Sparks relaunch woos one million newbies to M&S app

sparksMarks & Spencer’s revamped Sparks app has attracted a million new customers since relaunching just over two months ago, in one of the first signs that the retailer’s “digital-first” strategy is finally having a positive impact.

The overhaul followed the recruitment of former Tesco Clubcard director Danielle Papagapiou to the role of head of loyalty, with a brief to breathe new life into the scheme, which has faced claims that it is too confusing for shoppers and too reliant on discounting. Even M&S boss Steve Rowe has admitted it “needs substantial improvement”.

Under the revamp, the card is stored on customers’ mobiles or on their online shopping account. Instead of points and sale access tiers, Sparks now offers instant rewards, a wider selection of charities to support and more tailored personal offers.

M&S has also guaranteed 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’.

At the time, the retailer claimed the updated scheme would also offer better and more personalised offers to members the more they shop, thanks to its significant investment digital and data science operations.

In its first update since July, M&S claims that the first two days of relaunch saw more than 240,000 new sign-ups, reaching nearly a million now. This takes its total number of Sparks members to over 8 million, 2.4 million of whom have received rewards, gifts and treats since relaunch, the retailer said.

A further 10,000 customers have seen their entire shopping basket paid for by M&S as part of the scheme.

M&S is now running a limited time “rewards boost” until September 27, seeing one customer every day in every store in the UK being rewarded with a free basket of shopping.

This revamp forms part of M&S’ wider “Never the Same Again Programme”, marking a heavy investment in data and tech.

Commenting on Papagapiou’s appointment in September last year, M&S said: “These changes will enable our digital and data function to become a centre of excellence, help our business grow and unlock the power of data, so we make better customer decisions and deliver a seamless experience for our customers. This is at the heart of our strategy to become a ‘digital first’ retailer and is critical if we are going to win in the retail market today – and in the future.”

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