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We compare customer loyalty programmes

Posted  December 14, 2016

How many do you have in your wallet, really?

With so many South African retailers now offering benefits cards and rewards programmes, you now need an extra wallet to store all those extra bits of plastic (this blog writer certainly does). And yet, when we may sign up for whatever programme is on offer, we often have no idea how it works or how it stacks up against other programmes from competing retailers.

In this blog, we cut through the clutter of rewards programmes to see how they compare and work out a strategy for earning more points for your buck.

These are the programmes we investigated:

Pick n Pay Smart Shopper With a Smart Shopper card, you earn points as you shop on most items in their stores (excluding items like fuel, prescription medicine, tobacco products and baby formula), and you can take advantage of other special offers for card holders.

Timeframe: earn as you spend, then claim when you want to.

Rewards: For every R1 you spend on most items in store, you receive one point. You can earn bonus points on selected, marked products. 1 000 points can be converted into R10 of spending money. You have to have 500 points in your account to cash out, and you can cash out in increments of 100 points.

Extras: Regular discount vouchers via the Smart Shopper app or kiosk.

Woolworths WRewards card With a Woolworths WRewards card, you can save up to 20% on selected items in the store – including groceries, clothing, homeware and beauty products.

Timeframe: Instant.

Rewards: up to 20% off selected items, depending on the offer and how much you spend at Woolworths every year, which places you in one of three WRewards tiers. Higher tiers receive extra discounts – and if you pay with credit on your store card, you can also receive additional discounts.

Extras: Birthday voucher and “welcome to tier” voucher.

The Dis-Chem Loyalty Benefits ProgrammeDis-Chem’s Loyalty Benefits Programme rewards you as you spend on most items in their stores (excluding items like baby formula, gift cards and prescription medicine). The programme is also connected to a number of partner programmes, with which you can exchange points.

Timeframe: Earn as you spend, then claim when you want to.

Rewards: You earn 1.5% of the purchase price when you spend money at Dis-Chem. So for each R100 you spend, you earn R1.50 – or 150 points. You need 750 points to cash out and the points do not expire.

Extras: If you elect to receive notifications on email or SMS, you will be alerted to other special offers and competitions for card holders. You will also get discounts on beauty treatment vouchers, and if you are expecting a baby, you can sign up for the Dis-Chem Baby Programme.

The Clicks ClubCard The Clicks ClubCard lets you swipe to earn points, which can then be converted into vouchers. You earn points on most items, excluding gift cards and medication.

Timeframe: You earn points as you spend, but can only cash out your vouchers if you earn 100 points in each two-month period. If not, your points rollover.

Rewards: For every R5 you spend, you earn one point. 100 points gets you R10 back, but as explained above, you have to get 100 points in a two-month period to be allowed to cash out your vouchers.

Extras: There are special offers for ClubCard holders from time to time, and you can also spend and earn points at partner stores.

Checkers EeziCoupons Instead of a card, Checkers offers customers Checkers EeziCoupons, which are savings on specific products. EeziCoupons can be accessed on the internet, with an app or on your cellphone via a USSD code.

The My SPAR Rewards programme Until recently, some individual Spar franchises each had their own points-based store cards, but 18 months ago, Spar launched a national rewards programme, which comes with a keyring sized card (although you can simply enter your cell number at the point of sale if you don’t have the card) that provides you with electronic coupons on up to 30 products each month.

Our conclusionsEach rewards programme calculates benefits and points differently to the next. The retailers convert money to points and then points back to cash again, which makes it complicated to work out which provides the best value, rand for rand. In addition, half the programmes now offer targeted discounts rather than points back on all purchases, so it’s impossible to calculate the comparative value of a potential discount at one store versus points earned at another.

Here’s how to get the most out of your rewards programme:

  • Familiarise yourself with all the programme’s terms and conditions, so that you understand any benefits and restrictions, and how to make them work for you.
  • If any of your programmes are tiered, then try to shop at that retailer as much as possible, in order to move up through the tiers and claim additional benefits.
  • Having said that, don’t spend more to try to reach a specific tier – your rewards programme should work for you, not the other way around.
  • Know when points or vouchers expire, so that you don’t lose them.
  • Don’t be fooled if your rewards programme offers you additional points if you buy on credit. The interest you will be charged will probably cost you more than any saving.
  • Sign up for the email and SMS notifications so that you don’t miss special offers.

However, the single biggest thing to bear in mind when working your rewards programme is that no incentive should dictate where you shop. Points and discounts are lovely things that make you feel good about spending, but shopping comparatively will still ensure that you save the most money. Simply put: see your rewards programme as a bonus, not as an incentive.

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