Everyone seems to be focused on all the deal sites out there. There are plenty to choose from, with Groupon and LivingSocial leading the pack and plenty more hot on their heels. Many merchants find these deep-discount sites great for getting new customers through the door, but are left wondering, “how do I get them to come back?”
There have been more than a few articles lately touting consumers’ desire for discounts, but many of these articles go on to say that the discounts do not need to be steep. People want quality and are not always willing to sacrifice that in order to get a huge discount. They are willing to spend a little more, while still having the satisfaction of knowing they saved a bit without the sacrifice.
Bearing that in mind, if a consumer finds a great new merchant or restaurant through one of these deal sites and is impressed with the quality, what will get them to return? The answer is simple – reward them! There are two ways to reward them. The retailer can continue to offer discounts on those sites and see many of these people only when the discount is running, or, the better choice, they can start a loyalty program. Every time a customer comes in and spends money, with or without a discount, they are accumulating points that can later be redeemed for something at that retailer. The consumer will work towards their own reward, contuning to patronize the business without a discount, so that they can ultimately be rewarded with a ‘thank you” gift.
There is a great new company in New York City that offers such a program and helps to support and build local businesses. LocalBonus allows consumers to create an account and register their credit and/or debit cards which turns those cards into virtual loyalty cards. They have a network of almost 40 merchants currently, and they are adding new merchants on a regular basis. When a member uses their registered credit card in any of the network merchants, they are building up points. These points continue to accumulate with each new in-network purchase with a registered card.
They also offer a catolog of redemption offers from these network merchants, with some offers redeemable at just 1000 points. As the member aquires points, they can browse the catalog, and redeem their chosen “thank you” from their favorite merchant, or check out an entirely new place to them.
It is a win-win situation for all. Merchants and restaurants offer an easy loyalty program while increasing their exposure to new local clients. Members don’t have to carry around multiple “buy 10/get 1 free” cards, using the credit card they already carry to build up points. And, local businesses get the support they need and deserve, from other business owners, as well as their neighborhood clientele.