Dear Brands - To Make Loyalty Stick, First Make It Convenient

Peronalisation and loyalty go hand in hand. They're major, trendy subjects that a brand has to have, or be considering, within its armoury. Hence, today's long-awaited news that M&S is soon to join the fray with its "Sparks" loyalty card, which is likely to focus on personalised offers. That sounds great. What's not to like about offers that are fitted in around you? Well, actually quite a lot if you have to do the heavy lifting. Brands are forgetting with all this technology at their fingertips that it is a human they need to reach out to, not a piece of tech. Shoppers want convenience, not a range of features they have to preset and configure.

Let's turn our attention to Waitrose, whose My Waitrose loyalty club card has won plaudits throughout marketing circles as a game-changer. It allows members such as myself to select twenty 20%-off offers, which become permanently stored against their card. Pick up one of your favourites and on presentation of your card, you get 20% off. That is, of course, until the offers change and potentially some of your top twenty offers drop off the scheme, whereupon shoppers need to log in and select new offers.

Therein lies the rub. Why do these schemes expect us to do the heavy lifting of going online and ploughing through hundreds of offers to pick out twenty which we reckon might appeal over the next month or two? I did it recently and it was like selecting one of those fantasy football teams. Scores of names and weights and sizes to plough through. Still, I had done it and was reassured myself all was fine until I read that I might have to do the same thing next month when the offers are up for review.

The point I'm making is actually one that I chatted about to a Waitrose store assistant just a couple of weeks ago. She was a perfect representation of their brand. She personified charm as she handed out leaflets for the My Waitrose scheme that were intended to get people to activate their offers by logging on and selecting those which appealed. Those who smiled and promised to do so were handed a sturdy shopping bag, which was gratefully snapped up by shoppers concerned that plastic bags will soon be charged for at the cash register. 

So my conversation went along the lines of why I never hold all those store cards in my wallet at one time because there's just so many. They build up, I have a cull and then occasionally one or two will creep back in. The main point I passed on was that there should just be an app that puts the card in my phone, along the lines of what Starbucks offers (supposedly with mobile ordering from today but I can't find a button for that within it anywhere, even after updating it this morning). Anyway, the incredibly helpful lady suggested that this would make it difficult for those who didn't know or couldn't use those latest smartphones. The elderly? I suggested and she kind of nodded saying that she wouldn't put it quite like that.

My answer was that if people can't operate a smartphone, what are the chances they're going to sign in online and plough through a few hundred offers every couple of months to select the twenty they can psychically predict they will be snapping up over the next month or two? Of course, there was no answer.

So although it sounds smug and I don't mean it to, whenever I chat with a sales rep I always offer a tip and say if there's a competition each month for a good idea, throw this one in to the mix -- it always amazes me how virtually nobody seems to do this, but I offer the advice anyway.

So Waitrose, here's my two penny's worth that I passed on on that day. Don't expect me to carry a card in my wallet all the time. You're my favourite supermarket by a country mile -- and ironically, it has nothing to do with price or breadth of range that analysts seem to think will win the day. The issue is that I don't want to have to remember to carry your card to prove to you who I am and which offers I should receive. I really can't be bothered to save a few pennies by playing your Pick Your Offers game every month or two.

Here's an idea. Use an app on my phone so i can identify myself and pay for goods without needing a wallet at all. Here's another one -- why not automatically discount the things I buy frequently if they're up for an offer? I have no idea what's in my bag of 20 offers; why would anyone remember? Just give me my 20% off for the twenty qualifying purchases that I make most often. You've got the clever tills and the software that can make that happen and I've got the smartphone that's always in my pocket.

While we're at it, the app you need to improve to stop expecting customers to devote their spare time and wallet space to you, you just might want to get it work with beacons so you can alert me to those regular purchases as well as those less regular indulgences which you know I'll fall for if there's an offer. 

In short, you do the thinking and the heavy lifting and I'll bring my phone. What more do we need? Just remember -- don't sell something on how clever the tech is. Sell it on how convenient it is for me.

1 comment about "Dear Brands - To Make Loyalty Stick, First Make It Convenient ".
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  1. Devika Girish from MobStac, October 4, 2015 at 11:53 p.m.

    I totally agree with what you said. Beacons definitely help retailers build on their loyalty efforts momentum by targeting customers with the right offer at the right time and place.  However, inspite of all the hype around beacons, many marketers even today do not know what all can beacons be put to use to or how to get started with beacons. For example one of the commonly tossed questions by our customers is, what is the difference between geofencing and beacons, particularly because both actually try to achieve a similar goal – identify a user’s proximity to a particular location and trigger an action accordingly. We have discussed the basic differences between them in detail here:


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