Read this week’s Let’s Talk Business column in The Emporia Gazette.
In many communities, ours included, the pandemic sparked a groundswell of support for small businesses. As the pandemic subsides, however, it is time to take stock.
Many customer trends have changed for good. Curbside pickup, e-commerce, and digital experiences are here to stay. It is unlikely, though, that customer loyalty for small businesses can maintain the high level it reached during the pandemic. That begs the question: how has customer loyalty changed?
While the pandemic upended daily life, it also created an environment for consumers to try new shopping behaviors. A McKinsey report found that 75% of consumers tried a new shopping behavior, from e-commerce to curbside pickup to shopping local. Customers actively sought convenience, value, and—especially in the case of Gen Z and millennial shoppers—brands that reflect their values. As consumers trade trusted brands for new ones, your business can capture higher market share by responding to these trends.
Covid fatigue is real, and it affects virtually everyone. Consumers are emotionally, psychologically, and physically tired from the drain of the pandemic on their daily lives. Consequently, customers simply want their shopping experiences to be convenient, simple, and satisfying. Rather than rewarding customers for frequent purchases, focus on building a deeper, more emotional, connection. Set up incentives to retain customers rather than simply motivate multiple purchases.
“Rewards that make buying things easier—free shipping, same-day delivery, order waiting, volume discounts—will be well-appreciated,” wrote Mastercard.
Ultimately, these types of incentives will keep a customer from switching to another brand.
At the end of the day, customers understand that business owners are facing many challenges, even as the pandemic subsides. Supply chain issues and an unpredictable economy will continue to make it difficult to “get back to normal”, whatever that looks like going forward. The more transparent you can be with your customers, the more likely they are to stay with you.
“Own up to marketing errors, product faults, and corporate missteps. Be up-front about out-of-stock items or extended delivery times and delayed shipments,” wrote MarketSource. “Assure your store policies are well-publicized and understood. Be forthcoming when it comes to your stance on social issues.”
Be transparent with your employees, too. They represent your brand each and every day. When your team members feel loyal to your business, they can pass that feeling along to your customers.
The deadline to sign up for the Chamber Blue of Kansas association health insurance plan interest survey is fast approaching. All survey participants will be given plan pricing. Pricing will be the same statewide. There is no obligation to accept the proposed rates. The first year is the best year to start this plan because Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas will not require health histories in Year One and you are guaranteed admittance.
Complete the form at https://emporiakschamber.org/chamber-blue-of-kansas-interest-survey-sign-up/ and register to receive the Chamber Blue interest survey, coming in August of 2022. Questions? Contact us here at the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce at 620-342-1600.
It’s a great day in Emporia!
“Let’s Talk Business” is a weekly column of the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce and Visit Emporia. The mission of the Chamber is to be proactive in creating an environment for business and community success, guided by the vision that positive attitudes promote positive actions. Contact us at 620-342-1600 or firstname.lastname@example.org and visit our website at www.emporiakschamber.org