Marks & Spencer is planning a major overhaul of its Sparks loyalty programme, ditching the physical cards and relaunching it as a digital-only scheme, which will be hosted through an updated M&S App from next week.
The overhaul follows the recruitment of former Tesco Clubcard director Danielle Papagapiou to the new role of head of loyalty, with a brief to breathe new life into the scheme.
Sparks has been under fire virtually since its 2015 launch, with former Tesco Clubcard chief Grant Harrison accusing the retailer of going down a dead end, insisting that it was “just paint by numbers loyalty”.
Others have claimed the programme is confusing for shoppers and is far too reliant on discounting, offering shoppers promotions based on the number of points they have accumulated.
Under the revamp, the 7 million Sparks members can download their Sparks cards straight to their phone or have it stored on their online shopping account. Instead of points and sale access tiers, Sparks will offer instant rewards, a wider selection of charities to support and more tailored personal offers.
M&S is also guaranteeing that one customer every week will get their shopping absolutely free, while there will also be giveaways worth thousands of pounds to spend in store, and smaller personalised ‘customer thank yous’.
The retailer claims the updated scheme will also offer better and more personalised offers to members the more they shop, thanks to its significant investment digital and data science operations.
The retailer’s data-driven strategy has been a long time coming – it first started on this path back in 2011. As well as Papagapiou, over the past 18 months, M&S has appointed its first chief digital and data officer, Jeremy Pee, head of data science Mehdi Hosseini, and insight director Andrew Mann.
In addition, the retailer works with Starcount, has a strategic artificial intelligence partnership with Microsoft, operates a data science academy in partnership with Decoded, works with predictive analytics specialist First Insight and has launched a start-up incubator programme alongside Founders Factory.
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