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The Clyde eCommerce Conversation (February 25)

The Clyde platform was created to meet the needs of eCommerce companies. To stay abreast of the latest trends and developments within the space, we’ve invested time and resources to remain well read on the subjects that matter most to our customers. Check in on this weekly “conversation” to read, watch and listen to stories that are shaping the eCommerce industry.

How Companies Build Loyalty, Membership and Registration Programs

Winning and retaining customers is the name of the game in eCommerce. Companies are achieving the “retaining” side of that equation in three separate ways. Here’s a look at the three main programs companies use to achieve their retention goals.

Loyalty

According to Accenture, more than 90% of companies  have some type of customer loyalty program. These programs have exploded in popularity because they’ve proven themselves to be the most effective tactic for increasing revenue and inspiring customer loyalty. From that same Accenture report, “as many as 84% of consumers say they’re more apt to stick with a brand that offers a loyalty program. And 66% of customers say the ability to earn rewards actually changes their spending behavior.”

So how can eCommerce merchants launch their own programs? Here are five assessment points that brands can grade their programs against:

Ease & enjoyment: How easy is to access the perks of the loyalty program and how much do customers enjoy said perks.

Overall satisfaction: Were the customers’ expectations fulfilled or exceeded? 

Customer support: Track the ease or difficulty of signing up for the program and how streamlined the experience of redeeming benefits was for customers. 

Trust: Survey customers to find out if they trusted the loyalty program, specially how they felt about sharing personal data.

Recommendation: Measure the likelihood of a customer recommending the program to friends and family.

Membership

Big-box retailers like Walmart have launched membership programs in the past two years and have experienced tremendous results. Walmart+ launched in September of 2020 as a direct response to Amazon Prime. The program costs $98 a year, or $12.95 on a monthly basis, and includes perks like fuel and prescription discounts, free delivery of grocery orders of $35 or more, and free shipping for online purchases.

As reported by CNBC’s Melissa Repko, “Walmart tapped Chris Cracchiolo, a veteran of American Express , to lead its membership program, and it has added automation  to dozens of stores to crank up capacity for online grocery orders, one of the program’s key perks.” The incentives vary throughout the year and currently extend to giveaways of air fryers and exercise bikes. These mini giveaways and sales are akin to Amazon’s “Prime Day,” just on a smaller scale. 

Mike Levin, a partner and co-founder of Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, believes that these programs achieve a simple and trackable goal : Those who sign up for membership programs buy more. 

Levin told CNBC this week that, similar to members of warehouse clubs like Costco  and Walmart-owned Sam’s Club, subscribers are “paying for the privilege” — creating another revenue stream for companies and an incentive for customers to go to stores and websites to get their money’s worth.

“They’re just there a lot more often,” he said. “That’s like a fantasy for retailers.”

Registration

When registration programs are executed properly, customers that buy products via third parties are presenting brands with vital information. An example would be a customer buying a vacuum cleaner via Amazon, but finding a QR code label on the vacuum itself and using it to register with the original vacuum manufacturer. 

Why is this important? 

Amazon used to give third-party sellers the names and addresses of all of their Amazon buyers. It wasn’t comprehensive consumer intel, but it was something. Then, in April 2021 , Amazon changed its policy, and they no longer automatically provide buyer information to sellers. This has become increasingly common among major third-party platforms.

Registration programs allow brands to turn the customer data spigot back on without breaking the bank. Labels and stickers are a cost effective option to provide customers with the option of sharing their personal information. From there, brands can choose a host of incentive options. Many companies use it as a way to eliminate paper waste by linking their QR codes to instruction manuals. For brands willing to spend a bit more, QR codes can be linked to giveaways, exclusive promotions, discounts and early-access to upgrades. And the beauty of the QR code itself is that brands can change the user-destination at any time. So a special holiday promotion can swapped for a discount code without changing the physical label or sticker. 

How Consumers And Retailers Can Reduce Returns

Americans return about 30% of their online purchases, costing retailers billions of dollars and creating mountains of environmental waste Gad Allon , a Wharton professor of operations, information and decisions, wants to change that.

The National Retail Federation cited online returns, which more than doubled from 2019 to 2020, as the main driver in the growth of returns. Each return erodes the profit margin of the item, especially if the retailer covers the cost of return shipping. Amazon, Walmart, and other big vendors can absorb those losses to some degree, Allon said, but small businesses simply cannot afford it.

Listen in to learn how Allon is working with companies and researching ways to improve the reverse supply chain.

eCommerce Boom Is All About Differentiating Online

Bloomreach Co-founder and CEO Raj De Datta joins Yahoo Finance Live's Julie Hyman and Brian Sozzi to discuss the state of eCommerce platforms and technology funding. De Datta also touches upon the macro factors impacting the current state of eCommerce. 

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