Independent builders’ merchants face a set of unique challenges that essentially mean price competition can seem nearly impossible. Instead, you’ll need to compete on other aspects of the customer experience: product quality, customer service and staff expertise. It’s likely that your business is reliant on returning trade customers. Customer loyalty is essential to the continued survival (and growth) of your business, yet many builders’ merchants don’t use all the tools at their disposal to maximise loyalty. Find out how to use your point of sale software to maximise loyalty from DIY and trade customers with no upfront costs.

A personalised experience for trade customers

70% of UK customers expect personalised experiences from brands, with more than half of respondents also expecting brands to remember their past purchases. Three-quarters of shoppers prefer to do business with companies that personalise their shopping experience. It’s not only e-commerce retailers who have data at their disposal – if you use point of sale software, it’s likely you’ll have plenty of consumer data stored and ready to access.

During every point of sale transaction with a trade customer, the staff member should glance over their account and look at past purchases. Perhaps they could inform the customer if an item they bought a while ago is on offer, or let them know that a related product is on sale for a good price. Consumers will be thankful that you’ve done them a favour and given them a chance to grab some relevant discounts that they might otherwise have been unaware of.

Data-driven loyalty schemes

Another way to improve trade customer loyalty is to be more generous with credit limits and payment terms when they reach certain spending thresholds – so long as they’ve paid up on time in the past. Try to formalise this system so that it’s fair for all your trade customers.

You could also implement loyalty schemes, where you track the spending of a trade customer and grant one-off discounts when certain conditions are met – perhaps spending more than £100, £500 or £1000 with you. Consider offering extra discounts if they refer another trade customer to you and they spend more than £x.

Openly advertise whichever loyalty benefits and schemes you choose to go with, and ensure your software can show you all the data you require at the point of sale.

Low-tech options

For non-trade customers, you won’t have as much data in your system (if any), unless you have the resources to create your own loyalty card scheme like Nectar or Clubcard. For most builders’ merchants, that kind of investment is out of reach – but that doesn’t mean you should abandon loyalty schemes entirely. Instead, consider more low-tech ways of rewarding loyalty, such as refer-a-friend schemes and stamp cards.

The future

Data is becoming the driver for every business and retail decision, and as consumers, we’re more willing than ever to provide companies with even more information. In the future, customer personalisation will be taken the next level – new technology enables companies to send personalised offers to a consumer’s smartphone as they browse a store, for example. In the near future the gap between the software used by the biggest in the business and SMEs will continue to close, and builders’ merchants will have many more ways of using technology to encourage customers to return.

The Integrity Software team will continue to innovate Trader, our retail management software for builders’ merchants, providing your business with new features and updates throughout 2016 and beyond.