Retailers urged to ensure loyalty is the lasting legacy of Black Friday

By Achille Traore, CEO, White Label Loyalty, the loyalty specialist

Traore: retention and cultivating customer loyalty is the name of the game this year

We’re on the countdown to Black Friday 2021 – an event that has become one of the defining moments in the UK retail calendar and this year, it’s more important than ever.

This is because the retail cycle has been skewed on account of the pandemic and we’re seeing major issues in the supply chain that is likely to simultaneously reduce the number of goods on offer and increase demand as consumers stock up for Christmas. One thing is for certain, that in a time of squeezed household budgets post-pandemic, people will be looking for the best offer they can get.

A race to the bottom

But that is exactly what Black Friday has become – a race to the bottom regarding who can offer the biggest discount. As a single-shot tactic for customer acquisition, it’s one of the best around but any work and investment made by brands are quickly lost if they don’t have a retention strategy in place. And this year, retention and cultivating customer loyalty is the name of the game for brands looking to acquire long-term customers off the back of an elongated period of unreliable revenues.

For example, look no further than Groupon. It is not as big as it was when it first came out because businesses realised that while they can acquire new customers through such drastic discount channels, customers gained in this manner are extremely difficult to retain.

Endless options in an omnichannel era

On the contrary, this is exactly the period when businesses should be looking to go the extra mile when it comes to customer acquisition. This sales period is a time when customers are adventurous and happy to try new products and brands, making it an ideal time to spark enrollment. But simply offering big discounts is not enough. Businesses need to think more about the lifetime value of the customer.

To stand out from the crowd and encourage new customers to remain loyal long after the event, brands need to look to other complimentary offers. This includes things like loyalty programmes, additional perks, and personalised experiences and in an era of omnichannel, the options are almost endless.

Turning bargain-hunters into loyal customers

In this day and age, there is no excuse for not personalising communication instantly while follow-up messaging is also crucial in the post-purchase stage. User-referrals too are key. The biggest mistake a brand can make is over-promising and under-delivering as any fault in customer service will be broadcast on the internet by customers loud and clear. 

As the world has been accelerated into digital over the course of the last 18 months, any friction in the exchange will not be welcome. Customers today demand speed and simplicity, often getting frustrated with any perceived delay or clunky function. This means one-click sign-up or checkout. Welcome gifts and re-purchase incentives can also be a great tool. It’s something Virgin Wines does incredibly well on a year-round basis and it has just announced a huge revenue jump in a ‘milestone year’.

A two-way street

Loyalty is a two-way street and enticing customers with low prices is just the start. If brands can keep customers – old and new – by offering tailored loyalty programmes and content, it’s much more likely those customers will remain loyal too. This means brands must ensure their user experience is faultless and work overtime to cultivate customer loyalty to build retention that will last long after the Black Friday rush has passed. 

For brands looking to 2022 and beyond, it is the customer loyalty cultivated now that will propel their businesses forward. That’s why it simply has to be the lasting legacy of this year’s peak sales period.