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Boosting customer loyalty during a pandemic

Struggling high street

Consumer behaviours have been forced to change amid the COVID-19 pandemic with more market segments now embracing online channels. The gradual phased release of lockdown controls also failed to bring the increase in footfall that the high street so badly needed. Instead the recovery will be slow and it will be down to individual retailers to win their customers back if shopping habits are to be reversed.

But there is reason to stay positive. Bricks and mortar retail has distinct advantages over e-commerce. People will always be drawn to speak to real people, to see a product in the flesh and to get a customer experience that is personal to them. High street retailers will continue to evolve to meet the online retail challenge – think in-store customer personalisation and virtual changing rooms – but customer experience is going to matter even more than ever.

Pendulum Menswear uses golf to keep customers loyal

In the midst of the pandemic, retailers have found ever more creative ways to boost customer advocacy and loyalty. Already facing considerable pressure to compete and bring regular footfall to stores, COVID-19 amplified this significantly.

During the lockdown, independent retail chain Pendulum Menswear, saw an opportunity to stay in touch with its regular customers by hosting them on the grounds of some of the country’s best golf clubs.

Golf was one of the first sports deemed safe to play back on 13 May as it is easy to socially distance. It took the decision to invest in a corporate golf membership to boost customer loyalty and to ensure that its brand and reputation did not suffer whilst trade was down.

With its four stores in the south of England closed at the height of the lockdown restrictions, the retailer it needed a flexible membership. Unlike other memberships, PlayMoreGolf works on a point’s basis meaning that you only pay when you play – halving the price of a standard corporate club membership.

Even now, the retailer can only open two to three days of the week so whilst trade is down the PlayMoreGolf membership gives it the flexibility that it needs. The retailer’s golf days have received such high demand that Pendulum Menswear will continue to offer them well after the pandemic. The result is a personal customer experience that fosters strong brand loyalty during a tough time for all.

Hosting corporate days is a trend that PlayMoreGolf is seeing more and more. The company has experienced a significant uptake in corporate members with a 300% growth on the previous half of 2020 welcoming more new corporate members in one month as the whole of 2019.

Top tips for boosting customer loyalty in a pandemic:

  1. Invest in customer engagement initiatives Customers are more likely to repeatedly buy from you if they feel that you’re prioritising their happiness, and at no other time is this more important than right now. Customers are loyal to your brand if they value the traits of your company, the quality of your service and other aspects such as access to products and cost. Now is the time to amplify customer engagement initiatives, with consistency being key. It could be as simple as a social media post to check in with followers, to a socially distanced event, exclusive shopping hours or a personalised message thanking customers for their purchases during such trying times.

  2. Listen to your customer’s current needs Take this opportunity to do some market research with your customers; what is it they want to see more of when you’re able to trade as normal, what would make them feel safer when visiting your store? When consumer budgets are tight and confidence to spend is low it’s more important than ever to retain existing customers. Ensure that you are listening to your customer needs and adjust your business around them.

  3. Support buying local COVID-19 has highlighted just how important local communities are to our health and welfare. This has increased the focus on supporting local businesses and economies. Highlight to your customers how shopping with you will, in turn, put money back into the local community. Perhaps you could also highlight how much of your produce is stocked from local suppliers, designers and trades people?

  4. Keep abreast of trending products The change in people’s circumstances as more and more are staying at home has pushed certain products and services to become unexpected bestsellers. Keep an eye out for trends and boost their visibility, whether that’s with SEO or in your shop window.

  5. Reward loyal customers For a large retailer, that may be finally investing in that customer loyalty programme to promote special in-store offers. Or for independent retailers similar to Pendulum Menswear, find ways to engage in safe methods of giving something back to your customers. They’ll be sure to remember your brand for helping them during a tough period.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by PlayMoreGolf .

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