Blog: Leonie BarrieLessons in loyalty

Leonie Barrie | 11 July 2008

Hurtling headlong into a recession, you would have thought retailers would have got the message that every customer counts. But not according to new research from Verdict, which suggests around one-fifth of shoppers have no loyalty to the stores they visit.

It’s not clear why they don’t just switch if that’s what they want to do, but perhaps the alternatives aren’t much better either. And it’s particularly worrying for clothing retailers who top the list of those with the highest disloyalty levels. Around one-quarter of their customers would rather spend their money somewhere else it seems.

Interestingly, though, the research shows clothing customers are just 3.1% more disloyal than they were a decade ago – which suggests the sector’s always lagged behind when it comes to customer satisfaction.

And there’s good news for beleaguered Marks & Spencer, which struggles to please anyone these days – except its footwear customers who apparently give it a 90.0% rating in the loyalty stakes.

Customers might be inclined to shop around for bargains when money’s tight, but they also have more choice these days in the number of different places to shop – including the internet of course – which makes it easier for them to flit around.

John Lewis is one retailer that consistently seems to get it right – and this success is reflected in its stellar sales. It understands its customers, and realises that exceptional levels of service, good value for money and deep ranges that meet their needs are key to getting them to come back. Yes it’s a simple formula, but it’s also one the retailer manages to deliver, each and every time.

I’d throw in a couple of observations of my own too. For clothing, sizing is key and customers very quickly work out what fits them and what doesn’t. When a retailer gets this one right, loyalty must surely follow.

And why do so many stores make it so hard for customers to actually find what they’ve got on display in the windows or on in-store models? We’re all strapped for time these days, and retailers must make it as easy and enjoyable as possible to shop with them if they want us to part with our hard-earned cash. 

UK: Shopper loyalty at record low says report


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