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Loyalty programs rising as retailer priority

A new report notes a big divide between loyalty efforts and mobile marketing, however.

Customer loyalty is becoming a bigger focal point for retailers and is now a top priority for nearly half, according to a new Boston Retail Partners report.

The loyalty efforts are tops for 46 percent of retailers, and 62 percent of retailers are boosting this year’s budgets in response.

"One of the best ways to know the customer, reach the customer and deliver the right shopping experience is through a loyalty program," Ken Morris, a principal at Boston Retail Partners, said in an announcement.  "Offering customers exclusive perks, relevant incentives and personalized rewards encourages them to identify themselves while shopping and allows the retailer to further tailor the experience."

There is one big disconnect with loyalty efforts, however, and that’s the mobile marketing aspect, noted the study. Though nearly half, 47 percent, polled said they boosted mobile marketing spend this year, 73 percent said they didn't offer mobile access to the loyalty program. The good news is that more than half, 53 percent, plan to change that scenario within the next two years.

The report recommended that retailers strive to move "beyond the traditional" (such as points and rewards) to develop a unified commerce experience focused on reinforcing customer relationships.

Potential approaches included using gamification to engage customers and encourage social interaction, as well as real-time customer identification in-store to enable guided selling; customized rewards based on customer preferences; and mobile tracking and redemption of rewards.