Turn holiday shoppers and diners into year-round customers

Thursday, September 29, 2022

The holidays are upon us, and with that comes most retailers’ – and even many restaurants’ – highest-trafficked days of the year. As a business owner, you probably look forward to seeing some of your regulars turn to you for holiday tasks like gift-sourcing and party-hosting, but did you know that 32% of stores’ holiday traffic actually comes from first-time buyers? That’s a potential 32% increase in your customer base if you do the work to retain them in the new year.

Likewise, between holiday parties and festive post-shopping meals, most restaurants, too, see some of their busiest shifts and highest sales in December. Many of these gatherings bring in first-time diners as well. So if you play your cards right, you have a serious opportunity to turn those office party-goers into regulars.

What goes into a strong customer retention plan? We’ll cover just that, but here’s a preview:

Collect and segment data to create personalized marketing campaigns

Gone are the days of letting someone sign their receipt without getting a little more information out of them (or at least doing your best to!). When you collect – at minimum – a customer’s name and email address, you can create their profile in your point of sale, now allowing you to track all of that customer’s activity. You’ll be able to analyze their shopping or dining preferences, how often they visit and when, how much they spend, even specific products or menu items they’re drawn to. Then, you can use that data to craft personalized messaging, either through email, text, social media or retargeting ads.

Hit customers who purchased Brand X with an email or text as soon as a new shipment arrives. Reach out to anyone who bought a scarf with visuals that share ideas for how to style it. Target those who purchased a gift card with a reminder to spend them. Even if these items were gifted, it will still get your brand name back in front of the original buyer.

If you’re a restaurant, experiment with personalizing your emails and text marketing.

We mean that literally: Put the recipient’s name in the subject line. According to Experian, doing so increases open rates by 26%. That’s how you stand out in crowded inboxes.

Learn more best practices for collecting customer data.

Offer bounceback coupons and gift cards

Secure repeat purchases and encourage upselling with bounceback promotions. A bounceback promotion rewards a customer for their current purchase, by offering a discount on a future purchase. For example, you could advertise that for every $100 a customer spends in December, they receive a $20 coupon to use in January. Similarly, consider offering a gift card promotion: Buy a $50 gift card as a gift, receive a $10 gift card for yourself.

Once the new year hits, run a point of sale report of all customers who took advantage of these promotions, and send an email or text to remind them that the window to spend their voucher has opened.

Note: If you have an ecommerce site, make any promotions you offer offline redeemable online as well. An omnichannel point of sale makes this easy.

Incentivize customers with loyalty points

If you don’t have one set up already, it’s time to consider a customer loyalty program. These provide a clear incentive for repeat business, all while adding additional data to your collection efforts. They can be as complex as a tiered points reward program, or as simple as a birthday promo. No one likes letting a deal go to waste — a quick email coupon is a surefire way to bring a past customer back through your doors.

Loyalty members are 4x more likely to be repeat customers than non-loyalty members, and letting them know why you’re asking for their information develops trust.

Just remember: your loyalty program must be integrated with your point of sale system to help you monitor levels of customer engagement and help you respond accordingly.

Enhance the staff experience to nurture customer relationships

The holidays are busy and stress levels are high. It’s easy for staff to let their guard down and deliver a less-than-pleasant response if they encounter a tough new customer. But 59% of people won’t return to a business after a bad customer service experience. That means a single negative interaction could cause you to lose someone who otherwise may have turned into a loyal customer.

Providing an excellent customer experience should be your highest priority, and that starts with providing an excellent staff experience.

Make sure you’re establishing a clean and safe working environment for them, and ask for their feedback to make sure you’re in alignment about what that looks like. Have regular check-ins, show your appreciation and respect their time. Get your schedules done early, and be sure you are staffed appropriately for peak days and times (use your POS data from last year to determine these).

Here are some additional tips for managing stress and staff morale. The higher the staff satisfaction, the higher the customer satisfaction.

Refresh for the new year

If you’re a retail store, get your holiday decor packed up and window displays refreshed by the first week in January. Mark down leftover seasonal merchandise and move it to the back to make room for new arrivals your holiday shoppers haven’t seen. Don’t have new inventory yet? That’s ok. Remerchandise what you have and create fresh displays with a nod to other upcoming winter holidays and themes, like Valentine’s Day or cold-weather getaways.

If you’re a restaurant, change up your menu. That doesn’t have to be an entire overhaul — consider adding some specialty cocktails or just a few new-year dishes. Think about what people are craving in January — they probably have resolutions on their minds and want some health-conscious options! Advertise that these additions are here for a limited time only to instill a sense of urgency. And while you’re at it, this is a great time to consider saying goodbye to menu items that may no longer be performing well. You can pull these metrics from your restaurant point of sale, as well.

This season is busy for everyone, but don’t skimp on these customer retention strategies if you want to welcome your holiday customers back in the new year (and who wouldn’t?!).

Remember: Quick, secure and convenient checkout experiences play a large part in boosting brand loyalty. Learn more about our flexible payment processing and point of sale solutions for every budget.