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Beyond the check-in to the check out

September 8, 2010

Why Location-Based Services need to be the next loyalty program.

The retail space is a different animal from anything else out there. Building a brand takes a back seat to the cha-ching.

I’m raising the flag for tiered Location-Based Services (LBS). There are many ways to reward a check-in, but right now they basically boil down to a coupon or free stuff. The problem? Not all customers are created equal, but LBS are putting people into one big bucket. People who wonder by are getting the same reward as your loyal fans.

It’s the small and meaningful touches that turn occasional customers in to loyal, evangelist customer-of-your dreams that every business wants. Instead of handing them a coupon, give them an experience.

That’s where the loyalty program comes in. If all people want to do is play the check-in game, then that’s okay, they get some attention and coupons. We don’t lose sight of them, because they’re potential loyal customers. It’s the loyalty program that we need so retailers know who’s actually making the register ring. We need to be able to tie in people’s activities in the physical world (purchases) with what they’re doing on Foursquare, Yelp, or Triout.

Example time:

Let’s use Banana Republic as an example. Let’s also say that the customer that just walked (and checked) in has spend $4,000 over the last 12 months. This is your chance to maintain that relationship and give them a reason to say “The coolest thing happened to me today…” to their friends. What if you assigned a personal shopper/stylist to them to help find the perfect piece for their wardrobe? Or, how about inviting them to preview the new clothing line before the rest of the public?

These touches don’t necessarily have to cost a lot of money, but the effect is to turn a customer into a brand lover.

The bottom line?

  • Common rewards for the check-in crowd & casual shoppers
  • Exclusive experiences for your “big fish” customers to keep them coming back and to encourage them to spread your message.
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