I’m always willing to borrow a good idea from a mass merchant (I’m sure they won’t miss it).  I like the  fact that Kohl’s offers a concrete incentive for customers to return within a week or two of their original purchase.

The concept is simple — offer a reward based on the amount of the original purchase, and make it valid for a limited amount of time starting a week or so after the date of the first visit.  I think it’s important not to make it start only a day or two later, because few customers visit independent retailers with that kind of frequency.  After a week a return visit would be more likely.


Another concern is what happens to the reward if the item originally purchased is returned. You need to have a way of handling this eventuality, and a POS that helps you keep track of this type of occurrence. It could also happen that the original item is returned after the reward has been spent, of course.

But if you have a way of handling this type of “come back soon” incentive, it could be a significant factor in increasing the visits of your top customers. And these are of course the individuals who are particularly key to your success.

A low tech way of offering an incentive for customers to return is to give them a discount coupon only good a week after their visit, or an offer of a free gift with purchase during that time.  The cost of trying this is almost nothing, and if it gains you some good will and some additional sales it’s well worth doing.

Happy Retailing,
Carol “Orange” Schroeder

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