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Insane Discount Season and Customer Loyalty

Keith Hammond’s post on Friday about the Insane Discount Season got me thinking.

Keith Hammond’s post on Friday about the Insane Discount Season got me thinking.

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Many retailers offered customers Early Bird Specials to entice so-called professional shoppers to begin their post Turkey Day shopping frenzy at their store. Bargain priced DVD players were all the rage this year as Wal-Mat, Fry’s, Circuit City and Best Buy all offered DVD players under $30 to goad early bird shoppers.

All this lead me to thinking — is the Holiday retail shopping season the best time to build customer loyalty? Do Early Bird Specials lead to increasing customer loyalty? Does a retailer really want to attract professional shoppers as loyal shoppers?

The Holiday retail shopping season means that retailers see current customers buying more stuff and new customers experiencing the retailer for the first time. To handle this increase in business, retailers have hired more employees, extended hours of operation, and jammed their stores chock-full of merchandise.

But these employees that companies hire for the Holidays are temporary and not as well trained, not as knowledgeable about the products/services, and not as committed or dedicated as the regular staff seemingly is. Are these the employees retailers want to engage and establish relationships with new customers?

Early Bird Specials may help to draw more customers but at what cost? Retailers cling to the hope that these loss leaders will attract customers to buy other products with higher profit margins. But does this retail tactic train customers to expect super low prices in order to stimulate a purchase? Is training a customer to expect super low prices what a retailer wants to do when trying to acquire new customers?

Finally, does a retailer really want to attract professional shoppers? These so-called professional shoppers are bargain hunters seeking the best possible prices on the greatest selection of merchandise possible. Do these customers make the best loyal customers?

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I believe the question retailers should be asking themselves is — how are they going to convert Holiday shoppers into regular shoppers by getting them to return in the months to come?

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