By now 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 Nectar, to mention just three of the biggies. Some of us may even be active users of such schemes. Loyalty schemes are of course quite an old invention. Again, I’m thinking about the 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. This is 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?
- What about rewarding loyalty?
- How to communicate the offer?
- What about tracking user behaviour and hence calculate some sort of ROI?
In our household we are currently actively using a small number of schemes from various national retailers. Two are from major supermarket chains and the other is from a garden centre group. We also have cards for the likes of a petrol brand, a coffee chain and another being run for various retailers and brands. These are however very rarely used by us, and to be honest these schemes seem to lack any real excitement these days, but maybe that’s just us?
A raft of new launches
So I was recently 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. All of them seem to have started in the last few months. One is 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 of course be interesting to hear about what has driven the owner to introduce these new schemes. Do they now all have access to some new point of sale 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 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 will be interesting to get feedback from any of them willing to share this as to how they measure the success or otherwise 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?