Grey revolt: Waitrose forced to rethink digital strategy

waitroseWaitrose has been forced to rethink its new-look loyalty scheme, which only went live at the end of February, following what is claimed to have been “thousands” of complaints from members over the digital-first strategy.

The John Lewis Partnership supermarket first unveiled the shake-up last month, insisting it had doubled its investment in the programme, first launched as an online club in 2009.

The move, which Waitrose insisted was its “our biggest initiative to add value” for customers in a decade, with the selection of tailored offers expanding as customers shop more, and vouchers redeemed weekly.

At the heart of the upgrade was the plan to offer shoppers greater savings and more personalised offers through weekly emails to remind them to select their offers for the week.

It is is a similar strategy which is employed by Lidl and the Co-op.

However, it seems Waitrose miscalculated the strength of feeling from its slightly more elderly customers, who, according to The Grocer magazine, have flocked to its customer service helplines ever since the relaunch, after being told in store that their physical card was not enough to redeem MyWaitrose rewards.

The complainants have also claimed the programme was “confusing” and “discriminating” towards those without access to a smartphone app.

A Waitrose spokesman told The Grocer: “We know this is a big change for our customers. Digital first does not mean digital only and, now that we have a better idea of which customers are engaging using smartphones, we’ll be identifying customers’ preferred ways to receive their offers, including print at home, vouchers in the post and coupons printed at till.”

Meanwhile, John Lewis Partnership has made a first donation of £100,000 to the British Red Cross directly in support of their Ukraine Crisis Appeal, to help provide food, water, medicine, warm clothing and shelter to those whose lives have been affected by the Russian invasion.

Chairman Sharon White said: “I am deeply distressed by the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine – innocent people losing their lives, their loved ones, their homes, and families being separated.

“The Partnership will also match donations from customers and our Partners (employees) up to £150,000. My thoughts are with the people of Ukraine and everyone affected by this terrible war. We all share a common humanity and all conflicts – near and far – strike at the heart of our values.”

The Partnership has also confirmed it is removing from sale products in Waitrose and John Lewis that are made in Russia, including one Russian Vodka in Waitrose and one line of pizza oven pellets in John Lewis.

In a statement it added: “We’re working with our suppliers to review products that have components of Russian origin and will be seeking to mitigate further exposure to the region.”

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