back to article Loyalty card? Really? Why data-slurping store cards need a reboot

Loyalty cards – the little buggers are everywhere these days. When British supermarket chain Tesco launched its Clubcard back in 1995, it was a forward-looking idea, so much so that Lord Ian MacLaurin, then Tesco chairman, suggested that he knew more about his customers after three months than he did after 30 years in the retail …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We know what you ate last Summer.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      "We know what you ate last Summer."

      Polonium-210 doped salt fish?

      spoiler alert

      1. Duffaboy

        Re: "We know what you ate last Summer."

        I correct you

        "We all Know what you spent last summer"

    2. Mage Silver badge

      It's dishonestly marketed

      Customers are only clearly told of the "club points", the discounts but not the privacy busting tracking.

      Any NFC version should only store a unique serial number.

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Devil

      Quoth the App: "Hi Hannibal. Would you like a nice Chianti to go with those fava beans? We have some excellent ones on sale in aisle 4."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Pint

        "A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Download our Recipes app and learn 5 delicious ways to cook brains!"

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Just digging deeper here

    This whole article filled with buzzwords and dripping with false solicitude is just explaining how Big Business is pushing for the next step : having a truly global view of our spending habits.

    For now, Business is limited to a per-shop knowledge base, they want to go global. Of course, it is entirely for our sake (cough).

    So, in future, look for not needing to sign up to a loyalty scheme anymore, it will come automatically integrated with your VISA or Master Card.

    I'll bet Big Business is already frothing at the mouth with the idea of all that sweet, sweet marketing and profiling data it is going to get its hands on.

    Because you know it's going to happen.

    1. paulf Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Just digging deeper here

      I'd suggest it has already happened with things like Halifax Cashback Extras where your spending profile on the debit card at all merchants is used by the bank to target you with offers. For now it's opt in but I'm sure it's only a matter of time before that opt-in box is automatically ticked to borg the bloody lot of you "improve the customer experience".

      I still don't see why they bother though. Nectar might only have one supermarket in it (the former Sainsbury's Reward card) but they have various other retailers so can pick up lots of data. I use mine only in JS and spend about £50/week, very occasionally spending £80 to refill the freezer, yet every week I get a voucher promising bonus points for spending more than £90. They know I almost never get anywhere close to that amount and must assume I sneak off to the other supermarket nearby to do another full shop. If they gave me a bonus for spending £60 I'd be able to use it most of the time while also subtly increasing my spend with them - i.e. it would be successful. Getting vouchers I definitely cannot use means I won't even try so it doesn't increase my loyalty which was surely the whole point in the first place.

      TL;DR: Simply put after 20 years of harvesting and deep analysis of all this big data they still don't understand the data they have, and they definitely cannot put it to effective use to increase how much people spend with them (at least in my case).

      1. TheProf

        Re: Just digging deeper here

        "I get a voucher promising bonus points for spending more than £90."

        I get vouchers and they offer a 15% discount on my shopping. The spend to qualify has inched up to £60 from about £30 a few years ago so I don't use all the vouchers Sainsburys send. However when a new film comes out on Blu-Ray I'll get that (because they're £15 everywhere) £15 of groceries and £30 of wine.

        All this and Nectar know in return: where I live and what I buy.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Just digging deeper here

        "If they gave me a bonus for spending £60 I'd be able to use it most of the time while also subtly increasing my spend with them "

        Morrisons used to be like that. Loyalty card not needed in this case, but whatever you spent, you'd get a voucher offering money off or card point if you spent about double the amount next time. I've noticed recently that the vouchers are now set at a much much lower target spend for "next shop", but also with smaller rewards. It does mean that I can use them sometime though, so that's a win for me and them,

      3. Kiwi Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Just digging deeper here @paulf

        yet every week I get a voucher promising bonus points for spending more than £90.

        You do realise that the average shopping is probably around the £80-£85 mark.. But by inducing gullible supplicants people to spend more offering rewards for purchasing just one or two extra items, they get you over that point which really is only just a little more than what you'd normally spend, and you get all those lovely rewards that almost cover half the cost of the extra you purchased!

        And hey, if food goes off in your fridge because you're buying a little more than you need each week, who cares? They got your money, what you do with the food is your business.

        I saw this often with a couple of fuel brands with my bike, the reward started at $20 and my bike took $18 of fuel. I approached them to see if they'd give motorcyclists a little leeway since most couldn't take that much fuel back then, but they wouldn't budge. I know a number of bikers who won't shop with that brand any more. When broke I've also taken a couple of retailers to task for trying to push "only an extra $5" on people. When broke or on a very tight budget, $5 is a hell of a lot!

      4. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Just digging deeper here

        I usually spend between £10-£15 in Sainsburys when I go there, and get a voucher for extra points if I spend more than £30. I managed to use it once when I bought some one-off non food stuff, but otherwise, £30 of food in one go is going to mostly end up in the bin.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This whole article filled with buzzwords

      Article? I thought my ad blocker stopped working.

      1. Repnescasb
        Coat

        Re: This whole article filled with buzzwords

        Boo. I had "devops" on bullshit bingo and it never came up :-(

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: This whole article filled with buzzwords

        "Article? I thought my ad blocker stopped working."

        I thought it was a sketch for a dystopian novel.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Just digging deeper here

      "I'll bet Big Business is already frothing at the mouth with the idea of all that sweet, sweet marketing and profiling data it is going to get its hands on."

      Why does it only hear what it wants to hear and not what it needs to hear? e.g. Slinging advertising at satisfaction surveys at me just pisses me off so don't try it."

  3. Winkypop Silver badge
    Stop

    Nope

    No loyalty cards for me.

    They can pay ME for access to my shopping habits, however I don't come cheap.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nope

      Actually what they are doing is paying you for the information in the form of 'discounts'.

      So what this means in effect is that they are penalising you for *not* giving them your information and so they are then operating a Two-Tier Discriminatory pricing regiime.

    2. mdava

      Re: Nope

      They are paying you - it's up to you to decide whether it is worth it.

      I've had one-and-a-half free tvs and three free radios out of Nectar Card (as well as various smaller things, days out etc). To me that's acceptable.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nope

        Done a good deal of my Crimble shopping with my Nectar points. Most of my spend was not in the store but on Petrol/Diesel. Yes I did a lot of miles for my job.

        That and my Boots card are my only 'loyalty' cards.

        Got in with some stuff from Homebase before they stop taking it on 31st Dec. I guess the new Aussie owners will be starting their own system in the new year?

        The sad fact is that they send you tokens for say '7p per Litre off fuel' if you spend £20 on cleaning materials. They know full well that I'd just bought a load of Persil.

        That's targetted marketing for you eh?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nope

          "[...] my Boots card are my only 'loyalty' cards."

          Boots Advantage scheme was a scam as far as I am concerned. They used to give over 60s a 10% cash discount on Boots own brand products. Then they announced an "improved" discount - no longer cash but points. However as their helpline shame-facedly admitted - the points were worth far less than the 10% cash had been.

          Then they started refusing to give points for purchases of large boxes of branded medical products - because they stocked them on the pharmacy shelves. The far less economical smaller boxes were on normal shelves and did get points. The same applied to being able to use your points - the large boxes could not be paid for using points.

          Their own brand products for generic things like aspirin turned out to be twice as expensive compared to the nearby independent small pharmacy.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Nope

          "The sad fact is that they send you tokens for say '7p per Litre off fuel' if you spend £20 on cleaning materials. They know full well that I'd just bought a load of Persil.

          That's targetted marketing for you eh?"

          Probably. They hope you'll think it was generous of them so they must be really nice people and it's just a pity you won't be able to use them - which they already know and assume it'll cost them nothing.

      2. 's water music Silver badge

        Re: Nope

        I've had one-and-a-half free tvs and three free radios out of Nectar Card

        I had half a TV once. I'm not saying it wasn't cheap but it was a bit shit all told and I don't think I would go for it again.

        1. mdava

          Re: Nope

          I had half a TV once. I'm not saying it wasn't cheap but it was a bit shit all told and I don't think I would go for it again.

          Well, it probably wasn't the best TV on the market, but for the price it was unbeatable. Both TVs are still in use after 1 and 3 years (approximately) respectively, so they can't be that bad (or maybe my standards are just low).

        2. David 132 Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Nope

          I had half a TV once. I'm not saying it wasn't cheap but it was a bit shit all told

          Was it the selection of programs?

          - The One Ronnie

          - Not The 4:30 News

          - The 0.5 Show

          And as for the film choices... The Magnificent 3.5 was a bit weak, and the less said about The Hateful Four, the better...

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Re: Nope

            The One Ronnie was an actual programme

      3. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: Nope

        I've had one-and-a-half free tvs and three free radios out of Nectar Card (as well as various smaller things, days out etc). To me that's acceptable.

        But you didn't. This is the wonders of distraction or step-removal psychology.

        Free is free, as in you got something genuinely for free. When you use a loyalty card or similar the fees for this, as in the perceived value of the loyalty rewards or points you are given come from somewhere. The subscribers, who are the stores not you, have to factor in the cost of these points and rewards and therefore have to either reduce their profit on your purchases or to absorb the costs and you can guess what happens here because the supposed gains from loyalty will rarely equal or exceed the costs of the scheme compared to the additional profit that they make from you through encouraging you to spend more with them. So what generally happens is the cost of the items for sale are slowly increased to cover the cost of the loyalty points or rewards while keeping the previous level of margin.

        In the end the loyalty cards are adding to the cost of whatever's for sale (and this includes the "cash back credit cards which work similarly"). If you chose not to take part in the scheme but still buy the products or services that include this cost within it then in you are in fact funding the scheme for others. Many of these schemes would probably fail, or have to be significatly rebalanced, if everybody participated in the value that can be recovered from them.

    3. Eric Olson

      Re: Nope

      No loyalty cards for me.

      They can pay ME for access to my shopping habits, however I don't come cheap.

      What do you think your bank, the credit card processors, and others who handle your transactions do with your data in aggregate?

      Unless you operate with straight cash, the data points your generate are being sold to the highest bidders (every bidder, probably). Even with cash, your tab has a lot of data on it that will be used to give someone else a discount (hrm, lotion and tissues are often purchased together...)

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

        Re: Nope

        "What do you think your bank, the credit card processors, and others who handle your transactions do with your data in aggregate?"

        Not all that much to aggregate when you use mainly cash.

        1. Eric Olson

          Re: Nope

          Not all that much to aggregate when you use mainly cash.
          Not true, unless you believe that a store doesn't track all items in a purchase regardless of payment type. Not to mention all the metadata, such as store location, time of day, week, and month, etc. Even if you are using only cash, people with similar habits are going to be correlated with you, and your data will be aggregated with there own, if maybe given a little less weight because of the way in which it was matched.

          And let's not forget that your bank knows who you are... and even if you are conducting most business in cash, they can still get back to you (or people like you) and offer up products, services, etc. that they think match your profile base on demographics. It might not be as personalized, perhaps... though even today most campaigns are pretty broad-brushed in their approach to "personalization."

  4. Chazmon

    Amazon is way over the line into creepy but their recommendations are not what keeps me loyal. What keeps me loyal is the ease of use of the site and a feeling (not necessarily backed up by facts) that they are more secure than the smaller sites.

    That said I have done extremely well out of Nectar points especially on double up events and cinema trips which I consider a fair exchange for knowing what I buy,

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Amazon

      Completely the opposite for me. I'd rather shop anywhere else, even if it involves paying a small premium. Amazon is definitely the last point of call when all else fails.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Amazon's recommendations are way over the line into ludicrous. If that's the best that can be done we're safe for the moment.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Actually, apart from their perceived Evilness or otherwise, I buy so much stuff from Amazon that their recommendations are actually getting quite good these days.

      1. hitmouse

        They have gotten worse for me over the years. For the last year they've been advertising Kindle titles to me in the Kindle app that's already holding those titles. So they're good at picking what I like if it 100% matches what I've already bought from them.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          It's funny since I bought some photo papers and inks Amazon suggests me to buy the same printer I bought from it a year earlier... or when I bought a CPU and they wanted to sell me more CPUs...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I buy so much stuff from Amazon that their recommendations are actually getting quite good these days."

        IIRC Amazon used to publish recommendation book lists compiled by other customers. These introduced me to a lot of relevant titles that were no longer in print but which could often be bought from online book sellers.

        Ebay was amusing yesterday. They have a "people who bought this also buy" recommendation system. I bought a b&w school picture - which triggered recommendations for a list of old fashioned soft pr0n pictures of women - presumably a sideline/mainstay of that dealer's stock. Must admit a CD of all the 1970s Mayfair magazines was tempting as an historical record of more innocent times.

    4. jasper pepper

      Try the smaller sites. Lots of stuff sold on Amazon is actually sold by third-parties but at a higher price than the third-parties own site (well, they have to cover the cost Amazons fees somehow).

      So, if you see something you like on Amazon check the sellers name on google, look for a similarly named site and check the item there. You may well save yourself 10% or more.

      1. MrT

        "Try the smaller sites."

        Absolutely - Plenty of times I've ended up paying more than the delivery charge less than the Amazon listing, and many of the retailers I've used offer discounts to go direct and avoid going through their own Amazon storefront.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If I WANT a stubble-faced guy in a greasy raincoat to follow me around

    I'll contact my local paedo.

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: If I WANT a stubble-faced guy in a greasy raincoat to follow me around

      Consider the average El Reg reader and the average Marketing person. Which one do you think is more likely to have the stubble and raincoat?

      1. a pressbutton

        Re: If I WANT a stubble-faced guy in a greasy raincoat to follow me around

        No offence to marketing persons, but I would rather have someone like me following me around.

        it could come in handy ... like carrying heavy shopping

      2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: If I WANT a stubble-faced guy in a greasy raincoat to follow me around

        @Adam 52

        What about Reg Hacks?

        https://regmedia.co.uk/media/186.jpg

        (Ok, Lucy Sherriff excepted - she's not wearing a coat)

        icon - greasy raincoat

  6. Grikath Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Or... don't do either cards or IoT, flip the finger, and live a happy life without being Analised by the Marketeers.

    But that, of course, is not how forward-thinking people are supposed to Do Things..

  7. The Wild Tomcat

    "Loyalty"?

    The only reason I use my grocery retailer's "loyalty" card is that I get whacked with a 20% price increase if I don't.

    "Loyalty"? Um, no.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: "Loyalty"?

      I tend to shop at the same place a lot.

      Loyalty? No,

      Habit? Certainly.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: "Loyalty"?

      20% increase?

      Please tell us what store this is so that we can avoid it like the plague.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Loyalty"?

        "Please tell us what store this is so that we can avoid it like the plague."

        Well - Waitrose has a loyalty scheme where you can nominate several products from a selected range - and get 20% off every time you buy them. You can change your choices every three months. That is in addition to any regular discounts for presenting their loyalty card at the checkout - plus free tea and coffee.

        It does annoy me too. I refuse to be tracked - even though I could save quite a bit by succumbing to their blandishments. As for loyalty - I've shopped at my local branch since they opened 40 years ago.

        1. Korev Silver badge

          Re: "Loyalty"?

          I've heard of people with roughly the same weekly spend trade cards every few months to get around being tracked, maybe you could try that.

      2. Tikimon Silver badge

        Re: "Loyalty"?

        In my area, Kroger. The store is full of price tags that have "with card" under them. Without the card? Much bigger price.

        Which is why I simply don't shop there. They're effectively a membership store, where non-members are screwed on price.

    3. Kiwi Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: "Loyalty"?

      The only reason I use my grocery retailer's "loyalty" card is that I get whacked with a 20% price increase if I don't.

      Maybe you should change things a bit. Perhaps instead of the bigbox chains, look to smaller retailers. You might find a greengrocer charges a tiny bit more, but the quality of their worst produce is far above what the best bigbox spewfest offers. And as to their meat... Did you know that mince can be tasty, largely fat-free, and just so much better if you buy it from a real butcher instead of that gunk they put out at the big supermarkets? And whereas the supermarket might sell it to you for $9.99/kg the butcher will be $10 or $11/kg. But the butcher's stuff won't be 20% fat and 50% you-don't-want-to-know!

      Oh, and your local butcher/greengrocer will quickly get to know you, what you like, and will start to offer you personal specials. All without "loyalty cards" and all because they're loyal to their customers and like to know their regulars.

      Avoid that place you mentioned. Shop around. Go to smaller places. Get much more out of your money.

  8. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    "These messages could be to alert a customer that they've left their umbrella in the shop"

    Presumably this will be the glorious future where each item has a chip in that links it to back to its owner.

    1. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

      Re: "These messages could be to alert a customer that they've left their umbrella in the shop"

      I think this was specifically about the shops in wherever-it-was than a feature of all the schemes. From the description, it sounded like the shops involved were more of the 'been in the area for years and provide a decent specialized service' type of place than the 'maximise footfall to maximise profit and who cares if we sell what the customer really wants' behaviour I see so often in "super"markets...

      Bookshops, record shops, toy & hobby shops, craft shops - all driven out of business by the big stores who then drop the interesting stuff because "there's so little profit in it"... Citation; there used to be a decent games shop in Kingston called 'The Games Castle' that stocked all sorts of fun stuff from board and card games to foreign games and role-playing games which lost most of their trade to the Virgin Megastore that opened just around the corner and undercut them on most stuff by about 10-15%. Until VM drove the TGC out of business and then dropped the non-computer games stuff to a half-wall rack which then disappeared completely - all over the space of about a year and a half.

      I prefer to pay slightly over the odds and buy from local retailers wherever possible but finding anywhere not part of some huge conglomerate is getting harder and harder...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "These messages could be to alert a customer that they've left their umbrella in the shop"

        "I prefer to pay slightly over the odds and buy from local retailers wherever possible but finding anywhere not part of some huge conglomerate is getting harder and harder..."

        Unfortunately the same stores are open 9-5:30 6 days a week. As I'm not a pensioner, that leaves Saturday. As I'm busy 9am to 1pm Saturday. that leaves a 4 hour window to shop.

        I find more random stuff I want on Amazon and eBay, than I ever did from local shops.

        In order to survive, they need to adapt. Maybe open later and close later on certain days, do mail order, set up a website (you don't have to be able to buy it, just at least let me know what you do).

        Make it nice to visit your shop, a cramped dusty bookstore maybe some peoples idea of a great place, but for many others it will be a complete turn off.

        And customer service is everything! If I find it easier to get a refund from Amazon than your shop, you are doing something wrong.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: "These messages could be to alert a customer that they've left their umbrella in the shop"

          In order to survive, they need to adapt. Maybe open later and close later on certain days, do mail order, set up a website (you don't have to be able to buy it, just at least let me know what you do).

          I lived in a small town some years ago and a gentleman opened a music (recorded) store. His hours, unlike everyone else's 9-5, were from noon to nine at night. Open 6 days a week. He'd match prices with the big store in town (Wal-Mart) and also order any music he didn't carry. He did so well that the local Wally World basically couldn't compete.

          The other local stores didn't get it and many didn't last very long. For example, guy opened a sporting goods store selling a lot items targeted a kids. His hours... 9-5 and only open during the week. No weekends. He disappeared rather quickly.

          I agree, understanding your customer base is everything.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: "These messages could be to alert a customer that they've left their umbrella in the shop"

          "As I'm not a pensioner, that leaves Saturday. As I'm busy 9am to 1pm Saturday. that leaves a 4 hour window to shop.

          I find more random stuff I want on Amazon and eBay, than I ever did from local shops."

          I am a pensioner and all too often I find myself going to the trading sheds, coming home empty-handed, going to Amazon or eBay to find whatever it was I wanted and reminding myself to not bother next time.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          shopping local

          My Local butchers (as seen on Dragons Den) opens at 07:30 (if not earlier) on a Saturday.

          I've done my weekly shop at the supermarket (opens at 07:00) and I call in to get my meat and am home having breakfast by 07:45. Well before the familes with uncontrollable kids get to the store.

          That gives me the day to do other things like going swimming at 09:00-10:00 and taking the dog for a walk.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "These messages could be to alert a customer that they've left their umbrella in the shop"

          "As I'm busy 9am to 1pm Saturday. that leaves a 4 hour window to shop."

          You are lucky they don't close from lunchtime on Saturday too. Several of our independent high street shops still follow the tradition of closing for a half or full day in the week - although they are no longer synchronised. Closing for lunch seems no longer to be a business practice.

          In the 1950s our GP surgery also observed that weekday half-day closing with no evening surgery. My minor accident on the way home from school at lunchtime meant first aid at the ambulance station.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "These messages could be to alert a customer that they've left their umbrella in the shop"

      "Presumably this will be the glorious future where each item has a chip in that links it to back to its owner."

      Nah - they'll just look up your DNA traces on the Government database.

  9. Dwarf Silver badge

    Stick it on the mobile

    So we can write a crappy application that we claim benefits you, the consumer and has absolutely nothing to do with our efforts to try and pilfer other information we don't currently have access, but is stored on your phone.

    The whole "loyalty" thing is BS. I suspect that like most, I have no loyalty to any brand, however those who don't muck me about and sell me a good product and have good after sales service might get some repeat business at some point in the future. Note I didn't say price in that sentence.

    I maintain a purchasing blacklist of people who've given very bad service. People like Philips are on this list after they tried to charge me about £300 to repair a CD writer that was two days out of warranty. This was in the days when they cost £500 a pop. Now they don't even sell me light bulbs.

    Its the same with Sony after 3 successive products were either junk or tried to install malware on my PC.

    1. Kiwi Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Stick it on the mobile @ Dwarf

      Its the same with Sony after 3 successive products were either junk or tried to install malware on my PC.

      And I thought I was forgiving. You gave Sony 3 chances? Wow!

      [El Reg, we could use a better icon that expresses extreme levels of surprise/shock! Please fix ASAP!]

  10. David Roberts Silver badge

    Part way there already

    I recently started using an app called Beep&Go on my phone.

    Nothing sophisticated - it just photographs the bar code on your loyalty card then displays it for the scanner in the shop.

    Saves me loads of time plus I don't have to carry a second wallet for all the plastic.

    Works for my library card as well.

    Yes, I am a loyalty card victim, but there is technology available to help.

    A fully electronic wallet would be even easier but a low tech approach has removed the biggest hurdle; sifting through all the bloody plastic.

    1. John 110

      Re: Part way there already

      If I'm already fishing about for my phone, I might as well just scan the dangling thingy (ooer missus) on my car keys. Actually my car keys are easier to find than my phone, what with them digging into my leg an all. And I don't have to press any buttons and enter a code onto the lock screen before I can run the app...

      (what is thees obsession with the mobile phone...)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Part way there already

        agree, i dont see what the obsession is about getting everything on the phone. In its current usage it isnt convenient at all compared to the alternatives.

        Just to compare the loyalty cards, whats easier, taking out you wallet, take out your card, present it. Or takeout you phone, unlock your phone, run the app, select the card, present the phone for scanning, that is if your phone hasnt run out of power.

        Which one fits the old saying, KISS?

        It isnt about the customer, its about the want to increase the information collected, such as location,contacts etc, also its about reducing their costs, its cheaper for them to make an app than it is to have loyalty cards made (i know, i work at a company that makes both)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Part way there already

          "Just to compare the loyalty cards, whats easier, taking out you wallet, take out your card, present it"

          It is a regular thing to be held up at the checkout by the following sequence:

          1) The shopper's companion returning several times with more things to add to their pile.

          2) Slowly packing all their goods in their bags before dealing with the payment. Finding they need more 5p bags for the packing.

          3) Remembering they have a sheaf of discount vouchers - somewhere. When finally found most of them turn out to be ineligible or out of date.

          4) Rummaging for their loyalty card

          5) Agonising about whether to choose a free coffee or tea.

          6) Then rummaging through their bag for their purse to find their credit card.

          7) Finally remembering they have a free car parking token which needs to be validated at the checkout.

          The "basket only" quick queue also sells cigarettes and lottery tickets. It is not unusual for someone to produce a sheaf of lottery tickets for the assistant to check if any are winners - before they then buy a new set. One day a woman was carrying a couple of items in her hands - and then proceeded to unload the rest from the luggage rack on her child's pushchair.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Part way there already

            ".......3) Remembering they have a sheaf of discount vouchers - somewhere. When finally found most of them turn out to be ineligible or out of date"

            change 4 to a phone

            4) Rummaging for their phone

            4a) looking for the app on their phone

            4b) app not starting as their is no signal so cant connect to their servers

            4c) attempting to connect the local wifi

            4d) running the app still not working says no connection

            4e) try browsing, go to the shops logon page

            4f) attempt to logon

            4g) attempt to run the app again

            5......

        2. LDS Silver badge

          "i dont see what the obsession is about getting everything on the phone"

          I do see it. It gives access to a lot of more data a plain, simple dumb card doesn't. Geolocation, contacts, internet activity....

          Read the truly scaring part where they plan to track your Internet activity to offer you "customized offers".... "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse"....

        3. Kiwi Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Part way there already

          Just to compare the loyalty cards, whats easier, taking out you wallet, take out your card, present it. Or takeout you phone, unlock your phone, run the app, select the card, present the phone for scanning, that is if your phone hasnt run out of power.

          True, you already have the wallet out and if you have it decently organised for all those cards.

          But even better yet, they could have their store system tied to your payment card. Instead of having to present 2 cards you just pay electronically, and they already know who you are and what you brought. Better still, they could have all these loyalty schemes tied in, then they could all know what you brought elsewhere so that they can compete more and get even more personal data sell you even more of what you want at even better prices!

          Of course, this would need firms capable of handling such large amounts of data. I suggest a conglomeration of Google and Microsoft - Google because they already collect shitloads of data and try to use it to sell things to you, and Microsoft because they've shown how expert they are at taking in feedback and other such information, and using it to go completely against all suggestions/logic/reality and ignore what is wanted - they'd easily outdo Amazon et al in offering you things you just purchased!

          [What's that dark portal-like thing that just appeared in my front yard? Oh, it's growing. Looks like some hellish place way way down at the bottom...]

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What loyalty, just leave me alone.

    I refuse to have loyalty cards, if a business wants my loyalty then they have to ern it and not bribe me.

    Good customer service and value for money are a good start. Plus, not asking me if I want to sign up for their card *every* damn time I visit their establishment (yes Shell, Subway, Costa and Next I’m talking about you)

    Then there’s the customer in the queue in front of you who decides to sign up there and then to get the 10% off introductory offer … and another 5 mins of my life passes me by whilst I have to wait.

    And what's this about asking for your postcode to 'improve the customer experience'. Toys R Us, it's none of your business where I live and how far I have travelled.

    1. VinceH Silver badge

      Re: What loyalty, just leave me alone.

      I've also noticed a (so far small, but it'll probably grow) trend whereby some places ask at the checkout if you'd like the receipt emailed to you - ostensibly to 'save paper' but really to:

      (a) Get an email address for marketing purposes

      (b) If you do it once, you'll do it again - and thus they'll be building up a database of your purchasing habits just like they would if you used a loyalty card.

      No, I would not like the receipt emailed to me. Print it for me now.

      1. PhilBuk

        Re: What loyalty, just leave me alone.

        Recently, most of them just ask straight out for your email address. I use the Clapper technique here and say I do not have an email address. I have about 10 but I'm not telling them that. Anyone that insists gets a left with a pile of what I was going to buy.

        Phil.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: What loyalty, just leave me alone.

      Yes it IS their business because it helps them find out what sells where which affects their ordering (purchase location can be skewed due to out of stock issues).

      Look, what will you do when (not if) EVERY STORE does it? Live without toys?

      1. Kiwi Silver badge

        Re: What loyalty, just leave me alone. @Charles 9

        Hello Mr Negative..

        Yes it IS their business because it helps them find out what sells where which affects their ordering (purchase location can be skewed due to out of stock issues).

        It's incredibly easy to gauge what is or isn't selling, and adjust your ordering appropriately. I've never worked in a sports store but I can bet that cricket bats will sell more in the last part of spring/early part of summer and rugby balls will sell most in the last part of autumn/start of winter. I'll also bet that stores in the country tend to sell more hunting/fishing stuff than stores in the middle of a city - who would probably sell more home gym equipment than their country-based counter parts. All this is based on 2 seconds thought and some basic logic, no need for loyalty cards. I'd love someone to actually confirm/deny this (and why if so)

        Look, what will you do when (not if) EVERY STORE does it? Live without toys?

        Me? I'd buck the trend, and open a store that doesn't track everything. Then I'd have a great supply of instantly loyal customers who would go out of their way to buy from me rather than purchase from local bigchain.

        We have a model store not far from me. Guy is independent, friendly, knowledgable, and if he doesn't stock it he'll offer to order it in or suggest a competitor who should have it. That level of service means he does a roaring trade and has seen of some quite big competition. He can't always compete on price, but his service (including aftersales support) means that the bigchain shitfests cannot compete for long. That is a business model worth following, and will gaurantee that when "everyone else" is trying to track their customers, he'll be buying up their empty stores and expanding his business.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Really?

    Can someone send the person that decided to publish the "article" this weeks BoFH...they need to be educated.

  13. Halcin

    Useful Article

    Why? Know your enemy.

  14. Just Enough

    AKA Money

    "People shouldn't have to carry a Costa, Starbucks and Avios card – they need some consolidation to carry less, and then the rewards could be to earn points and use them anywhere you'd like," Kumar says,"

    "Points" that you can "earn" and use anywhere you like... hmm.. why does this concept sound familiar?

    This simply sounds like money, except the shops can track who has it, and where it's getting spent. What exactly is the customer's incentive? Either just give me money, or make the items cheaper.

  15. Old69

    "[...] gathering data that helps retailers build a profile then target them with offers or incentives to come back to the shop or restaurant again."

    The only checkout offer vouchers that my Boots Advantage card elicited were usually for women's beauty products - says single male pensioner.

    I've stopped shopping at Boots because they kept reducing their Advantage card benefits - usually announced with an Orwellian claim of "improved". Now I only shop at the local independent pharmacy - who are actually cheaper than Boots own brand items.

  16. IsJustabloke Silver badge
    Stop

    I dunno why people get so worked up about shit like this...

    I have a nectar card and I have a Morrisons card.

    So what if Morrisons know what I buy in their shop? every now and again I get rewarded with a fiver off. I've been saving them up over the year and have amassed eighty quids worth of vouchers. They send me coupons, they say "spend x" more for x reward!!" and here's the science bit I just bloody ignore them if they don't interest me; works exactly the same way with my nectar card.

    I'm going to buy the things I buy whether or not I have a points card, without I'm 80 quid down.

    Amazon knows about everything I buy, I simply ignore its "Hey how about this?"

    Ebay knows about everything I buy, I simply ignore its "Hey! how about this?"

    These things only benefit the shop if they change what you shop for and how you shop for it,

    of all the stuff in the world to get excised about this has surely gotta be very low on the list.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: I dunno why people get so worked up about shit like this...

      But what if they SELL your habits? To unscrupulous but secret clubs who start mail bombing you with nonexistent return addresses and so on?

      And no, I've tried the return to sender bit. Either I get doubled down or the return gets returned because it doesn't exist. Complaining doesn't help because they play fly-by-night and keep changing addresses.

    2. Mike VandeVelde
      Big Brother

      Re: I dunno why people get so worked up about shit like this...

      But you don't really get a discount, it's just a mirage. If the loyalty program didn't exist then everything would be cheaper for everyone. It's the kind of capitalist market bloat that makes communism look sleek and nimble.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: I dunno why people get so worked up about shit like this...

        What if it was more expensive instead? You can't prove that.

  17. tiggity Silver badge

    Starbucks top?

    The following is non scientific based on sample size of one...

    I was chatting to solicitor mate of mine in the pub (and os, unlike me, earns enough to waste cash on retail outlet coffees).

    He was moaning Starbucks scheme as it was per visit based, so if he purchased a round of coffees for the office or if visiting on his own and stayed there a while working on his laptop and had multiple coffees he would just get 1 "credit" for their x credits = freebie coffee scheme ... Whereas another coffee outlet he walks to after getting into work gives him a credit per coffee.

    Hence Starbucks get his cash despite the scheme (purely based on location, he can park there near office on his commute into work without being ticketed & get a morning coffee to go)

    1. PhilBuk

      Re: Starbucks top?

      I'm seeing Starbucks and coffee in the same comment - what's the relevance?

      Phil.

  18. DrXym Silver badge

    Amazon Prime is a loyalty program?

    I thought it was a something people paid for. In return they get free P&P on a bunch of stuff and a bag of other random benefits.

    1. VinceH Silver badge

      Re: Amazon Prime is a loyalty program?

      Quite. Given that the real purpose of these schemes is to help the retailer build up a profile on customers, classing Amazon Prime as one is completely nonsensical.

      Since their customers have to log-in to purchase, Amazon are able to build those profiles anyway regardless of Prime membership.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just Think

    Have you ever wondered who is using your shopping data, that expensive purchase you made maybe

  20. Korev Silver badge
    Pint

    Loyalty

    My loyalty to a supermarket is only down to one of the major Swiss supermarkets not selling alcohol - I see no point in having to repeat the sheer tedium of a supermarket visit to buy booze!

  21. Scott 53
    Coat

    Am I the only one?

    "Love Hoole Loyalty Card"

    Oh, OK.

  22. not.known@this.address Bronze badge
    Big Brother

    Why not just cut the bullpucky and give us all a tattoo on our wrist so they can track us wherever we go and whatever we do...

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      It needs to be on the forehead. Pulling up shirt sleeves, jacket sleeves, etc. is rather time-consuming. On the forehead.. they can scan you as soon as you walk in the door.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Even the forehead is trouble for people with bangs. The back of the dominant hand is best because many things require a bare hand to use.

    2. DNTP

      According to the BoFH, his assistant the PFY has a bar code tattooed onto his dick that gives him a discount on birth control products. But it always scans incorrectly as "baguette, small" on the first try so he has to keep playing with it until the barcode enlarges enough to read.

  23. David Nash Silver badge

    Low Tech

    My favourite is the version used by both my local barber shop, but also by big coffee chain Nero.

    A card made of, yes, card, which gets a inked by a stamp each time you use it. 10 stamps= free item next time (coffee or haircut, as appropriate).

    Having said that I am a big Tesco clubcard user and Amazon Prime too although I tend to agree that the latter is not really a loyalty scheme. Benefits don't depend on loyalty or prior purchases, except the one that buys membership.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Low Tech

      Those cards keep getting lost or mangled, so most firms drop them unless they're too small for anything else.

  24. FraK
    Pint

    A report from . . .

    . . . mobile engagement firm "Urban Airship".

    Does Nathan Barley work there?

  25. whileI'mhere

    M&S - yes

    Marks & Spencer - yes

    Marks & Sparks - ok

    But "M&S Sparks"? NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  26. Mutton Jeff

    Tax man's dream

    Moet and foie gras every week, sir? On your declared income of £5 a week?

    1. DNTP

      Re: Tax man's dream

      Surely you jest, as a non-domiciled person* my heroically vast income gets channeled through investment schemes and offshore havens; its hardly reportable as income at all.

      *I think that's the English term for it. Over here in the US if you are intelligent enough to have that sort of lifestyle without paying the fed, the correct term is President-elect.

  27. MJI Silver badge

    Nectar

    I once got £90 back on ONE Ebuyer transaction!

    Also Homebase, Ebay, BP and Sainsburies.

    Not too bad.

    So what if they know I buy certain things, just do not use a card for anything embarrasing like US Lager.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Nectar

      Erm I do not buy it, I buy decent British Ciders

  28. PJD

    8675309

    For the supermarket ones where you get a (sometimes substantial) price difference if you use a loyalty card and where you can give them your phone number, in the US I always just use 8675309 with a local area code - it's the number from that annoying early 80s song, and *someone* has always filled in a card application using it.. You get the discount, and the store gets the most bizarre purchase logs ever (hundreds of people all using the same account..).

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: 8675309

      You mean Tommy Tutone's "Jenny". They probably recognize that and 736-5000 as well and will just work around it.

  29. Number6

    The best way to use loyalty cards is simply to take advantage of the offers. Not every store has everything we like so we have no brand loyalty as such, general groceries come from whichever one happens to be visited next for their few unique items.

    As for using an app on the phone, given the way apps seem to try to grab as many permissions as possible, usually including your phone address book, I'd refuse to have the app on my phone (I am very picky about this sort of thing now) and would much prefer a separate card. In the US they will often key the data to your phone number - I have no problem with giving them the house phone number for that, can't spam it with texts and the answering machine deals with calls from unknown numbers (many of which then get blocked).

  30. DougS Silver badge

    Beacons

    Beacon schemes like Paypal's, or Apple's renamed version of it iBeacon, are probably next once the loyalty cards become loyalty apps. They'll give you a bonus if you leave the app open on your phone while you shop, and beacons in the store will be able to tell what aisles you visit and for how long. If you linger in front of the poultry but don't buy, maybe you'll find an offer for $1 off a chicken breast when you enter the store next time.

    I've never used a loyalty card. Yeah, I could save a little money, but it isn't worth giving up personal data. I typically pay cash in the grocery store, so they can't link my purchases with my credit card either. And they ask me every time if I have their 'fuel saver' (the rewards are discounts on gasoline) card, I guess management must tell them they have to ask everyone since even the cashiers I recognize and presumably recognize me ask.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Beacons

      "If you linger in front of the poultry but don't buy, maybe you'll find an offer for $1 off a chicken breast when you enter the store next time."

      That sounds useful. I often meet someone I know in the supermarket and spend a few minutes having a conversation in some random part of the shop. If they start this, we'll just have to make sure the conversation is near somewhere we'd later like a discount. Like standing in front of the electricals or kitchen gadgets for a 5-10 minute conversation two weeks in a row. It'll all be dumb algorithms anyway so should be fairly easy to game the system by spending 10-15 mins of my life to get a £30 discount off a new food processor or microwave. Or £50 off a TV. :-)

  31. LDS Silver badge

    "Will allow retailers to be informed of when and what the customer is browsing online"

    Are they kidding? This is spyware, not a loyalty program. Will they hire Hacking Team guys to write the app? And I can also imagine the security of those data...

    Anyway, in my family the only two with a loyalty card are my mother and my sister. Both don't own a smartphone, nor plan to get one.

  32. Infernoz Bronze badge
    Mushroom

    F'em, when benefits no longer worth the effort and loss of privacy.

    Tesco card was worthless because the shop sucks.

    Holland and Barrett card only worked on-line so can't be arsed to use it even on-line now and I can buy most stuff cheaper and better quality from bulk internet retailers.

    Nectar Card benefits degraded so much, with unreasonable spending triggers or timed out too fast, and the credit card was a waste of time, so both out of my wallet.

    Bulk Powders give points on my main account and regular heavy discount promotions, so easier than a separate loyalty card.

    If benefits cards don't give me enough benefits, goodbye, I can save more with less hassle and more privacy by keeping an eye out for promotions, so what's the point.

    And frack all Social Media regs/links too cheeky fracking re-tard-tailers!

    Frack demographics, I generate plenty for view noise for ebay and amazon too, just for the hell of it.

  33. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Meh

    No Thanks

    I use small shops as much as possible for quality goods - decent ones that don't put an unreasonable mark-up on everything. Supermarkets for bulk dross - no store cards, and Amazon basic (not prime) only as a last resort. Any on-line shop that uses paypal goes on the credit card (not the debit one) and I don't have an actual paypal account.

    I recognise that 'they' will always find ways to track you but like to keep my profile as low as possible.

  34. erhumdm

    To someones point earlier - most of these "loyalty" cards are trying to recast themselves as "currency"

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've been doing it wrong?

    You mean I'm supposed to reuse the card? I thought we're supposed to get a new one every time we shop and collect them. Hunh.

  36. Kiwi Silver badge
    Stop

    Eww. Just.. Eww.

    "Whenever a transaction is recorded it goes back to our database and returns information based on the customer," he says. "This enables them to address a customer by name, and enable them to put messages onto certain customers profiles immediately."

    These messages could be to alert a customer that they've left their umbrella in the shop – or could be a note for the retailer to remember to upsell an item that wasn't there the last time the consumer was at the store.

    That's just so fucking icky I have no more words.

    "If they were at the bakers and they wanted a chocolate éclair, but the bakers didn't have it in, they could make an agreement with the consumer that they will have it in stock next time, and can market this through both email and in person when they have those éclairs in," Meakin says.

    Back in 1976 I needed something for my model trains. Mom and I went and visited a couple of model shops, neither had the part. So she asked one to order it in, and gave them our phone number. Couple of weeks later (this is the mid 70's after all!) the part arrived, the store called us..

    Simples. No need for all-you-ever-ate databases.

    Think it's back to getting cash from an ATM1 and only using that to buy things from now on. Although my bank has shown no indication that it could on-sell my purchase history (and would have to spend a moment laughing at NZ's "privacy law" to do so), or my local shops are building a profile based on my ATM card, I just don't like the idea that they could. I'll take my privacy over any supposed benefits.

    1"Automatic teller ATM machine" for those who are pissed off by such things :)

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Very poor article

    It is quite clear the author of this article has not done their research

    "loyalty" cards are not about directly generating loyalty, they are for collecting data about your client base so you can better market to them and better tailor their product, "loyalty" Cards give rewards just enough to make the customer happy to part with there data nothing more.

    The loyalty comes further down the chain once the data collected is processed in to better marketing and better product the business hopes that has understood the data correctly and this means the customer gets a better product and informed of the appropriate offers that would make them pick that business over its competitors

  38. FuzzyTheBear
    Black Helicopters

    Just say no..

    It's simple .. they track you , keep files on you , the government does too , facebook is the instrument of the US Government to keep tabs on everyone .. we wont get into Win 10 .. now the British government want to be able to lie in court .. ain't it just time to give up the net , get back into a cabin near a lake and go back to our roots ? The world they want is not the world i want to be a part of.

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