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Loyalty tips from a shopping expert

By Kathy Sheeran

As a shopping expert, I’m often asked by consumers if loyalty programs are worth it, and the answer is definitely yes.

If people frequent a retailer that has a strong loyalty program, why not sign up? It’s a great way to get better value from shopping.

However, there are some retailers getting it wrong, because they’re not looking at it from the customer’s perspective and asking what they value the most.

Based on my experience as a shopper and background in finance, some of the most valued elements of loyalty programs are the minimum spend before customers get their reward, and making those rewards tangible, like vouchers, gifts and exclusive offers for the money customers are already spending.

I encourage customers to look out for these kinds of rewards and then consolidate their cards to get the maximum benefits out of them.

For example, I only have four rewards cards: one each for health and beauty, groceries, travel, and a department store. This ensures I shop in one place, accumulating maximum points and therefore receiving the maximum benefits.

But if customers start to realise this and cut down on rewards cards, retailers need to be smart about what they’re offering to stay competitive and remain one of the few cards in the wallet.

After extensive research, I found the Priceline Pharmacy Sister Club is an excellent example of a loyalty program that retailers should look to. I found they offer the best monetary rewards and tangible benefits for customers in health and beauty.

Take my hubby and I for example. I spend conservatively $1500 a year on health and beauty products, and for some parts of the year I could spend $400+ in a quarter.

At Priceline Pharmacy, not only do I receive a monetary reward on this, but under the new Sister Club program, I also get to choose two full size products out of a choice of ten to take home for free.

This is a nice little bonus and encourages me to shop in one place for health and beauty – a win-win for both me and the retailer.

With 6.7 million women already signed up to the Priceline Pharmacy loyalty program, they are a retailer that seems to be doing it right, and it’s so simple.

Loyalty tips for retailers

If you’re a retailer looking to start a loyalty program or revise your current offering, make sure your program is delivering rewards your customers actually want, without having to spend an arm and a leg to get there.

Ensure you’ve got the simple things right too, like making it an uncomplicated and seamless process at the counter, not taking your VIP customers for granted, ensuring your customer service is at its finest and making customers feel valued.

If you do this right, you can boost growth, boost reputation and get vital market research.

Kathy Sheeran writes the weekly ‘shop SMART’ column and blog for Sunday Telegraph in addition to her own blog, Shopping Confessions. She was consulted on Priceline Pharmacy’s loyalty program.

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