Welcome to the CandyBar blog!

CandyBar is a customer engagement solution for brick-and-mortar retail stores, by the team at ReferralCandy.

(Check out the latest features we’ve been coming up with to help you delight your customers!)

The CandyBar Blog writes about…

1: Understanding how customers experience retail stores.

We’ll explore things that have happened in the news that have made consumers love or hate the retail experience.

We’ll talk about what makes great stores great, the mistakes bad stores make, and how stores navigate the omnichannel retail experience in the mobile age.

We’ll go through examples of the best retail stores, how to make your customers happy, things that make customers want to come back.

2: Specific marketing tools and systems that retail stores can use.

Loyalty programs. Referrals. Analytics. Google Analytics for your foot traffic. SMS marketing to your customers as an SME retail store owner.

How do these things work, who uses them? How do you think about discounts and giveaways? How do you compete with online retailers? How do you define customer loyalty? What are the best small business blogs you should read?

3: Breakdowns of successful customer engagement tools and systems.

Why should you run a digital loyalty program?

What are the most important loyalty program statistics?

What are the most successful retail loyalty programs? What makes them tick, what are the variables and trade-offs you’ll have to consider?

What are some examples of loyalty punch cards?

We’re looking forward to exploring all of the above and more! We want to help SME retailers take their businesses to the next level and create better experiences for their customers. Stay tuned.

19 Instagram Marketing Experts Share Their Insights on How To Grow Your Following From 0 – 10K In 30 Days

Let me guess:

You have followed all the best tips found on the Interwebz.

You create fresh content daily. You use the right hashtags. You post 3 times a day. You reply to everyone who comments on your posts.


The number of followers on your Instagram account remains pitiful. You don’t even remember the last time your follower count went up.

At this rate that this is going on, you are going to give up.

How can Instagram be a profitable channel for your restaurant, if your number of followers don’t grow?

Fret not.

I am here to help.

I reached out to several Instagram marketing experts, and got them to answer this one question:

“If you were to grow a brand new Instagram account from zero followers to 10,000 followers in under 30 days, how would you do it?”

Below are their answers.

And I am 100% sure you will find something new to try… and skyrocket your Instagram following.

Try These Tips Shared By 19 Of The World’s Best Instagram Marketing Experts

Zach Benson | Assistagram

1. Powerliking method

Cost $1200-$1700 a month, depends on how many likes per day 1-3x, contact me at benson.zach@gmail.com to gain access to our network of 180 million on Instagram, several niches.

What are powerlikes and why does it work?

Powerlikes are likes/comments from a network of large accounts (100k+ accounts are considered large) as soon as your post goes live. The intent is to play into Instagram’s algorithm where a post’s first ten minutes are most crucial for gaining traction and determining how it’ll do in reaching beyond your current following.

It works two-fold: By flooding traffic from the large accounts over to yours from the ‘Following’ tab, as well as triggering the algorithm to recognise that large accounts are enjoying that piece of content.

This will not only increase the post’s reach to more of your current followers but increases its chances significantly in hitting the Explore page, where you’re reaching beyond your current audience and grow organically and quickly.

2. Telegram groups/rounds

Telegram is a messenger app that has become solely used for Instagram engagement groups. It’s hugely popular as you can code bots that take over the entire process for you, making everything automatic.

Below are screenshots of arguably the best and most exclusive engagement group, XPLOR Rounds.

Prerequisites: 80k+ followers, 2k+ likes per post avg

Niche: General/all

3. Direct message groups (free method)

Create a DM engagement group of 15 people with similar accounts, niche and a high quality audience— in this strategy, multiple Instagram accounts help each other grow organically by mutually liking & commenting on their content. The larger the accounts participating, the more effective it is.  You will need to be in 50-100 groups and participate constantly throughout the day, each and everyday.

Better to hire a VA to do this.

4. Shoutouts/giveaways/contests

Network with other big Instagram accounts in your niche and try and set up a giveaway contest with them.  This is a great way to grow your following fast.  By collaborating with a 3 million follower account and 300k + account, you could grow up to 2,500 -3,000 + in less than a week.  For example, maybe you have a hotel page and want more travel followers, you could create a 2 night all inclusive stay in your best suite for 2, full-board.  To be entered into the contest, you have to follow these accounts (the two large travel accounts and yours) and the more friends you tag, the higher chances of you winning.  The set up price of these contests vary in price and could cost you anywhere from $500 to a couple thousand dollars.  It just depends on who you know, like how big your network is and what you can offer these huge accounts in return to create a mutually beneficial business relationship.

5. Post viral content

Open up your Instagram app, look at whats on your Explore page tab.  All viral videos and pictures with thousands and thousands of views and likes.  Most of this content is what we call viral content, unique and original and “way out there”.  The more open you are to posting viral content the higher chances you will have of going viral on instagram while using the above methods.  An example of viral content: https://www.instagram.com/tribeinfluencer/

6. Be consistent

To be good at anything, you must do it every single day. For example, you aren’t going to be an awesome sports player if you only play 1-2x a week.  You have to practice each and every day.  Same with social media, you have to be consistent and posting each and every day, respond to comments, direct messages, like and comment on your target market, do market research, research and rotate hashtags daily, participate in engagement groups, use Instagram lives, stories, etc and create original epic content.  Easily 3-4 hours a day.  If you don’t have time to do this, outsource it.  Build your brand.  Your name is your most important asset.  Reputation is what other’s think you are.  Character is what you are.  Grow your following, provide great value for your fans, teach, inspire, give, give, GIVE and watch your circle of influence grow, network expand, and more opportunities will come your way.  You will find that it’s a lot easier to negotiate anything, seal deals, pretty much do anything when you grow your following and brand.  You are the brand. You are the commodity.  Think of Instagram as your new name card, so when you are out and about and you meet someone, exchange biz cards but then say hey let’s stay in touch via Instagram, pull up your account on their phone and then they are like WOW you have 100k followers. You are legit! Definitely peaks their interest more and helps you stand out from everyone else they met that night.

Nathan Chan | Foundr Magazine | Instagram

I would research the market I’m looking to serve, then create great looking content and post 3x a day.

Then I would find other Instagram pages that serve this target market and get them to share my content as much as possible from either paying, or working out reciprocal deals using my own accounts as leverage.

Then I would find other big accounts that serve this niche and convince them to like and comment on my posts.

Then I would run at least 2 competitions/giveways to get people to like and follow us – I would give away something that of super high value that would attract my target audience / niche – (that way we’re building a following of buyers too around this market).

 Alex Tooby | Website | Instagram

My answer will help you reach 10,000 REAL and TARGETED followers.. Not just any follower because what’s 10k followers worth if they’re not going to engage with your content or purchase your products or services?

So having said that.. here’s my approach: if you want your account to take off quickly you need to create a feeling of authority – like you’ve been doing this for ages and have perfected every inch of your Instagram strategy. To do that you need to laser focus on what your account is all about. It shouldn’t be “food, fitness, healthy lifestyle, travel, etc” it should be just ONE of those thing.

Niche down as far as you can then curate images that fall into a very specific theme.

Aesthetics are everything.. are your images white and bright? dark and moody? are they all desaturated except for the pinks and greens? Figure out what your aesthetic “style” is and stick to it like glue.

Upload a variety of photos to populate your feed, then post at least once per day moving forward. Select hashtags that aren’t too large (limit yourself to 5 tags that have over 1million posts associated with them) and write engaging captions that evoke a feeling, educate, or provide some sort of value to your audience.

Then.. the most time consuming part. Put yourself out there and start engaging with your target market. Like, comment and follow as much as you can (without getting blocked by IG) in the most authentic way possible. Make real comments, start true conversations, show your audience that you’re a real person who cares and is present behind the account. You could easily spend upwards of 1 hour a day doing this.

On top of this you can add SFS with complimentary accounts, run a giveaway, add relative content to your Instagram stories daily and go on IG live often to answer your audiences questions.

Bottom line is – Be present! Show up, be authentic and provide value.

Good luck!

 Ali Mirza | iSocialYou | Instagram

I would piggyback on the giant. Let me explain…

You are just starting out and have no audience. Right?

But there are so many other people in your niche who are 10 steps ahead of you (with huge audiences).

So reach out to them and ask them to feature you.

Yes, you may have to pay a little bit but it’s totally worth it.

If you pick the right influencers, their followers is your target audience also.

So don’t hesitate to spend some money.

Let’s create a step by step process so we can easily follow

1 — Find 10–20 Instagram influencers in your niche

2 — You can search on Instagram or use 3rd party tools (e.g. RightRelevant, Kear, Ninja Outreach)

3 — Find the contact info of the owners. Note: If their contact info is public on their account, this means they open for business)

4 — Reach out and find out how much their charge for a “shout out” or “feature post”

5 — I would pick 10 and have them feature my brand new account. Then pick the best 3 to 4 best performing influencers and do it again.

“You either build the audience from scratch or go to someone who already has the audience you need.”

 Leon Benjamin | Triple Your Tribe

Here’s my answer.

The main steps are
1. Who I’m looking to attract
2. My content + hashtags
3. Get easy quick followers
4. Shout campaign
5. Giveaway campaign
6. Engage with existing fans daily

First determine who’s my account for. And think about who else is serving them right now. What other instagram accounts are currently BIG that have them. I’d make a list of at least 30 of them who have over 40k followers and a fairly active comment section where discussions arise.

Next, I’d find out what type of content those accounts put out thats interesting for them to engage with. Make at least 30 posts that are similar to those kinds of post and add a twist to them with my brand. The rest can be posts with quotes related to the market.

Also from the previous listed accounts, scrape some of the hashtags that are in the medium range 20k-200k posts. And some in the more popular range +500k. From there I’d look a bit deeper to find more related tags through suggestions.

From there, I schedule the posts with later.com to go out once per day. And another post uploaded manually. While rotating 60 hashtags across 2 posts per day. (that’s 30 tags per post. NOT 60 tags per post – which can get you into trouble!)

Next, I’d ask my current network of friends, or fam to follow my new account. Just for the sake of growing momentum and some social proof.

Now for the giveaway campaign. I’d create a document of value either from my knowledge or from interviewing influencers in the market or get an existing product of value (maybe around +100$) that that audience will want. Something thats related to the market. And offer it for free. In a giveaway. They would have to follow and tag in someone to enter for a chance to win. The winner would be announced on the last day of the 30 days. All participants receive part of the document or online product as well as a bonus.  

Then, while that’s being promoted in the account, I’d get others to share it as well. I’d reach out to that list found in step 1 and ask them to give us a shout on their page. In exchange, shout them out on my page, or give them something of value in return.

While they promote the contest, I’d manually get traffic. The way I’d do that is by engaging (by liking or commenting or replying to stories) to the people who are active on the posts from accounts of list one.

In summary,
1. find my audience,
2. the content they’d like,
3. the tags that attract them,  
4. Ask existing network for some social proof followers
5. Create a contest
6. Get shouts from relevant accounts
7. Manually engage with the market

That could make me hit 10,000 followers easy. But in reality, hitting the 10k mark can be done by purchasing them.. however, would not make your account valuable to you or your market..

What would be the most bang per buck (your buck being in terms of your energy and time), would be to have an engaged and interested following instead.

So growing through the steps above, ensures you get interested followers. And less of the ones that unfollow you later.

Erica Eckman | Everything Erica | Instagram

Find out what is currently a topic going viral and create witty, funny or informative content around that topic.


 Jenn Herman | Jenn’s Trends | Instagram

I would never encourage a client to attempt to reach 10k followers in 30 days. It’s unrealistic and the audience will not generate the ideal results with that type of manufactured growth.


 Jason Stone | Millionaire Mentor | Instagram

I would do a giveaway and tell people to follow the account to win something



 Jaime Derringer | Website | Instagram

My best advice is do a lot of research. Find out which hashtags are critical, which are performing well, and who are the key influencers. Interacting regularly in this community is the best way to increase followers quickly and get noticed. Posting at least once a day using key hashtags is the right way to go, but don’t overdo it. Too many hashtags can get you flagged by Instagram. Also, consider posting video and doing a few Instagram stories regularly because Instagram favors these over photos and can help you increase your visibility within their algorithm. But most of all, be real, be human, and be authentic.

 Jim Tobin | Ignite Social Media | Instagram

Growing a following is extremely easy if you don’t care about the quality of your followers. There are companies online selling 5,000 Instagram followers for just $30. Several years ago, I actually ran an experiment and bought 10,000 Twitter followers to roughly double my follower count. Nothing beneficial happened and just a few months later, Twitter’s algorithms had deleted all of them. I was back to my natural follower level.

If you care about long-term value from your Instagram account, the steps are a bit more difficult.

  1. Start with a quality content strategy. Are you a drone photographer? Fashion? Food? Dogs? DIY?
  2. Create a significant amount of content, but be ruthless about deleting anything that’s not your best. Instagram more than Twitter is about quality over quantity.
  3. Begin posting. Use hashtags (between 5 and 10 is ideal), but place them as the first comment on your post, not in the body text.
  4. Once you have some decent content, follow people in the same space as they will often follow back.

This path takes some work, but if you’re not energized by it, building a large Instagram following will probably not have any benefit for you.

 Shawn Thomas | Website | Instagram

Unless you are a celebrity, or have some sort of public awareness, the ability to grow your account on Instagram to 10,000 followers in one month will require one or both of the following methods.

1. Find a way to get into what is called “Shout groups”. These are Instagram accounts all of similar size that will promote all of the other accounts in the group. For instance, on Monday if there are five people in the group, all five people promote want on account. On Tuesdayeverybody promotes the next account and that process keeps repeating each day. It works best if all of the accounts in the group are of similar theme.

2. Paid promotions. This is a method where you will reach out to accounts of larger size and similar theme and pay them to promote your Instagram account. This is the fastest way to grow your account on Instagram.

 Diana Marks | Lux Affair by Diana | Instagram

If I were to grow my Instagram account to 10K in under 30 days, I would still use the same techniques: consistency and originality of content, interaction with the community and existing fans, and using relevant hashtags. All accounts are different, but these are the three simple things that produce the best results.


 Lauren Bath | Website | Instagram

If you want to grow a brand new Instagram account from zero – 10,000 in under 30 days then you are overlooking the point of Instagram, to grow a community of like-minded people. Using Automation, Pods and other dubious methods might get you there but your audience will be shallow. My advice to anyone looking for  quick growth on Instagram is to take a step back and ask themselves what they really want it for, because if you want to influence your audience in any way then you’re going to have to settle in for the long run. The fastest ways to grow organically on Instagram is by posting world class imagery every single day using the right tags and engaging with other accounts for hours a day. Every day. For years. But if you build the base correctly you will start to see momentum and traction and if you’re a great person sharing great content then you might grow your influence here, and influence is not just about numbers.

 Mario Massitti | Website | Instagram

If I had to grow a brand new Instagram account from 0 to 10k followers in 30 days, simply put: I would run ads. Assuming I had a product established & content for Instagram, that would be by far the most efficient way. If I were trying to accomplish it with zero dollars, I would create partnerships and value for other influencers in my space (both on and off Instagram). I’m a big fan of growing organically (liking & commenting on potential client accounts, hashtags, etc.) but in this mindset – running a strong paid campaign would save a lot of headache and allow me to focus on what I do best and double down on my strengths: creating great products and creating strong, relevant content.

 Laura Lawson Visconti | Geography Creative | Instagram

I wouldn’t. I could, if I had a decent budget, hundreds of hours to spare, and employed all kinds of shady methods… but I wouldn’t. This is a common misconception nowadays, stemming from a greedy (or perhaps simply naive) desire both from brands and wannabe influencers to see numbers grow exponentially and unrealistically fast. If I was a brand, I’d want an engaged audience of 1000 people who are actually interested in my product, rather than an audience of 10k disinterested individuals (or worse, bots) as that doesn’t actually generate sales. It’s the age-old quality vs quantity argument. Quality is better, just as it always has been.

 Amber Renae | Website | Instagram

To grow in under 30 days, firstly I would create a really unique, beautiful and on-brand feed, that people instantly want to follow and collab with. Branding is step #1 in growing an audience. Once my feed is tight I would then start being super active
I would then make a targeted list of accounts that have a similar audience to the one I’m wanting to cultivate.
I would then actively target their followers, being super active on the platform, liking, commenting and DMing as often as possible.
I would also follow as many accounts as possible and unfollow anyone who doesn’t reciprocate
That should get 10k in 30 days

 Melissa McAllister | Team Made | Instagram

Easy! I would laser focus on my niche market and provide daily valuable tips for free.
How I was able to grow my account to 200,000 in less than 2 years (organically) was because I knew my market, which is fitness professionals, and I provided short workouts for them to do and use…FOR FREE!
Most people think you need to hang on to your BEST stuff for your paid content but that’s not true. You will have faster success over delivering right from the get-go while establishing trust and a good relationship which is the secret to a strong brand!

 James Shamsi | ModelGram | Instagram

‘Id pick a niche thats easy to grow that doesn’t have too many competitors – eg gaming. I’d then test new types of targeting for automation for the first 2 weeks, testing different options heavy for 2 days at a time. EG, those uploading content about different videogames, those engaging with diff videogame pages etc. I’d also start an engagement group with other accounts in that niche, helping to bring up average post reach and Explore page visibility. Last thing would be to do some influencer marketing, paying micro influencers with an audience I want, eg YouTube gamers, to do shoutout posts for the videogame meme page.

 Zahara Jade | HireInfluence | Instagram

There are always a few things to do in order to grow an Instagram account from zero to 10k in under 30 days, but one of the best and brightest ways is to leverage influencers.  Aside from all of the basics like having a tight brand image, profile, and sleek images + videos posted with a nice amount of hashtags – not too many and not too little – have others spread the word for your brand.  This might include so many different strategies.  A few suggestions to get you started: a roundup blog post of popular IG influencers that is then shared on IG to, a guest spot on an influencer’s IG account, a true sponsored post via an influencer, a collaborative real-life effort (social cause, etc.) with influencers that is shared via IG, and so much more!

Skyrocket Your Instagram Following Now

So, you’ve now heard from 17 different influencers on how they would grow their Instagram following in 30 days.

Your mind must be exploding by now.

But don’t be overwhelmed.

Read through their tips, choose up to 3 strategies that you would like to try and experiment with them over the next week.

And then… Execute.

New Feature: Packages

Looking for some extra cash? Well you’re in luck! With our new Packages feature, you can sell prepaid vouchers or items which customers can redeem on later visits to the store.

To start, first go to the Packages tab from the menu bar.

Then key in the customer’s phone number.

Once you’ve collected payment, select the package you sold. An SMS text message is sent to the customer.

Package items then show up in the customer’s CandyBar account.

That’s all there is to it. Hello cash flow.

Get in touch and we’d be happy to enable Packages on your account at no additional cost.

New Feature: Reward Notifications

Customers love getting rewards. Now, your customers will get notified when they get a new one. CandyBar sends out an SMS notification every time a customer earns a new reward.

We’ve also enhanced the history tab and rewards given to customers now show up in the history page. This makes it easy for cashiers to figure out when rewards were earned by a specific customer.

5 Ideas For Marketing Your Small Business

So you’re running a small business. You did the planning, you’ve set up shop, customers have been coming in. It’s been challenging but fulfilling. And now you’ve gotten to a sort of stable pattern, and you’ve started thinking about what’s next. How do you grow the business? How do you reach more people, get more customers?

Marketing a small business is tough, because of the many constraints. You’re not going to be able to hand over a big budget to a glitzy agency and tell them to ‘make it rain’. You’re not going to have the luxury of coming up with an elaborate, multi-part plan – you’re going to have to keep things simple, and get them done fast.

Here’s a list of things you could and should be doing.

1. Make sure your social media accounts are active and your site is search-friendly

Everybody’s on social media now, including lots of grandmas, so you really have no excuse any more.

It doesn’t actually need to be stylish, clever or gorgeous – it just really needs to be user-friendly.

The Oatmeal has one of the funniest ways of putting this across:

What your customers would want from your website (say you’re a restaurant):

  • Menu
  • Specials and happy hour info (including social promotions such as Foursquare, Groupon and Twitter specials)
  • Address with a link to Google Maps
  • Online reservation system that actually works
  • Operating hours, parking and contact info
Source: The Oatmeal
Source: The Oatmeal

2. Incentivize your customers to share their purchases on social media


People pay attention to word-of-mouth from their friends and peers more than they do to any other form of marketing.

So one of the best ways to reach new customers is through the friends of your existing ones.

Give your customers a hashtag to use, and you’ll start being able to see when they post their purchases on social media.

2. Clarify your story – make it sticky and contagious

One of the most powerful things you can do for your business’s marketing efforts is to improve your story.

How do you do that? You start by finding out what your customers are already saying about your store. Literally ask them – what brought you here? What convinced you to give us a shot?

Once you understand this well, you want to work this into your messaging.

Your end goal would be to make your store more remarkable – literally.

3. Guerilla marketing – make a strong impression with a bold statement

Photo taken by Mimi Ritzen Crawford
Photo taken by Mimi Ritzen Crawford

Guerilla marketing is all about creating maximum impact for minimum cost.

One of the best examples of this of all time was Warby Parker’s hijacking of the New York Fashion Show – they invited the editors from the fashion show to a ‘secret event’ at a public library, where they had staffers staking out all the seats. Just before the editors showed up, the staffers exchanged seats with models.

What about if you’re just a little brick-and-mortar retailer along the sidewalk?

Well, you could always get creative with your signage:


4. Do some niche marketing for your target audience

A Lululemon store turns into a yoga studio.
A Lululemon store turns into a yoga studio.

Every good product solves a problem for somebody. Even if your business serves a diverse group of people (say, a donut shop), there’s bound to be some pattern – you might notice that most of your best customers come from the nearby offices at a certain time of the day, for example. Maybe you could host some sort of ‘networking event’? Talk to your customers, and look for patterns.

Here’s a fun example – some Lululemon stores turn their stores into yoga studios after hours. This gives potential customers a judgement-free place to explore the brand, and help them to create a positive association with it. If they end up learning yoga and making friends at the store, and they’re going to need some yoga apparel and paraphrenelia, Lululemon becomes the obvious choice.

5. Try a loyalty program


Ever tried running a loyalty program? In the past, you had to do this with loyalty punch cards. This is often a tedious process – we’ve heard from our retailers that they spend too much money paying for the printing of the cards, and that customers get frustrated when they realize they’ve misplaced or forgotten their cards.

That’s why we made CandyBar – a modern loyalty program app for small businesses. No download necessary.

Test drive a free trial of Candybar.co  today!

Should You Use Groupon for Your Small Business?

Here are a collection of reads that we find helpful in thinking about the subject.

  1. Should I Use Groupon? Don’t Be Tempted By The Dark Side
  2. Quora: What do small business owners think of Groupon?
  3. Quora: Is Groupon a successful option for small businesses?
  4. Inc – 10 Pros and Cons of Using Groupon
  5. NY Times Business Blog – Doing the Math on a Groupon Deal
  6. /r/smallbusiness – GroupOn – Does it actually help businesses grow? – consensus seems to be that it only works for businesses that have a high markup, and that you really have to look at it as a generalized marketing expense.
  7. /r/smallbusiness – All my customers are from groupon

The general consensus seems to be that…

  • Groupon users are mostly bargain hunters who don’t look to signup
  • Some retailers have seen success with Groupon, but it seems like failures are far more common

So tread carefully!

You want to make sure you go into it with your eyes open, and not just end up giving away your products and services without getting anything in return.

Make sure you have a plan for getting more long-term value out of the customers that you get (since you’re effectively ‘paying extra’ for them).

Loyalty Program Checklist – 4 Things You’ll Need To Do

You’re busy, and you want to run a loyalty program.

What do you need to make sure you do?

Here’s a simple checklist to help you out.

1. Clearly define what you want to get out of your loyalty program

Do you want to get more regular customers? Do you want each customer to spend more?

The more specific you are about what your goal is, the easier it will be for you to make sure that you achieve it.

It’s common to want to achieve lots of different goals all at once, but that’s actually counter-productive – when you’re trying to do too many things at once, you often end up doing none of them very well.

2. Keep your loyalty program as simple as possible

Lots of big chains have loyalty programs with extremely complicated terms and conditions, so much so that it can almost seem like they’re deliberately trying to confuse and frustrate their customers.

A simple, straightforward loyalty program is a good way to compete with larger, more bureaucratic stores.

Focus on creating a great customer experience for your customers.

3. Make sure your staff understands the loyalty program well

If you do 2, then 3 will be easier – but you should still take the trouble to make sure that your staff knows what’s going on.

It can be very frustrating for customers to try to participate in your loyalty program, only to be obstructed by unhelpful staff.

This can have the exact opposite effect as originally intended.

4. Measure your progress

Measure your loyalty program progress

You’ll want to know how many loyalty cards you’ve given out, and how many stamps, too. This lets you know how you’re doing.

This can be a little challenging if you’re running a paper-and-ink operation, but it’s much easier if you use a simple digital solution like CandyBar.


Next in Queue: New CandyBar Cashier Experience

We’re excited to share an update to the core CandyBar experience.

Brand new interface and streamlined cashier workflow

Cashiers can now log in as a customer on the cashier page and give customers stamps and redeem rewards without the customer needing to log in.

The incoming requests page has been updated to focus on the customer being served, and show more details about them.

Next in queue

If your customers make the request from their personal phones, we now queue requests as they come in. Tapping ‘next in queue’ will take you to the next customer in line. If the customer made the request from the in-store tablet,  they’ll be logged off.

Customer identity

We’ve also added details about each customer, to help you understand more about their relationship with your business.

Stacked rewards and undo button

Multiple rewards now stack into a single card, making them simpler to redeem and see how many there are.

We’ve added multiple in-the-moment undo buttons, to help you make quick changes and fix mistakes.

History tab

We’ve also massively upgraded the history tab, allowing you to re-open recent customers at the tap of a button, or revoke accidental stamps or rewards.

How The Best Brick & Mortar Stores Build Customer Relationships And Loyalty

This is a post about learning from the best.

What do the top brands do that earn so much loyalty?

How do they win people over, over and over again?

1. Starbucks – warm, predictable atmosphere

Starbucks is well-known for many things. They don’t actually have the best coffee in the world – just good-enough coffee that’s consistent and reliable. You know to expect the same sort of experience and service from Starbucks around the world.

2. Subway – tasty bread smell

The thing that always gets me about Subway is the smell of the bread. There’s an outlet near where I work, and I have to walk past it every morning. Several times, I have ended up buying a Subway sandwich because the smell of the bread was just too enticing.

How could you be using smells to allure your customers?

3. Apple – premium experience

Apple stores are all about simplicity and elegance. There’s a lot of big open space, and everything is minimalist.

The effect is a focus on the products. If you look at the walls, the ‘decorations’ are all high-resolution pictures of the products in action.

How could you make your product the hero of your store?

4. Lululemon – social warmth

Lululemon is more about warmth, and socializing. They turn some of their stores into yoga studios after hours.

5. IKEA – fun, immersive experience

The magical thing about IKEA is that it creates this large, immersive experience for customers to navigate. You might go there wanting to buy a couple of things, but end up with an entire trolley’s worth. A lot of this is about seeing things in the context in which they might be used.

How can you create an experience and contextualize things for your customers?

Why Run Loyalty Programs? 3 Stats and Figures For Retailers To Know

Why should you bother with a loyalty program?

Is it really worth the trouble, when you have so much on your plate?

The answer is an emphatic yes, and here’s why:

1. It’s 6-7 times cheaper to persuade customers to return than to acquire new ones

customer retention vs customer acquisition costs
Image: Super Office

Loyalty programs can do several things at once, but the most important thing it does is incentivize repeat purchases.

It’s easier to persuade somebody to buy another cup of coffee from a store they liked than to try their luck somewhere else.

According to a Harvard Business Review article, acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.

If you’re running a small business, you likely don’t have a massive marketing budget to work with. You need to be efficient with how you spend your marketing dollars.

2. Customers are up to 80% more likely to shop at stores that have loyalty programs

According to a study by Technology Advice, customers are 82.4% more likely to shop at stores that have loyalty programs.

Likelihood of shopping at stores with loyalty programs
Image: Technology Advice

It probably boils down to consumer psychology. Customers always want to feel like they’re getting a good deal – so if they’re going to be getting coffee every day, and there are two equally good options to choose from, they’re going to choose the one with a loyalty program.

Considering the psychology of discounts, and things like the endowment effect, it’s quite probable that you might get more loyal customers by raising your prices and then giving a discount, than by lowering your prices wholesale!

The point here is to focus on the customer experience – you want to make sure that your customers feel good buying from you.

3. Loyal customers spend 33% more, and up to 10x more (!) over time

According to MarketingProfs (citing a study by Five Stars), loyal customers are less price conscious and are likelier to spend much more over time.

It makes sense – a person who likes your coffeeshop is likelier to buy that second or third drink, and a person who frequents your retail outlet regularly is likelier to pick up more things as she browses.

Image: Liquid Agency

A Forrester study ‘The Business Impact of Customer Experience” backs up this claim – loyal customers spend more than new customers.

Looking for a sleek, modern digital loyalty program that doesn’t require customers to signup or download anything? Try a free trial of CandyBar today!

6 Principles Of Customer Loyalty

We all know that loyal customers are better than non-returning customers.

But how do you earn customer loyalty?

What are the principles of customer loyalty?

1. Positioning – communicate your brand values clearly and strongly

This sounds good in the abstract, and it makes sense for giant companies like Apple and Harley-Davidson. But what if you’re just a small mom-and-pop store?

It’s still very important. A customer walking past your store should be able to tell, in an instant, what your business is “about”.

You might be selling ice cream, coffee, or even groceries. But what kind of grocery store is it?

Is it a place that’s cheaper than everywhere else? Does it have the best service? Does it have the most pleasant shopping experience? The most helpful staff?

You don’t need to be perfect in every area – and you shouldn’t try to be. Rather, you should figure out what exactly you’re about, and communicate that as effectively and consistently as you can.

You’ll earn loyalty from the specific type of customer who’s looking for your specific type of store. So be clear about what that is.

2. Trust – be consistent and reliable

Lots of people know that they can get better coffee somewhere other than Starbucks, and better food somewhere other than McDonald’s – and yet they patronize those places over and over again. Why? Because it’s consistent and reliable. You know that a Frappucino or a Big Mac is going to taste and cost pretty much the same, wherever in the world you buy it.

As consumers, we’re all overwhelmed with information every single day. We have too many decisions to make about too many things. And so we often satisfice by going with what we know is “good enough”.

One simple and effective way to reassure would-be patrons and earn their confidence is by having a return policy. If you’re an F&B outlet, this could come in the form of a “We’ll make your drink/dish again, no questions asked” policy.

3. Surprise – delight your customers whenever you get the chance

Everybody loves free stuff. And we love it even more when it’s unexpected.

(Of course, sometimes you’re going to get truly unreasonable customers. You don’t want those people to come back. Still, be firm and polite. In the Facebook era, every small business has a chance of being thrown into the media frenzy of international news because of a customer feedback issue.)

4. Treat them well when things go wrong

Lifelong customers can switch loyalties when something bad happens, and then the response is fudged. You do want to minimize the odds of bad things happening (especially catastrophically bad stuff like food safety, faulty products and so on). But you also need to know that something will inevitably go wrong, and some of your customers will be disappointed. One of your crew is going to spill a drink on a customer. You need to be prepared for this.

Make it up to them. Be sincere in your apology. Give them free stuff, and not a derisory amount (like a 10% coupon or something). It might seem costly in the moment, but the positive word-of-mouth you’ll get from this sort of thing is very worth it.

5. Keep your employees happy

Unless your brand is all about grumpy staff, you’ll want to keep your staff happy. They are the stewards of your brand.

Zappos is one of the famous examples of a brand that’s known to delight its own employees. Virgin is another.

“It should go without saying, if the person who works at your company is 100 percent proud of the brand and you give them the tools to do a good job and they are treated well, they’re going to be happy.” – Richard Branson, to Inc

6. Build a community

Every great brand has a loyal following, and that following becomes a community.

Host little events in your business space, if you can. I’m particularly partial to live music. Lululemon turns some of its stores into yoga studios after hours.