7 Strategies for Cultivating Retail Customer Loyalty This Holiday Season
With the holiday season upon us, it’s the perfect time to engage your customers with special holiday offerings—from events and promotions to gift guides and sales. Want to help your business stay at the top of your customers’ minds this December?
We’ve gathered our best ideas and tips below to help your business shine its brightest as we approach the New Year.
1. Make holiday shopping easy & painless for your customers
The holiday rush can be stressful, so making the customer experience as streamlined as possible can go a long way. To better manage holiday crowds, you could consider having a separate line for to-go or pickup orders, or you could encourage customers to shop your store online and pick up in person if they want to avoid lines altogether.
Next, be sure to curate your in-store experience in a way that makes it easy for your customers to find gifts for everyone on their list. Holiday gift guides and staff picks are always helpful for helping customers choose the perfect gift for their loved ones, or you could put together special holiday gift sets with a sampling of store favorites. You may also want to consider having special sections by price (e.g. Items under $50) or by gift recipient (e.g. For Dads) to make it simple for your customers to find what they are looking for quickly. It’s also a good idea to keep a selection of fun gifts and stocking stuffers close to the register for last-minute purchases. As an added bonus, you could offer free gift wrap with purchases to save your valuable customers time and money.
If your business offers gift cards, the holidays are the perfect time to promote them, as they make a great option for loved ones who are hard to shop for. Make sure to put your gift cards up front and center at checkout and/or promote them with postcards on dining tables or takeout bags. You could even consider offering a gift card special, like “Purchase a $20 gift card to get 10% off your next purchase” to reward your loyal customers.
2. Ensure your in-store experience offers something for the whole family
The holiday season is a family affair, so it’s important to dream up an in-store experience that includes something for everyone to enjoy. That could mean a holiday-themed play area for kids to explore or something as simple as free cups of hot cocoa with a parent’s purchase. Don’t forget to include lots of festive decorations to get people in the spirit of the season — from wreaths and garlands to holiday lights and poinsettias.
For a fun activity, consider putting a holiday-themed background in a corner of your store that customers can take selfies or family photos in front of. Be sure to include fun accessories like Santa hats, reindeer antlers, mistletoe, and the like, so customers can make it their own. Most importantly, don’t forget to include your business’ branding on the background so you can gain visibility and draw in new customers when the photos are shared to social media. If you’re short for time, you could instead partner with a local photographer to shoot holiday photos of families, kids, and/or pets at your business. It’s a great way to bring people through the doors in December and hopefully, they’ll make purchases while they’re there.
For another festive, family-friendly activity, consider setting up a crafting station at your business where families can decorate ornaments, make snowflakes, or create greeting cards for their loved ones. For something easy, you could try a kids’ coloring station with printed holiday patterns they can color in while their parents shop or eat. Overall, your goal should be to create a warm, cozy in-store experience that inspires customers to make your establishment part of their holiday traditions each year.
3. Use holiday sales & specials to get more customers through the door
Customers have grown accustomed to retailers and restaurants offering sales, promotions, and specials throughout the holiday season, so think about the best way to bring that concept into your business to entice more customers to visit. Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling:
- Sales: Offer a storewide sale with the % discount of your choice (e.g. 20% off) or provide holiday discounts on specific product categories (e.g. 25% off all baking supplies)
- Specials: Create limited edition menu items that put a unique spin on favorite holiday flavors (e.g. egg nog or peppermint lattes)
- Promotions: Using Spark Loyalty, you could offer a double-punch week to entice more customers through the door, while rewarding your loyal returning shoppers this holiday season.
No matter what strategy you choose, don’t forget to leverage Spark Loyalty to personalize holiday greetings when each customer visits, e.g. “Season’s Greetings, Meg!” or “Happy Holidays, Ted.” Family specials like buy 4, get 1 free never hurt either.
4. Keep your business top of mind by proactively communicating with customers
Ramping up customer communications during the busy holiday season is a great way to ensure that your business stays top of mind. Using Spark Loyalty, you can communicate with your customers via text and email to announce holiday sales and promotions, special events, festive new menu items or products, or to keep customers informed of your holiday hours.
You can also encourage your customers to download the Spark Loyalty app where they can easily track their loyalty points and have access to a digital punch card that they’ll never lose. Once they’ve downloaded the app, you’ll gain the opportunity to reach out via push notifications sent directly to their mobile phone. By maximizing the number of touch points you have for reaching your customers, you’re more likely to engage them wherever they roam—from home to the office or on-the-go.
5. Use festive language and holiday-themed imagery
Whether you choose to send out emails, texts, or push notifications, make sure to leverage holiday-themed language, colors, and imagery in your customer communications to evoke the spirit of the season. We’ve included some ideas below as a jumping off point, but feel free to get creative!
Words: Cozy, Warm, Bright, Sparkle, Merry, Shine, Season’s Greetings, Joy, Rejoice, Peace, Celebrate, Gather
Colors: Red, Green, Gold, Silver, White
Patterns: Stars, Candy Cane Stripes, Trees
Imagery: Snowflakes, Christmas Trees, Santa, Holiday Lights
Emojis (for texts): Snowman, Snowflake, Christmas Tree, Santa, Menorah
Although you may want to, resist the urge to send longer messages during the holiday rush, as customers may not have the time to read them. Instead, keep things simple, brief, and quick to read. For a nice touch, personalize your communications by addressing your customers by name.
6. Connect with customers through your own holiday traditions
Is there a particular part of the holiday season that you love most? Do you have any special holiday family traditions, decorations, or must-eat foods? Considering sharing these with your customers, as it’s a great way to build authentic connections and showcase what makes you unique.
Provide customers with a window into your own family’s holiday traditions by offering your favorite dishes and treats, selling special ornaments and other products that represent your culture, displaying unique holiday décor or photos of celebrations where you’re from, pictures from past holidays, and more. It’s the perfect way to build those warm and fuzzy feelings with your customers and perhaps you’ll inspire them to adopt some new holiday traditions of their own along the way.
7. Spotlight how you’re giving back this holiday season & invite customers to join in
If giving back to your community and showing customers that you care is a part of your business’ mission, why not provide them with an opportunity to give back too? Here are some ideas to help you get started:
- Host a Toys for Tots Drive and/or sign up to be a drop-off location for donated toys
- Support your local food bank by providing a box where customers can donate canned and shelf-stable foods to feed hungry families this holiday season
- Consider donating a portion of your profits during a set holiday period (e.g. 12/10-12/20) to support nearby schools, the local Humane Society, or other community causes you care about
- Hold a holiday raffle for a $50 gift card to your business, with the cost of every raffle ticket benefitting the cause of your choice
If you want to support multiple causes, you could set out multiple jars with each benefitting a different charity. Then, provide customers with a token with every purchase that they can drop in the jar associated with the cause they most want to support. No matter what approach you choose, be sure to announce your giving efforts via text, email, push notifications, or flyers to encourage customer participation, increase foot traffic, and spread goodwill among your community.
We hope these ideas provide you with a solid jumping off point, inspiring you to get creative about how to bring more customers through your door this holiday season. Of course, you know your unique audience best, so feel free to think outside of the box for the best ways to connect and build community as we near the end of 2022. Wishing you and your business a successful holiday season and spectacular new year!