How to Foster Loyalty in a Competitive Retail Space

supermarket, shopping, grocery

With the ever-increasing amount of shopping options – from local grocers to whole and organic nutrition vendors and widespread grocery chains – growing customer loyalty is more important than ever for those in the retail food space.

Between consumers being more careful when making decisions to spend their money and with self-checkout rising to 40% of grocery checkout options, brands must do everything they can to stand out from the competition.

With brand trust being an essential factor in consumer decision-making, proving to consumers that they’ll have a quality shopping experience and that they can trust your brand is a solid way to remain the top choice for your target audience and to retain loyal customers. If trust is lost, customers are less likely to give you the benefit of the doubt and more likely to be critical – and in the modern digital world, a negative perspective can quickly be shared far and wide.

Consumer expectations are also constantly changing, so keeping a finger on the pulse of those expectations is vital to building a positive brand reputation and growing customer loyalty.

Keys to Growing Customer Loyalty

To encourage consumers to commit to your service, your brand must be worthy of trust. When customers don’t trust a brand or have been let down by it too many times, they’ll start looking for other brands that demonstrate the authenticity they desire.

To gain consumers’ trust, brands must be transparent, open, and honest with them. Creating ways to engage with your customers is great for showing full transparency. For example, invite customers and followers along for an exclusive virtual tour of new products or offerings through your social media platforms, or invite them to shadow your company’s store manager for a “day in the life.”

Consistency is another key to growing customer loyalty. Consumer confidence increases when consistent results are produced; therefore, it’s critical to ensure that customers recognize the delivery of your brand’s promises. This requires proactively shaping your key messages and communications throughout the customer journey – if there’s a supply issue, don’t hold back on disclosing that to customers; instead, offer an alternative and provide updates as often as possible.

Customers will feel more loyal to brands that respond and resolve their complaints versus leaving their concerns unanswered.

Retention Tips

To grow the trust and loyalty of new and existing customers, the goal should be to provide the best possible experience from the moment they first land on your website or enter your place of business, to after their purchase. No two customer experiences are the same and, while some businesses capture brand intent in their advertising, many ignore it in delivering customer service – and helping customers along every step of their journey shows them that you truly care about them.

Customer service can make all the difference between retaining customers or losing them after one experience with your brand. Consider: according to Zippia, 91% of customers said they’d be willing to switch companies after just one bad experience.

Two ways to help your team provide a great customer experience include implementing ongoing training opportunities and clarifying key messages for your employees. Encourage your employees to engage with customers as they check out, especially in our digital world, with self-checkout consistently rising in popularity.

Extra Effort Matters

By encouraging your employees to go the extra mile, your brand will provide guests with small, meaningful interactions that will leave a great impression. From offering to grab an item off of the top shelf to helping take items out to a customer’s car, even small added actions by your employees can enhance the customer service experience.

Consistent and quality customer service is key to setting a precedence for loyalty from a customer while some of the competition lets the digital shopping experience slowly take over.

Building customer trust is relationship building. The same as with any relationship, it takes time, consistency, and effort to establish trust.

When trust is established, all of the strategies and tactics used to build it must stay in place and grow to keep a loyal customer relationship going. In doing so, brands will surely see more loyal customers willing to share their experience – further growing your customer base and boosting sales.

Editor’s note: Christena Garduno is CEO of Media Culture, a multichannel brand response media agency that drives growth for global clients with performance-driven media campaigns. Christena spent her career building the company from the ground up, leading with forward-thinking vision for the agency. She has led the agency through expedited growth and is pilotting the path to unwavering success. She is a member of Forbes Agency Council and the recipient of an Echo Award for her work with Turbo Tax.

The Food Institute Podcast

Convenience stores often get a bad rap for lackluster foodservice options, but the category has expanded to include better foodservice options in the past few years. Circana SVP of Retail Client Solutions Scott Love joined The Food Institute Podcast to explore how C-stores are utilizing data more than ever before, and how the industry is adapting to changing consumer habits amid inflationary pressures.