In the ’90s, during the “heyday of the mall as a cultural symbol and a commercial powerhouse,” an adolescent’s identity was often intimately tied to where they spent their time and money in the shopping center. Local teens hanging out at malls, purchasing high-end items, became the ultimate brand ambassadors for retailers: loyal, passionate, and unpaid. Here’s what malls did: retailers monetized consumers’ desire to be part of the brand, and consumers reveled in the shopping experience the retailers provided.
Malls are no longer a cultural force in the US. “Economic downturn, the rise of internet commerce, and the decline of the suburbs—even just the opening of newer malls, which cannibalize older ones,” are some reasons why malls are shutting down in droves. With retailers increasingly pivoting to digital due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the question of how to foster the next generation of loyal and passionate customers without malls and the ‘real-life’ communities of unpaid brand ambassadors looms large.
Online retailers are doling out retail memberships to drive revenue by creating the next generation of ardent fans in the digital sphere. Research shows that loyal customers contribute to a 22% increase in cross-sell revenue and a 13–51% increase in up-sell revenue. Sephora’s loyalty program, which has 17 million members in North America, contributes to 80% of the company’s sales.
Amazon Prime, a hugely popular premier retail membership program, charges customers $12.99 a month in exchange for free one-day and two-day shipping on millions of items and includes other benefits. A recent poll found that Amazon Prime members spend “an average of 1,400 US dollars on the online shopping platform every year, compared to 600 US dollars spending of non-Prime members.” The Amazon Prime case study illustrates that successful retail membership programs “boost engagement, increase retention, and encourage brand advocacy.”
What makes some paid retail membership programs more successful than others? According to McKinsey, high engagement levels are a clear indicator of a successful retail membership program: “good paid programs have a continuous flywheel of interaction that elevates the program’s value” by turning prospects into customers and then ultimately promoters. A smooth onboarding process is instrumental in keeping the flywheel spinning even faster.
Retailers must obtain a consumer’s personal information such as name, telephone number, email, and home address to administer a successful program and create targeted marketing campaigns. However, with every additional piece of information requested, a consumer becomes more impatient and may even abandon the procedure. A study by Annex Cloud shows that 70% of consumers abandon loyalty program sign-ups due to the tedious nature of the process.
Prove’s Pre-Fill™ onboards customers quickly and painlessly by leveraging Phone-Centric Identity™ techniques that auto-populate forms with personal information from verified data sources. Customers simply need to confirm the fetched data. Pre-fill significantly reduces keystrokes required to fill out a form and thwarts identity fraud by stopping bad actors from entering fraudulent information into the forms.
Consumers are spoilt for choice on e-commerce platforms, making it more challenging for retailers to inspire brand loyalty. Paid membership programs, however, are one way retailers are trying to retain repeat customers. High engagement rates, which can be achieved through great incentives and a seamless onboarding process, are crucial to a thriving paid membership program.
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