One of the most important home-fashion trends has nothing to do with antiques or artwork – it’s the adoption by decorators of rewards programs to attract and keep loyal customers. The Internet has made loyalty programs a necessity because it has led to increased competition among sellers of merchandise like decorative items, even high-end items. The owner of an interior decorators Florida boutique expressed it this way: “You can’t buy at a discount website the same quality decorator items as the ones sold for full price at a trendy boutique – the cheap knockoffs just reek! The challenge is to get the shopper to put down the mouse and visit your retail location. A loyalty program that provides rewards for in-store purchases can be effective in driving customers back to brick-and-mortar retail locations.”
The key to the full exploitation of a loyalty program is data capture. By learning about the preferences and habits of each program member, a retailer is in a better position to compete for business. One of the best ways to gather this data is simply to ask. Many consumers who would not waste a second on an online survey are happy to converse with a store manager regarding their likes and dislikes. When this kind of information is added to a loyal customer’s profile, rewards and incentives can be micro-targeted to maximize their utility.
For instance, if a shopper tells you that she prefers shopping for mirrors in person because she can’t get a good mind-image from online websites, she could be rewarded with special discounts for mirrors and wall-hangings. For this kind of value to occur, the store salesperson must make sure to record the comments on the customer’s records.
Ideally, a loyalty program can become the conduit for a continued two-way conversation between a decorator and her customers. Feedback is a very important tool in finding out what motivates your customers and also what turns them off. For your part, frequent communication not only informs customers about the latest sales, events, promotions, etc., it also stimulates customer loyalty and repeat business. At best, you and your customers should consider each other partners in decorating. You can inform customers about the latest decor trends, provide them promotional incentives, and reward them with extra loyalty program points. In turn, they will come to rely on you to keep their home looking chic all the time. This is your advantage over discount websites – ignore it at your own peril!