How you support customers is crucial in your store strategy.

Top 8 Retention Strategies for Retail

By Michael Spencer. 

With a rising recognition of the importance of customer loyalty, independent retailers are adopting mobile strategies to improve their customer experience. If the customer experience is everything, retention is the metric that really matters.

Improving retention rates of first-time shoppers is everything for a small to medium retail business. It’s no secret, loyal customers spend more and customer lifetime value increases in proportion to their brand engagement with your store.

For example, Bain & Company found:

In apparel, the average repeat customer spent 67 percent more in months 31-36 of his or her shopping relationship than in months zero to-six.

This means, getting the one-time shopper to come back is one of the critical touch points for independent retailers. Since, lifetime customer value is not just based on increased shopping frequency, but larger transactions, for customer loyalty to occur, it requires retention and for retention to occur it requires knowing how to engage your customers.

  1. Trust – Engagement
  2. Commitment – Retention
  3. Reciprocity – Loyalty

Boosting sales is more than just a numbers game, it’s also about the strength of your retail brand and your ability to build high-value relationships. As Millennial consumers crave more interactive and personalized experiences, retailers have to reinvent themselves.

Therefore, building customer trust, reciprocity and commitment is in today’s world, an omnichannel challenge for every retail brand. Independent retailers are however, uniquely positioned.

According to the RCC, Consumers maintain a deep connection with independent retailers, and spend 27% of each shopper’s dollar.

Retention Strategies for Independent Retailers

 1. Click and Collect

Offering your customers a way to browse your products online and pick them up in store is essential. It’s convenient and it suits the mobile shopper who may not have the time to browse your store and has already done the search on their smartphone. This is also sometimes referred to as click and brick.

C&C is great because it leverage online traffic, converting it to free in-store traffic that can lead to add-on or impulse purchases. For the consumer, the value is being able to try and touch product and not pay shipping costs.

2. Loyalty Rewards Program

The benefits of having a loyalty rewards program that is customized to your customer base, mobile friendly and offers convenient value are obvious and recommended.

If it can do SMS marketing and give your stores’ customer analytics leading to insights and things you can do to improve the customer journey that is ideal. The value of a loyalty rewards program that’s SMS friendly, means higher adoption rates the new consumer who is a mobile native.

3. Offering Mobile Payments & Digital Receipts

Offering the array of mobile wallet solutions, EMV and digital receipt options means you are adding value to the mobile shopper. Experimenting with mobile channels and engagement to boost retention is a good idea, for instance lures on Pokemon Go.

The value for consumers is choice to go digital, while contributing to a better check-out experience that’s positive for the environment.

 4. Create Events, Community & Attractive Visual & Video Branding

The modern consumer wants experiences that are valuable, not just products. Connecting your retail experience with rewarding experiences and events, especially those related to the local community, corporate social responsibility (good causes) and influencers related to your customers is a good idea.

Creating slick visual branding on Instagram, storytelling on Snapchat and useful boards on Pinterest and even real-time Facebook Live video streaming can do wonders for your retail brand’s first impression that can impact customer engagement and retention.

Creating a video YouTube channel, micro videos on Instagram and product videos on Facebook can help Millennials shoppers relate better to your brand.

5. Email & SMS Seasonal Campaigns

There are so many special days in the year for retailers to personalize their offers and promotions to their customers.

Having an effective Email strategy is still an effective ROI way to build relationships with your customers. Give your customers the choice to receive offers on SMS if they prefer. Seasonal campaigns means just the right amount of messages, when it matters most. The values for consumers is to know about your unique promotions at the right time.

6. Hold Contests, Challenges and Embark on User Generated Content

For independent brands, loyal customers are in many respects your brand advocates. Giving them loyalty benefits is not enough, asking them to share and create their own content in relation to your brand is even better peer to peer marketing.

Choose a branded #hashtag, promote the UGC campaign and see if a UGC contest can work for your brand to build engagement. The value to consumers is they value peer to peer brand advocacy over advertisements and crave more interactive experience on social media.

7. Free Product Giveaway on a Loyalty Points Accelerator Day

Pairing multiple goals in a given event is always a good idea. A free product giveaway to your loyal customers can boost up-selling while the added traffic can improve opt-in to your loyalty rewards program. The customer retention and engagement, not just the boost to sales is the key here.

Having a flexible loyalty rewards program that allows for a time-limited event where transaction earn more loyalty points, is an easy incentive to promote a new product and a more economic method of liquidating old stock instead of a high discount.

The value to free product giveaways for the consumer is a good reason to come back and visit your store, giving them a reason to opt-in to your loyalty program, so making it as easy as possible should be a priority.

8. Mobile Convenience

According to L2, inventory visibility of online stores is something physical stores can implement to relate better to mobile natives. Stores then become fulfillment centers, of a customer journey where the shopping experience climaxes.

App and loyalty integration and digital receipts streamlines the mobile experience of the store experience, since the majority of shoppers are using their smartphones while at the store itself.

Mobile convenience is a deal-breaker to the modern consumer. If the retail store is a destination in an experience, the omnichannel touch points make your brand relevant (or not) to the consumer.


While there is a wide variety of selling tactics independent Retailers can use, taking loyalty-marketing to the next level requires strategy, investment in actions and offering value and convenience at every step for their shoppers.

Michael Spencer is a freelance blogger, with over 500 articles on LinkedIn, where he writes about the future, retail and technology. Based in Montreal, in his spare time he writes poetry and is an outspoken advocate for women in technology.

Star Micronics subsidiary, Star Cloud Services was built to bring IoT solutions to retailers by enabling the more than six million Star Micronics POS printers in stores today to become cloud-connected devices. Star Cloud Services has the unique ability to transform shopping receipts into valuable digital transaction data. With that data, retailers gain deeper insights that help them better engage, activate and retain shoppers.


  • Modern Retail UK
    August 24, 2016

    Great article! I think to add to this as well, offering bigger rewards to your most loyal customers will make them feel like your store really values them! They’ll be more likely to keep using your brand knowing you realise their worth .

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