have gone as far as gamifying aspects of their loyalty programs by embedding contests, leaderboards, and other activities into the customer experience.

These kind of social media efforts serve to keep customers involved and thinking about your brand – in a good way – even when they aren’t actively shopping.

But the growing presence of your brand in their lives also means that customers can quickly see when your brand lets them down. Case in point: the doggie subscription business that inundated existing subscribers with ads clearly not meant for them.

From the customers’ perspective, if they’ve given you data on who they are – including their purchases, preferences, and personal information – you should at least use these insights to their benefit.

Customers today demand more individualized attention. Create a business model that engages these customers and manages your relationships in a way that puts them at the center of your business.

Customer-centric technology builds relationships

It’s possible that your company has long thought of ways to improve and build customer relationships, but doesn’t feel like it has the technology necessary to make any of your ideas a reality. Modern retail platforms make it possible to fold customer-centric initiatives right into your retail experience.

These advanced platforms empower you to take your current loyalty and marketing efforts to the next level. For example, if you have an influencer program, they let you offer rewards and commissions to your brand advocates and top influencers – without extensive coding or development.

Data is a central component of creating personalized experiences. Again, your ability to use this data is contingent on the technology at your disposal. Does your business have access to a centralized source of accurate information? Or are you making decisions based on outdated, siloed customer data that you need to retrieve from separate databases and solutions across your enterprise?

To create effective relationships with your customers, ensure you have the right tools in place. Only then will your brand be able to deliver the personalized offerings that keep customers coming back for more.

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Shayonie Mila Kundu

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