As a customer, I have been asked countless times by cashiers upon checkout: “Would you like to sign up for our membership/loyalty/rewards program today?” Largely due to our pre-conditioning, we turn down the offer even before the cashier has finished his rehearsed sales pitch…
And the reasons aren’t that complicated. We have understood by our experience that these programs are largely for picking up valuable customer information such as demographics and shopping patterns, which the marketers would use to push products in the future. So the programs mostly appear as sham and we are wary of those.
That doesn’t, however, overlook the fact that some programs are really good and offer much more than they take from the customer. But it takes a lot of time, money and energy to sort out the good ones from others and that too comes after some hit and trial.
Nevertheless, loyalty programs are a cornerstone of retail and almost every well-organized store has some or the other form of it in operation. Several surveys have concluded that people prefer to buy and engage with stores that are most likely to reward customers with loyalty points.
So here’s a filtered list of the best loyalty programs that are sorted on the basis of: Ease of use, value of rewards, purchasing options that customer get, and for accessibility on smart phones.
The “Loyallist Program” is a rewards program that allows you to earn points on all Bloomingdale’s purchases, online and at the stores and outlets. When your account reaches 5,000 points, you’ll receive a $25 Reward Card that is redeemable on all merchandise†the very next day. You get double points on cosmetics and fragrances, 3 points per dollar if you use a Bloomingdale’s Store Card, as well as bonus Power Points on select and specialty qualifying purchases.
With Balance Rewards and their new “Steps” initiative, Walgreens has gone above and beyond the standard points-per-purchase model by encouraging and rewarding customers who commit themselves to a healthier lifestyle. With Steps, you can garner 250 points for setting a healthy goal, 250 points for linking a digital fitness device (from pedometers to scales), 20 points for every logged mile you walk or run, 20 points for every time you track your weight, and another 20 points for checking in at frequent physical activities (like yoga or spin class). Amazing, isn’t it?
If you’re someone who can’t start their day without a coffee or tea fix in the morning, My Starbucks Rewards is tailored towards you. Register a Starbucks Card online or download the free Starbucks mobile app to start earning 1 “star” per purchase. 1 star = 1 free drink or food on your birthday! Earn 5 stars and you garner “Green” status, meaning that on top of the free birthday reward you’ll also get free refills. 5 stars = free refills.
Sephora’s new Beauty Insider program doesn’t limit you to a points-based rewards system, although the benefits of that portion are considerable. Sign up for Beauty Insider and for every dollar you spend at Sephora.com or retail stores, you’ll receive 1 point for your Beauty Bank (1 point for each $1 spent). Amass enough points, and you can then use on sample sets of products, access to special products, and free limited-edition insider-only handpicked sets. Once you earn 100 points, you can select one Beauty Insider deluxe sample. Accumulate 500 points and you get free, limited-edition set selected for Beauty Insiders only!
Whether you’re buying a brand new HDTV or a single video game, Best Buy’s Rewards Zone program helps you rack up savings and rewards almost as rapidly as you spend. Once you sign up, you’ll start earning 1 point for each $1 spent. With every 250 points you are entitled to $5 reward certificate. Spend $2,500 in a year and you’ll automatically become a Premier Silver member that grants you 25% more points (1.25 points for each $1), free expedited shipping and delivery, and one free house call from a “Geek Squad” agent to help you with setting up your TV or personalized training with any devices you purchase.
Here’s an interesting comparison of non-loyalty program retailers versus loyalty-program retailers.