Once an iPhone user, always an iPhone user - swears every iPhone user ever. Such is the loyalty that Apple Inc enjoys the world over.
There’s no better case study on brand loyalty than Steve Jobs’ Apple Inc. Brand loyalty is one of the most important factors that contribute to the success of any business. When your target customer feels an intense level of commitment to your brand or a product, that resonates with the way the shopper perceives a brand and their own set of values, it translates into repeat purchases, positive word-of-mouth recommendations, and a preference for your brand over others.
In today’s time, gaining brand loyalty for a D2C brand is of extreme importance and contributes significantly to its long-term growth. However, the question is, can D2C businesses build their brand identities just like Apple and draw customers back to their business?
Here’s why: Online businesses are facing competition like never before. In 2020, the Indian D2C market was valued at USD 33 billion. The market is expected to grow to USD 100 billion by 2025. Customers today are spoilt for choice with the number of businesses growing each day. In such a situation, D2C companies not only have to beat the competition but also recover high customer acquisition costs. It is more sustainable for businesses to build brand loyalty and attract existing customers to shop more.
Building brand loyalty takes time and effort and there are no shortcuts to building loyalty. You have to constantly ensure you give the best experience to your shoppers and connect with them on a level that keeps them coming back for more. Amid cutthroat competition, D2C businesses must look beyond loyalty programs and discounts. The key is in converting that casual shopper into a loyal customer and offering a positive shopping experience at all times. Other factors that determine brand loyalty are product quality, ease of purchase, brand identity, and customer service.
Rather than running loyalty programs, e-commerce businesses can keep it interesting for their customers by leveraging gamification. Gamification is a powerful tool that can help businesses keep their customers engaged and interested. Not only does this add a level of excitement but also makes the customer want to come back for more. For instance, the loyalty program is a maze. Every purchase is a clue or a way out that unlocks exclusive rewards.
Customers can help bring in more customers. To unlock this potential, e-commerce businesses can create communities to foster a sense of belonging. These days, shoppers want to come together and become a part of a larger than just a customer base for brands, they want to be a part of a community with those who are aligned with their perception of things. Providing such a platform for existing and new customers to interact can drive up sales. One of the most successful communities online today is that of people with curly hair and many other beauty brands. Large and small, such communities act as lead magnets and help scale businesses.
In the age of data analytics, e-commerce platforms must leverage data effectively to engage with customers. Based on a customer’s browsing history and past purchases, businesses can produce dynamic content and show product recommendations. Such personalized experiences help increase the chances of a customer returning by 80 percent, according to a report by Epsilon, a customer relationship management firm leveraging data.
Another effective way to ensure a positive shopping experience and build brand loyalty is by providing proactive assurance to the customer. Chatbots or AI-powered virtual assistants are a great way of tackling customer queries early on and providing a seamless experience. These days, automation is done in such a way that over 70 percent of the chatbot engages in a seamless conversation with the shoppers. The queries are also solved accurately and quickly, giving shoppers a sense of satisfaction, easing their anxiety, and in turn building loyalty. Brands should embrace the evolution of chatbots and integrate AI wherever they can to enhance brand loyalty among their shoppers.
Faster login and checkouts also ensure a quicker and smoother shopping experience. Offering multiple payment options such as credit/debit cards, net banking, UPI, and cash on delivery makes it easier for customers to choose the most convenient option for them. Such convenience makes customers shop again and again and convert into brand loyalists.
WhatsApp is a powerful tool for building brand loyalty as it gives you high visibility. By sending regular updates on orders, recommendations, and the latest offers via WhatsApp, brands can build on their recall value. In fact, leveraging WhatsApp commerce can significantly aid in building brand loyalty. By giving customers an option to discover products on WhatsApp itself including adding items to a cart, placing orders, making payments, tracking deliveries, and even chatting with agents to resolve issues, eCommerce brands can increase retention.
Customer feedback is supreme for building brand loyalty. D2C businesses must employ effective strategies to record and act upon customer feedback. Sending out feedback surveys immediately after purchase can help identify areas of improvement in the buying process and work on them promptly. This shows the customer that their opinions are valued by the brand and a valued customer is a happy customer. When you take their feedback into consideration and actively work on it, shoppers feel seen, heard, and considered. They feel your brand really values them which helps enhance their sense of loyalty in them.
With more and more D2C businesses entering the market, there is increased pressure on e-commerce businesses to stand apart from the competition. In a bid to beat the competition, many resorted to discounts and offers. However, offering heavy discounts to win customers over doesn’t help businesses in the long haul. Building a loyal customer base, on the other hand, can help D2C businesses grow more sustainably.
If a customer has a good experience, is reminded of the experience through interactive engagement, and gets the latest updates on offers and products, there’s a high chance they will return. There’s also a high chance they will evangelize the product/brand to other customers and increase organic reach. That's the power of brand loyalty.