8 Retail Experts Offer Their Top Tip on Building Brand Loyalty

Retail experts, brand loyalty | Shopify Retail blog

Earning your core customer’s loyalty is the bread and butter of any business, whether you own a local coffee shop or an enterprise software company.

But what is brand loyalty and what can it do for you? A report from marketing consultancy Rare found consumers say loyalty is primarily driven by likeability (86%) and trust (83%). Customers who are loyal to your brand tend to spend more, spread the word, stick by your side when you need them, and come back often.

You work tirelessly to find the best formula to ensure repeat customers, why not take a moment and get advice from some of the best in the retail biz? Below are the words of retail advisors, speakers, writers, and practitioners.

So make yourself comfortable, and let’s dig in.

1. Be Transparent

“In today's retail landscape with the customer as CEO and Brand Manager, retailers and brands can build loyalty with transparency (product and price) and being authentic. Transparency extends beyond product life cycle to include how companies operate in terms of social responsibility and being great corporate citizens.

Pricing should be clear and consistent across all channels with transparent price matching policies. A great example company is Bass Pro Shops. A few companies go beyond the basics of price transparency to include visible costing information which shows how retail price is determined. A great example is Everlane.

Authentic branding is critical not just for today's customer but will become even more important with Gen Z. Being authentic in terms of branding, communications, store design, policies, and the all-important two-way conversation with shoppers. A great example is REI.”

Shelley E. Kohan, VP Retail Consulting RetailNext, and Professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology

2. Focus on Your Best Customers

"Understand your target consumer. Who they are, what’s important to them, and how they want to be spoken to so that you can choose the right channel or medium (social media, TV, print, radio) to reach them.

To do this you need to listen to what your customers are saying, and understand what makes them tick. Understand their needs and listen closely to their likes, dislikes, and the things that frustrate them.

Know what their driving forces are and what your brand can do to help satisfy their needs.”

Farla Efros, President, HRC Advisory

3. Take a Look in the Mirror

"Consumers can easily get distracted from staying loyal to a brand nowadays since the competition is tough... and consistently present. To help strengthen your customer loyalty, consider why a customer would want to be loyal to your brand in the first place.

Is it because you offer a stellar customer experience that they can't get anywhere else? Is it because your product assortment is unlike any other and one they can't refuse? Or is it a combination of experiences, products and customer service that lead your consumers back again and again?

Determine why your customers should be loyal, then identify the factors that may influence them to shop with other brands or businesses. Taking a stern look in the mirror at your business can help you improve customer loyalty by facing your weaknesses, understanding your strengths and aiming to improve upon your customer relationships year round."

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, Founder and Publisher of Retailed Minded

4. R-E-S-P-E-C-T

“To build brand loyalty, have respect for the consumer's time and money. Make them feel valued by making the entire purchase experience convenient, not to mention cost effective. If the consumer feels valued by a brand, they're more likely to come back. I've seen so many companies use the "if we have it, they will come" mentality, but as retail competition increases and stores have the same brands, retailers will need to differentiate by offering something better than the competition.”

Craig Patterson, Editor-in-Chief, Retailer Insider

5. Make an Emotional Connection

“Consistently refining and evolving your emotionally connected, branded point of difference is essential to building brand loyalty. Loyalty is not built on convenience and price, it is built on a unique and connected purpose communicated in relevance to its core customer.”

Brian Walker, CEO of Retail Doctor Group

6. Be in the Right Place at the Right Time

“Retailers who want to offer best-in-class brand loyalty omni-channel programs need to offer customers seamless one-to-one personalized messaging that knows who the customer is and where they are in their purchase journey through mobile, in-store (retail, wholesale, factory store), and social (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, “what’s hot next”) touch points.

Brands need to be prepared to speak with customers wherever and whenever the customer engages. Retail organizations need to move past the legacy one-dimensional loyalty point experience of spending money to get points and create emotional experiences for consumers that deliver value to maintain their loyalty.”

Michael W. Brodesky, Retail Consultant

7. Solve a Problem

“The experiences we, as Neiman Marcus, deliver through technology need to solve a real problem for our customers. It's easy to continue to create and build on technology just because it is new and interesting, but to build brand loyalty, we want the customer to feel that we are solving issues to make their shopping experience seamless. Real innovation delivers an enhanced understanding so the customer will keep coming back for more!”

Scott Emmons, Head of Innovation Lab, Neiman Marcus

8. Get into a Committed Relationship

"Consumers make buying choices based primarily on their emotional responses to products. So, if you want to build brand loyalty with your customers, it’s critical that you foster positive emotional connections with them from the outset. But how can you emotionally connect with them? First, make sure you know who your target audience is. Second, determine what your company stands for and how that can be translated into emotional connections. Third, when communicating to them, create stories that evoke your core values, beliefs and the personality of your brand.

Emotion is a basic human instinct and a good tool for you to use to create brand loyalty. It's almost like a committed relationship between you and your customers; as long as you deliver a positive experience to them, brand loyalty should remain."

Melissa Campanelli, Editor-in-Chief, Total Retail

Feeling inspired?

What will you do to start building brand loyalty? Share your own thoughts and advice in the comments below.