Today, what Wired has called a “perfect storm of global issues” is creating some pretty big challenges for the global supply chain and any retailer looking to cultivate customer loyalty. This holiday season, retailers are finding themselves in a unique position: a record influx of orders are coming in, but it’s impossible to accurately predict how quickly those orders can be filled.
That said, no global supply challenge or shortage can overcome your customers’ expectations for on-time deliveries this time of year. Meaning that retail marketers shouldn’t shy away from creative, more personalized ways to grow revenue, encourage audience engagement, and cultivate increased customer loyalty over the course of the holiday season.
So, if you’re looking for a few expert tips to increase your odds of marketing success in another unprecedented holiday season, keep reading!
Communication is key for cultivating customer loyalty
When it comes to solving holiday season supply chain woes and cultivating customer loyalty, a marketers’ best strategy involves constant communication. This time of year, it’s important for retail marketers to remember that there’s no such thing as overcommunication.
For starters, retailers looking for ways to fully open the lines of communication with customers this holiday season should lean on direct marketing channels such as email, SMS, and mobile app push notifications to deliver timely and relevant updates to customers regarding delays or issues with their placed orders.
One example of a brand amping up its omnichannel communication while improving its customer experience is Target. The retail giant’s digital sales have increased over the course of 2021 due in large part to the retailer’s post-purchase messaging.
On every channel, Target’s post-purchase communication goes beyond an order confirmation to include any updates to delivery status or date — making any shopper more inclined to give a good review when Target asks for one in its next post-purchase series interaction.
With so much potential for longer-than-average wait times this holiday season, staying in touch even after orders are delayed is a smart solution for retailers hoping to maintain goodwill even during a supply chain crisis.
Plus, these personalized reminders give your brand the opportunity to push e-gift cards and other holiday gift ideas that can be instantly fulfilled — eliminating the uncertainty of shipping delays entirely. And that’s a huge advantage when it comes to improving the customer experience, encouraging audience engagement, and cultivating customer loyalty going forward.
Returns are critical for customer retention
Another big part of cultivating customer loyalty — even as the global supply chain crisis creates unforeseen challenges — is understanding that simplifying returns can make the wait for merchandise much more palatable to customers who may have been less than satisfied with how quickly their orders arrived.
Here are a few tips our team of retail experts recommends for ensuring that your post-return experience is just as engaging as path-to-purchase messaging:
- Segmentation matters: Segmenting audiences is important for personalizing every stage of the buyers’ journey, and that goes double for your returns. Use first-party data to segment transactional return request confirmations to tailor messaging for first-time purchasers, but also remember to segment your repeat customers in a way that acknowledges their loyalty status or the money they’ve saved over the years.
- Consider your CTA: It’s generally good practice to send a follow-up email to customers asking for a product review. But if a customer has already initiated a return request, taking a user out of product review flows is a smart way to ensure that you’re both building loyalty and focusing on the post-return experience without inviting negative feedback.
- Keep customers in the loop: While global supply chain issues have made delivery times a bit unpredictable, you can take the guesswork out of any return process with a triggered email, SMS message, or app notification letting customers know that their return has been received and their return is being processed.
- Don’t forget win-back messaging: One important, and often overlooked, way to improve the customer experience and build loyalty during the post-return experience is to use first-party data around customers’ reason for return to drive future personalization.
Don’t expect supply chain delays to stop after the holidays
As supply chain issues persist beyond the peaks of your holiday season, retailers will likely enter other key holiday shopping moments such as Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day needing creative solutions to overcome these challenges and cultivate customer loyalty.
And whatever your brand decides is the best course of action, marketers should consider metrics such as average order value (AOV) this holiday season to determine the success of any promotion. Bonus loyalty points and rewards, free gifts, and e-gift card offers are all easy and effective ways to grow revenue and customer loyalty in Q4 and beyond.
Back-in-stock notifications are another way to keep your lines of communication open — and your customers far away from shipping delays — this holiday season. In fact, children’s puzzle retailer Melissa & Doug has been one brand successfully keeping in contact with its audience even when supplies are low.
By delivering back-in-stock confirmation emails, in addition to confirming opt-ins for those back-in-stock notifications with personalized recommendations for similar items that are currently in stock, Melissa & Doug is able to keep items in stock to stay moving at the speed of its customers. And this seemingly simple tactic is already helping the brand cultivate customer loyalty like never before!