December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

A lot of fish are swimming by the lure; it`s up to merchants to get them to bite

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Incentive and rewards programs have proliferated in every industry serving consumers. They will, most certainly, become an integral part of doing business online. What Internet retailers have that others do not is the perfect technology driven vehicle for building long-term, one-to-one relationships with consumers. Incentives and rewards will only enhance that relationship.

Setting the hook

- Incentives and rewards must have real value to the customer.

- Programs must be constantly updated and improved to reflect the customer’s changing buying patterns.

- Best customers are recognized and rewarded for their importance and value to the company.

- Customer communication must be clear, timely and frequent.

- Measure and evaluate everything such as frequency of purchases, monetary value of purchases, categories of merchandise and how incentives impact sales.

- Offer additional incentives for good customers who haven’t bought anything for awhile.

- Reward your customers for filling out surveys, even for registering on your site.

- Pay attention to what carrots competitors are dangling.

- Offer different levels of participation for customers such as silver, gold and platinum.

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