In Blog Articles, Mobile Marketing Automation, Retail

Loyalty used to be the be-all and end-all for retailers. But today’s consumers are asking more from brands. Exclusive discounts and special offers aren’t always enough to keep customers coming back. So where are the smart retailers headed? We found a lot of clues in recent research and we’ve followed them step-by-step to some strong recommendations. Come with us as we track the future of the retail customer relationship.

Loyalty doesn’t mean what it used to.

As part of its 2016 Omnichannel Report, MasterCard took a hard look at loyalty, finding that the qualities that make shoppers sign up for loyalty problems are not the same qualities that drive repeat business.

MasterCard points to affinity as the key factor in driving repeat business—not loyalty. Affinity is defined as a higher level of trust in the brand and an emotional concept of personal value, built around relevance and resonance. David Rosen, writing for the TIBCO Software blog, tends to agree: “The realization that emotional (elated) relationships are not limited to a few fashion brands, luxury automobiles, and Apple, is leading to an expansion of how brands engage with their customers. Achieving this higher level of bliss has profound impact on customer value.”

How can retailers deliver on the need for deeper, more meaningful customer relationships?

Mobile technologies give retailers an unprecedented ability to create rich experiences that deliver on genuine customer needs, build trust and engagement, and go beyond transactions to generate real brand affinity.

Whether as a stand-alone loyalty program app or as complete mobile brand experience (we’d argue for the latter), a branded mobile app is the ideal platform for connecting with your most engaged customers—and truly delivering personalized value. TIBCO‘s David Rosen echoes this idea, saying “Rewarding with a compelling experience (no doubt) has a deeper and longer-term impact than [rewarding with a] discount or coupon.”

By harnessing location-based technologies like GPS and beacons, retail mobile apps can recognize who and where customers are in their stores and in the wider world. This visibility empowers retailers to personalize their engagement, optimize in-store experiences and deliver previously impossible benefits.

For example, a retail mobile app with location-enabled features can identify customers when they enter the store—enabling staff to personalize their interaction and triggering personalized greetings and special offers on the customers’ smartphones. According to the Boston Retail Partners special report, 53% of retailers plan to implement this capability within the next five years. Yet the technology to do it now—and do it easily and cost-effectively—already exists.

Download our eBook to learn more about how retailers can make the most out of location marketing to drive foot traffic, influence shopping behavior and ultimately generate more sales.


These gaps between what customers want and what apps can currently deliver represent key opportunities for retailers to differentiate themselves and build genuine trust and affinity. The smart retailers will close these gaps ASAP.

“When executed appropriately, real-time personalization provides retailers the ability to deliver a better brand experience, which encourages ongoing customer engagement, sustainable loyalty, and sales uplift.”
—Boston Retail Partners, “Loyalty Programs—Rewarding the Customer Experience”

Next-generation retail apps take loyalty to the next level.

The majority of North American retailers are making mobile a top priority for 2016. Yet, according to the Boston Retail Partners special report, 73% of retailers did not offer mobile access to the features of their loyalty programs. 56% of retailers said they planned to take their loyalty programs mobile within the next 5 years. That’s moving in the right direction, but perhaps not quickly enough.

Watch our on-demand webinar to learn more about how embracing mobile in a new way can help brick-and-mortar retailers become more effective and change the game.


We’ll be watching the evolution of loyalty and the intersection of loyalty programs with mobility. Stay tuned for more!

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