The global COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a ‘new normal’ for business and no less so in retail, where many operators are having to adapt their approach to November’s acclaimed Black Friday and December’s bumper festive season. Loyalty programmes are crucial as businesses cater to the needs of a new kind of shopper, one who is quite prepared to explore new channels, more specifically digital.

In November, the multitudes of bargain hunters rushing to stores to score the very best Black Friday deals are generally no longer expected. This year will not be characterised by the usually anticipated long queues, hordes of shoppers and feverish physical transactions during this time.

Through fear the pandemic and lockdown restrictions could have all but eliminated the Black Friday frenzy, retailers are falling back on digital to uphold the traditional bustling shopping spree. They are directing resources online, hoping to attract not only the usual e-commerce enthusiasts, but those who may – because of current circumstances – explore other avenues to grab hot deals.

While 2020 is a different time altogether and the year-end festive trade is generally considered by most retailers as a massive opportunity. It is a time to capitalise on the commercial opportunity linked to gift-giving, decorations, groceries and much more.

LoyaltyPlus agrees that in 2020 it is definitely not going to be ‘business as usual’. In the new COVID environment people are trying out new suppliers, particularly those with a good online experience, thus, retailers need to work hard to retain customers through personalisation.

As it is, if retailers are a bricks-and-mortar outlet, providing an omni-channel experience, like ordering online or picking items up in store, is increasingly important.

LoyaltyPlus is a leading independent customer relationship management company. It has over 25 years of experience in the development and application of cutting-edge programmes and partnerships – and its leadership in helping businesses ensure their customers remain loyal to their brands while optimising all touchpoints and customer experiences.

The sentiment that they believe is now dominating retail, both within brick-and-mortar as well as digital, is that loyalty programmes will be instrumental in attracting consumers – not just to engage with casual shoppers, but also possibly establish the foundations of long-lasting relationships.

As marketingweek.com explains, retail outlets will be competing with their digital counterparts who are exploiting social media, social networks, and a range of other digital avenues at their disposal to grab the attention of the shopper.

Experts also advise businesses, as they attempt to take advantage of the consumer rush, to implement loyalty programmes – and relevant marketing strategies, timeously.

Marketing plays a significant role.  Retailers are forced to centralise and renew their focus on sales strategies, product placement, their methods of engagement and interaction with customers as consumer spending bends to the current tight economic environment.

Spending patterns and behaviour is different and will continue to be so. Retailers will be aware of this and the advice from experts is that they roll out the proverbial red carpet in terms of loyalty programmes.  These are still extremely relevant and, irrespective of COVID (and if strategically implemented) still promise tangible benefits for the business – and the consumer.

As Annexcloud.com puts it, the benefits include increase in revenue, money saving, assimilation of data, reward or recognise the consumer and make them feel good, a yardstick to evaluate the strength of loyalty, and, of course, attract new customers.

LoyaltyPlus underlines the role of loyalty programmes and structured marketing campaigns during this unprecedented year.

The customer retention and loyalty specialist company says it is crucial for all businesses to understand that loyalty programmes, while they are designed to retain and reward customers, also play a key role in shaping customer behaviour.

To this end, it is important that business owners keep up with loyalty trends in the market and the influence of loyalty programmes. Doing so will help them tailor products and services to the specific needs of consumers.