Customers increasingly are interacting with brands across channels – from store to web and across social and mobile platforms. In 2014, this became the social shopping norm. Shoppers are buying online, picking up in store, or buying online and demanding free shipping to home. Alternately, they are shopping in store, and then ordering customized sizes, shapes and colors for delivery to home, and the list of permutations will continue to evolve.

Brands looking to differentiate themselves with customers will invest in “recognizing” or knowing shoppers across platforms and routes to market, and then will provide individualized, customized messaging and content through each. Very few smaller or medium sized businesses have achieved this “state,” but the ones that have invested are seeing reduced cost of inventory, reduced out-of-stocks, and increased ability to forecast, target and promote products to specific consumer segments.

According to Harvard Business Review, companies can boost profits by almost 100% by retaining just 5% more of their customers. And with this in fact in mind, Competiscan began researching companies to spotlight in their Best Practices in Loyalty Trend Report, where they found several ways that small to medium-sized business can learn from global brands:

Short-term offers trigger customer engagement and retention
Limited-time coupons offering specific deals or percentages off a total order are frequently leveraged to trigger consideration and engagement, especially with low engagement products.

Reward programs are a powerful tool

When leveraged properly, reward programs build strong retention. For example, The Street reports that loyalty program members account for 35% of transactions at Starbucks.

Personalization works

Consumers seek to engage with companies that understand their needs, desires and values. Personalized messages and a niche-oriented focus are a few ways personalization can be leveraged.

A top priority for marketers will be to connect the dots – breaking down internal organizational silos limiting cross-channel shopper engagement – and creating a comprehensive customer profile and thus, relevant marketing and engagement messages.