Marks & Spencer is launching its first full-blown loyalty scheme across its entire operation, including food, clothing and home, as it strives to build closer relationships with customers.
The idea was first tested in June this year among a small number of shoppers and now the scheme, dubbed “Sparks”, will be rolled out on October 22.
The retailer has dabbled with a number of schemes already, offering reward points scheme for customers who have signed up to M&S Bank credit or debit cards. It also runs an initiative, M&S Barista, in coffee shops and restaurants.
Based on the MyWaitrose and MyJohnLewis approach – rather than the Clubcard scheme – Sparks members will get tailor-made offers across food, fashion, home and beauty, as well as priority access to new season previews and “sale” products, and invitations to special events.
Customers collect 10 points for every £1 spent as well as extra points if they leave an online product review or donate old clothes to charity through the retailer’s Shwop programme.
“The fresh look that we have taken is a move from loyalty into a members club,” said M&S executive director of marketing Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne. “We believe the time is right for M&S to be introducing Sparks today … But most importantly we could not have done it before.
“Thanks to our infrastructure investment and the breadth and depth of our product offer, we can deliver a club that sees us collaborate with our members to build a better M&S together.”
Despite spending over £100m on its new website, the company has only just started to see its digital strategy pay dividends. In July this year it revealed that sales on M&S.com had risen by 38.7% in the first quarter of 2015; a stark difference to last summer when it suffered an 8% decline in online sales due to problems with the site.
This success has enabled M&S to finally embrace customer insight, a strategy is has been building behind the scenes since 2011, with the Sparks card the next piece of the jigsaw.
To kick-start the launch, the retailer is running a”14 Days of Sparks in store and online” promotion. It will also be Sparks marketing into wider activity and by Christmas it expects for the programme will be promoted across stores and online.
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