Most of us will be familiar with the various store loyalty schemes. I’m thinking here about the likes of Tesco Clubcard, Marks and Spencer’s Sparks and Sainsbury’s Nectarcard, to mention just three of the biggies. You might even be an active user of one of these schemes. Loyalty schemes are of course quite an old invention, you might remember Co-op’s divi and, of course, Green Shield Stamps from past times.
Some loyalty scheme challenges
There are many challenges to running these sorts of schemes. Not just from the scheme provider’s perspective, but also from the users’ point of view:
- How to value transactions?
- What about recording these transactions?
- How long to keep the scheme going?
- Just how will you reward loyalty?
- And how to communicate the offer?
- What about tracking user behaviour and hence calculate some sort of ROI?
In our household we actively use a small number of schemes from various national retailers. Two are from major supermarket chains and we did have one other from a garden centre group. We also have cards for a petrol brand, a coffee chain, and another being run for various retailers and brands. We rarely use these cards, and to be honest these schemes lack any real excitement these days, but maybe that’s just us?
A raft of new launches
I was intrigued somewhat to be made aware of as many as five new loyalty schemes. These were not being run by national retailers but by local, independents. One was being run by a local garden centre, one by a homewares/furnishing shop in our local town, one by an independent coffee bar in the same town, one by a hair salon, and one by a country pub/restaurant.
It would be interesting to understand what has driven the owners to introduce these new schemes. Do they now all have access to some new point of sale (POS) system or booking scheme that includes this as an option? Have they all been approached by the same local marketing agency specialising in customer loyalty? Are they feeling the threats of competitors and hence reacted accordingly? Has the uncertainty of Brexit made them think more about their customers?
I’m sure they each have their own reasons for launching such programmes and it would be interesting to get feedback from any of them willing to share this, particularly around how they measure the success or other metrics of each scheme. However, if nothing else they should be commended for taking a more customer-focused approach to their businesses. Perhaps indeed loyalty is back on the agenda?
Using customer satisfaction research is of course one other ways to better understand customers.