Tag: smart shopper

PnP under fire for Smart Shopper points

When Pick n Pay introduced its rewards programme, Smart Shopper, in 2011, its success was so stunning it took the retailer by surprise.

For every R100 spent, shoppers would receive R1 back in cash-back points, which were initially valid for three years. On certain items, it offered double or triple points, or instant savings. It’s no surprise that Smart Shopper has been voted the country’s favourite rewards programme.

The impact on the bottom line forced the retailer to reassess its offering to its 10-million-plus card-holding customers, so last April, it halved the value: for every R200 spent, customers receive R1 in cash-back vouchers.

On January 1 this year, PnP introduced a new policy, expiring Smart Shopper points 12 months after they were earned.

The move’s not gone down well with many shoppers.

David Ramsay wrote to complain: “I have been an active customer at Pick ‘n Pay for as long as I can remember. I am in my 60s and, although working, I was saving up my points for a small LCD TV.

“In December, I had accumulated R557-odd and was making good progress on my goal. I received an SMS on January 18 informing me to redeem 2513 points that will expire on February 1. I subsequently went to Pick n Pay on January 20 and received a payout of R176. This is definitely not the way to treat loyal customers but I’m sure there are thousands out there with the same gripe.”

David White, who described himself as “disgusted”, wrote: “At the end of last year Pick n Pay took about R400 off my Smart Shopper account without any warning. They have been emailing me every week with details of the special offers that have been available for loading for that week onto my Smart Shopper card.

“They at no stage, however, took the trouble to mention that I had R400 of Smart Shopper points that were going to expire at the end of 2017, and that I needed to convert these points into cash and use them by the end of the year. I now feel that I have been robbed.

“They have been advising us that points expire after one year, but we had no way of knowing when the year was up for these points and when we needed to spend the money by.”

But PnP says it has done all it could to inform customers. The head of marketing, John Bradshaw explained: “We have tried to make sure customers know that their points last a year from the day they are earned.

“We first informed Smart Shoppers about this in November 2016 and have been communicating about expiry across personal emails and SMSes.

“We also realised that some customers may have opted out of receiving emails or SMSes from us, so we put reminders about points lasting a year on till slips too – from early December last year on every till slip across all stores.”

Email fatigue is a factor, which is why so many of us opt out of communication: we simply don’t pay attention to SMSes, or e-mails because much of it is spam. And not many read their till slips thoroughly, so barring tellers being instructed to inform each shopper personally, which is a big ask, it’s down to customers to ensure that they read communications from the retailer.

After all, if you’ve signed up for a rewards programme, you might want to take note.

Bradshaw says the way to avoid forfeiting the points is to exchange them for vouchers or cash before they expire, which will extend their validity to three years.

PnP’s also introduced new technology to communicate with customers on a more personalised level, Bradshaw says, which means they will be told when and how many of their points will be expiring.

“We do hope this will mean customers make the best use of their points. You can see this at the top of our weekly e-mail, for those customers who have given us permission to contact them via e-mail. We would encourage our customers to check how they’ve selected the form of communication they’d prefer so that they don’t miss out on important information, or great deals.”

I also don’t look at e-mails from retailers, but noticed on my most recent Smart Shopper mail that it didn’t mention when the points would expire, only that they would.

Same with the till slip. It’s a crucial detail: without telling consumers when they are about to expire, they aren’t likely to pay enough attention to the message.

By Georgina Crouth for Supermarket & Retailer

Pick n Pay slashes Smart Shopper rewards

Pick n Pay has overhauled its Smart Shopper loyalty programme, halving the value of the cash rewards but saying it is making the rewards more personal and easier to access.

Early indications on social media are that the changes to the most popular customer loyalty programme in the country have not been well received.

Smart Shopper, which was launched amid much fanfare in 2011 and which was considered to be one of the more generous retail loyalty programmes, played a critical role in Pick n Pay’s turnaround by helping to lift top-line performance almost immediately. But it was less helpful to the bottom line.

From the start, management dismissed suggestions the programme was too generous to be affordable on a sustainable basis.

Sasfin Securities’ analyst Alec Abraham questioned the perception that the programme was overly generous. From the company’s perspective it not only drew in more customers, but provided critical stock-management information, he said. “The number of members was well above what management expected, but the rewards was a small price to pay for all the information the programme generated,” he said. The information was particularly important to Pick n Pay as it was in the process of switching to centralised distribution.

The overhaul — implemented last week with no fanfare — comes just weeks after the company said it was making R500m in price cuts on 1,300 items. Analysts say retailers are caught between offering discounts in tough economic conditions and protecting margins.

David North, group GM of strategy and corporate affairs, said on Monday that the group’s recent initiatives demonstrated the group’s commitment to giving customers more value.” When looking at the changes to Smart Shopper, customers can be assured that every rand and more is being given back to them through lower prices and more and better discounts.”

From March 30, Smart Shoppers need to spend R200 to get back R1. The previous rate was R1 back for every R100 spent, cutting the cash-back rate to 0.5% from 1%.

Management said a key feature of the overhaul would be weekly personalised discounts tailored specifically to individual Smart Shopper based on shopping habits. “With the new Smart Shopper, Pick n Pay will be offering 30-million personal discounts every week or three discounts per customer every Thursday for 10-million customers,” the company said.

The aim is to give customers more than R500 in personal discounts over the year.

Smart Shopper points already awarded are unaffected.

While shoppers are likely to be unconvinced by the touted benefits, investors appear happier. After closing weaker on Thursday and Friday, in line with the market, the share price closed firmer on Monday.

By Ann Crotty for www.businesslive.co.za

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