I was shocked and full of disbelief at the weekend when a friend informed me that WHSmiths have axed their clubcard. Did they forget to tell me this? I think the clubcard was the first card I ever had. I still have the original bluey green one complete now with tea stains!
My first thought when I hear this was disbelief so I had a look online to research. WHSmiths own website has no information about this! (You can still sign up to one!) The only information I could find was from HotUKDeals and Martin Lewis’ Moneysavingexpert. I suppose that they may want to keep quiet as millions of pounds must be sitting dormant on cards which people only have until 29th February to use!
However despite this I think it was a good idea for WHSmiths to end their club card. I did my Degree Dissertation on customer loyalty – (don’t worry I won’t go into in detail) and I rather think loyalty schemes as they are no longer having a positive effect on customers. I am a prime example of this. I have a card for every shop. I’ve just looked in my wallet and every where I go I carry 14 pieces of plastic. Does that make me use say WHSmiths more than Waterstones. No not at all because I am probably like many people, one who never redeems their points – therefore the points don’t incentivise me to spend (on a side note I knew I was using the Boots sandwich deal too much when I had racked up £15 worth of points on it alone! . . . I bring in my own sandwiches to work now). It is nice to get something back though, and saving for a fu
I believe if a company is going to incentivse loyal customers in this discount and disloyal world they must be challenged not to use a 1p in the £1 one size fits all approach but rather to tier their schemes to give greater rewards for greater spends. Give more to those who spend more. A good (though simple) example of this working well is Nandos. After buying three meals you get a free quarter of a chicken, now if this was a normal “flat” loyalty scheme that would be it, but they are incentivising their best customers so when you buy another three it goes up to half a chicken and after another three a whole chicken. This works (I’m proof of that!!). However that is a simple example. It is very hard to do well in larger more complex businesses so I do not think this will be widespread for some time.
Where does that leave us with WHSmith? They have introduced the Privilege club. Rather than card based it is voucher based. Every month they send through vouchers by email for “a minimum of £10 off”. Looking at the vouchers I have recently received they can do well here – eg 20% off Halloween, is a good promotion to clear stock. Also there is a 20% off anything (certain areas / normal exclusions) which is brilliant in these economic downturn times when you just want a instant saving. I shall be using this and my old clubcard to treat myself!
However I think WHSmith have taken a step backwards! These vouchers cannot be used online! They are all identical so unlike a clubcard you cannot track your customers. Ultimately customers will enjoy the benefits of instant vouchers but WHSmiths may be less able to target specific customer buying groups or keep their long term loyalty with this scheme. I see it as a cost saving scheme rather than a customer loyalty scheme.
I a still waiting for a truly personalised loyalty scheme which emails you and says – you bought this…. well why not try this also for half price. Or one which rewards you more as you spend more giving you a reason to be loyal.