From collating points and cashback to product previews and special offers, reward cards have played a prominent part in customer loyalty over the past few years and their importance will continue to grow.

Shoppers are savvier than ever before and they need reasons not only to shop with you over a competitor, but also reasons to carry your card and see a benefit from using it at point of purchase.

Purses and wallets are heaving with loyalty cards and retailers need to ensure customers find space in there for theirs, and the way to do that is to make sure shoppers feel the value of using the card.

It is much harder for stores that have a lower frequency of visits and/or a low basket value, as standard points don’t accumulate quickly enough for customers to see the benefit.

In my opinion, Starbucks and Nando’s are good examples of those using loyalty and rewards really well.

“Some retailer loyalty cards don’t go beyond storing receipts and maybe offering a voucher for free cake every now and again – so their customers don’t feel they are getting ‘value’ back, which is exactly what we don’t want”

While they tend to have a relatively low basket value, the free coffee or meal redemption on the 10th purchase is a great incentive, particularly with coffee, as some customers will be redeeming a free coffee every one or two weeks, and I for one love the feeling of handing over my fully stamped digital card.

Some retailer loyalty cards don’t go beyond storing receipts and maybe offering a voucher for free cake every now and again – so their customers don’t feel they are getting ‘value’ back, which is exactly what we don’t want.

At Superdrug we do a number of things to make our Health & Beautycard holders feel the value of shopping with us – while we offer a points scheme, we have a number of other initiatives as value means different things to different shoppers.

We find exclusive promotions that make our members feel like VIPs work well. We also offer Swipe to Win; this is a chance to win an instant prize for simply shopping using your Health & Beautycard.

This not only has the traditional tone of Surprise and Delight but is incredibly sharable, and in today’s world of social media, that is a huge opportunity.

Relationships and value

Our Swipe to Win offers customers the chance to win their shopping basket absolutely free. This is activated at the checkout, so for some customers it might be a 99p facemask, but for others it could mean fragrance, electricals or their entire toiletry shop.

This experience is sharable and memorable – ultimately creating the higher-level emotional relationship that every retailer is yearning for.

For retailers, the purpose of loyalty schemes remains the same – data is precious.

The big boys such as supermarkets, in particular Tesco, show us the value of data at scale. Tesco sends highly personalised, relevant offers and incentives that not only keep customers loyal but look to increase the breadth of their shop.

‘Indirect value’ is perhaps where there is the most to gain. Data can now be used to understand customer behaviour at a deeper level via the use of data scientists.

Retailers are teaming up these individuals to harness this opportunity and convert it into something that can deliver real value back to a business; for example, store location planning, in-store micro/macro space planning and, of course, breadth and depth of ranges.

At Superdrug we have already started to do this and are excited about the opportunities this offers us.