NEW DELHI: Different retail sectors in India have built particular forms of loyalty with shoppers, and each can learn something from the other, new research suggests.

A study by global loyalty marketing agency ICLP sought to ascertain how shoppers felt about the relationships they have with particular brands and their associated loyalty programs. This found distinct differences between how shoppers experienced online retailers and bricks-and-mortar stores.

A majority of customers of Amazon (70%) and Flipkart (67%), for example, said they were provided with relevant recommendations for products and services that were of interest to them.

And, MXM India reported, most believed that their preferred online retailer had taken the time to get to know them and understand what they want: 63% in the case of Amazon shoppers and 58% for Flipkart.

The strengths of traditional multi-brand retailers such as Big Bazaar and Shoppers Stop lay elsewhere – with the research highlighting the importance of trust.

Fully 88% of Shoppers Stop customers, and 60% of those of Big Bazaar, said that the products offered by these retailers were of consistent quality and value for money.

"Indian retailers are generally doing a good job when it comes to building strong and lasting relationships with their customers," said Anurag Saxena, country head/general manager at ICLP, before adding that different retail sectors could learn something from each other.

"Multi-brand retailers should look at how ecommerce brands have leveraged customer data points and segmented them on the basis of likes, preferences, shared interests on social media and their involvement in groups and communities.

"Meanwhile; ecommerce players need to understand that as gratifying as it is to receive a discount, a memorable experience with the brand is far more valuable."

He suggested that giving customers unique experiences as rewards could strengthen the emotional bond customers have with a brand and so ensure the relationship continues long after the experience itself.

There is certainly scope for retailers to do more in this area. Fewer than half of Indian shoppers (47%) said that they were rewarded with offers tailored to their individual needs.

The research also pointed to the potential for retailers to reward those people making personal recommendations to friends.

Data sourced from MXM India; additional content by WARC staff