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Editor’s Comment – March 2018

Supermarket loyalty schemes have been in the news over the past couple of months as Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s all announced changes. Tesco devalued its Clubcard vouchers so that customers could get days and meals out to 3 times the value of a coupons. Previously this had been 4 times the value so for £2.50 worth of Clubcard vouchers a customers could receive a £10 voucher for restaurants including Bella Italia, Zizzi or Pizza Express. Other partners gave 2 times the value of Clubcard vouchers.

In an email to customers, Tesco said: “Previously your vouchers were worth 2 times their value with some of our Reward Partners – and others were worth 4 times. We’ve decided to make things easier. From today, you’ll get 3 times the value of your vouchers across the majority of our Reward Partners at” However, this simplification of its loyalty rewards scheme – which gave no notice to customers of the changes taking immediate effect – was met with a backlash from customers and a retraction from Tesco. The changes will not come into effect now until June.

Waitrose, meanwhile, dropped the ability for customers to pick their own offers from its myWaitrose loyalty programme at the end of February. Previously, shoppers could receive a 20% discount on 10 products of their choosing. Going forward, Waitrose says that holders of its myWaitrose card will receive tailored vouchers and personalised offers along with the current exclusive vouchers and competitions and a free magazine and tea or coffee.

Sainsbury’s is putting more emphasis on its customer data by buying Nectar, the multi-brand loyalty programme of which it was a member. As Jason De Winne, UK General Manager, ICLP says in his feature on retail loyalty in 2018 in this issue of InternetRetailing magazine, “Sainsbury’s acquisition of Nectar is further evidence of retailers seizing control of their consumer data to enable the customer-centric, highly personalised rewards and loyalty experiences that are defining the modern era of retail loyalty.”

Loyalty is just one topic in this issue in which we look in depth at how retailers are connecting with customers, not just for a single transaction but a continuous conversation around acquisition, retention and loyalty. We also look at how digital and machine learning are leading to deeper conversations, greater engagement and personalised experiences and what that means for IT, trading and operations teams.

I investigate how data, digital technologies and machine learning are altering merchandising and how customers and the products themselves can feedback into development pre- and post-sale. Katy Howell, CEO, immediate future shares insight into social media, changes across the platforms and how retailers can improve their connections with customers. Interestingly, she says that two-thirds of visits to Instagram business profiles are from people who don’t follow the brand yet. Also, 33% of people under 25 say they are more likely to buy directly on Facebook, 27% on Instagram and 20% on Twitter. The desire to buy in social is growing with the older age groups too.

Paul Skeldon, Mobile Editor, InternetRetailing investigates how mobile is bringing retailers and customers closer together while Graham Halling, Director of Consulting, Bench explains the way ahead for headless commerce and why the e in ecommerce now stands for everywhere. “A solution where the content management system is decoupled from the ecommerce system will liberate your IT and Marketing functions and go a long way to overcoming many of the misalignment that often exists between them,” he says in his feature in the Mobile Section of this issue of the magazine.

Retailing everywhere through digital is increasingly being felt in store as staff carry iPads for customer-facing services and back office tasks. David Wright, Marketing and Business Development Director and Mike Pearson, Associate Director, Digital, Dalziel & Pow examine what digital in store means for IT, trading and operations teams. They also share their knowledge of how retailers can get the experience right for customers and for staff.

Delivery also offers an opportunity for retailers to increase the customer connection. Yodel has recently conducted research into this topic and Neil Ashworth, CCO at Yodel, shares some of the findings into how retailers can utilise mobile technology to reduce failed deliveries and improve the customer experience.

Topics across all aspect of retailing including connecting with customers and delivery will be discussed in depth at the InternetRetailing Expo. The UK’s largest multichannel retail event, the InternetRetailing Expo is taking place at Birmingham’s NEC on 21 – 22 March 2018. The InternetRetailing team looks forward to seeing you there.

Emma Herrod

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