June 23, 2011, 11:28 AM

Take a first step to boost cross-channel traffic

A loyalty program that crosses all retail channels can spike holiday sales.

Lead Photo

Multichannel retailers have long recognized that customers who shop across more than one channel are more valuable than those who shop only at a retailer’s bricks-and-mortar stores or web site. But without a cross-channel loyalty program, such gains are often lost—particularly during the peak holiday shopping season, experts say.

A good first step toward a multichannel loyalty program is to

begin applying the store customer loyalty program across channels, says Sahir Anand, vice president and principal analyst for retail and banking at research and advisory firm Aberdeen Group, a unit of Harte-Hanks Inc.

Instead of making a plastic loyalty card only valid at a store’s point-of-sale system, retailers should extend rewards programs across channels to build stronger customer relationships, as well as to gather information about how customers shop on the web and through mobile phones. 

And bricks and mortar does not need to be the starting point, Anand says. A retailer could also start with its e-commerce site or even a social network presence to begin building stronger customer ties and loyalty programs, then extend them to other channels. “I don’t know why more retailers don’t have effective loyalty programs online and in contact centers as well as in stores,” he says.

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