IT IS TWO decades since Boots first launched its Advantage Card loyalty scheme. Points were awarded for purchases which had to be exchanged for ‘treats’ – selected products in-store. In those early days, Boots was content to use the data generated by its card to classify its customers into such broad-brush categories as ‘deal seekers’, ‘stock pilers’ and ‘loyalists’ purely to improve their targeting of promotions. Customer segmentation was very much the name of the game.
Two decades on from that, everything’s very different. As Robin Phillips, Boots’ former director of omnichannel and development, told us last year, it is no longer about targeted CRM, but “a ‘rifle shot’ with advice, content and promotions getting increasingly granular”. As he said: “We need to track, through analytics, which content shoppers consume and their every event through to purchase. What else did they do around their mission? How can we bring them around to purchase again? We know where you are and what you last did, and we should present you with what you need next.”
With more than 15m active Advantage cardholders, Boots has plenty of varied, valid and constantly up-to-date information about shopping habits, preferences, health and beauty needs. To further engage these shoppers, the company has been adding ever-more targeted content to its website.
There is ‘Beautiful You’, for example, a questionnaire which helps identify skin type in order to recommend a personal ‘Beauty Cabinet’ of products. There’s also ‘Health Coach’, a personalised app based on an in-store consultation, to help individuals maintain a specific fitness or therapeutic regime. Online content and services include plenty of health advice, a link through to BootsWebMD.com which provides more specific medical information, a ‘Health and Beauty’ magazine, and an online prescription service that makes getting repeat medication a little easier.
Customer reviews – both good and bad – are readily accessible on the site and the Boots app also delivers personalised offers based on Advantage Card records, as well as appointments booking for pharmacy or beauty services. In-store, staff are equipped with IBM’s SalesAssistant system – a tablet-based app – which provides access to the full Boots range, even in its smallest outlets, enabling staff to order items for next-day collection as customers require. As Phillips said at its launch: “It allows our colleagues to quickly show product information, ratings and reviews, look up inventory online and make recommendations based on online analytics, all from the shop floor… It’s about making big corporate Boots feel more like myBoots.”
Twenty years on, using a handful of customer segments as a targeting tool no longer meets customer expectations. By analysing the data more completely and assessing each customer’s needs, personalisation and individual offers are what the Advantage Card delivers today.