Loyalty programmes are no longer the domain of large grocery or high street chains. Affordable systems mean you too can put loyalty at the heart of your business and boost sales.

For many retailers the thought of more equipment or processes at the till could seem off putting, but today's loyalty card schemes are fully integrated, collecting customer data at the till or on the web, quickly and easily. Loyalty card schemes offer smart retailers a chance to understand what their customers like best, engage customers on an on-going basis and boost sales – often by as much as 10%.

At Futura, we believe all retailers, whatever their size, should be able to get the most out of their customer data, to segment customers by age bands or location and to clearly understand buying preferences and trends. This powerful information allows them to create meaningful offers and to improve how promotions are targeted. Results speak for themselves and with social media and emails, promotional costs are no longer an issue.  

For department store group Menarys, a new 'Reward Me', scheme proved so popular that 40,000 customers signed up in the first five months. The scheme works simply – Menarys customers collect points each time they spend, with a personalised RewardMe card. These are converted to vouchers and sent out quarterly, together with details of forthcoming promotions to drive more sales.

3-5% growth predicted

With the current economic climate, getting like-for-like growth is challenging – so Morleys department store group is introducing a customer loyalty scheme at Elys of Wimbledon to allow it not only to compete on a level playing field, but engage with their customers in a more proactive way. For Elys, health & beauty is an important product category, so they will be offering customers a range of cash based rewards to exchange for free products and exclusive invitations to shopping and beauty events.

Neil Stockton, Morleys' group finance director, said: "Futura4Loyalty will entice our customers to stay loyal and spend more in return for some great rewards, and this will be one of the ways we continue to improve our like for like growth. We hope it will give us an extra 3-5% of sales for the Elys Store."

ROI within five months

More and more retailers are discovering how Futura4Loyalty quickly adds value. Autonomy, the women's wear clothing retailer, added thousands of customers in the first six months, and these are now responsible for 8% of all sales.

Autonomy looked at customer buying patterns and decided which promotions and incentives would best reward their loyal customer base. After capturing all customer transactional information and contact details at the till, the management team quickly set up email marketing campaigns, delivering a return on investment within five months. 

An end-of-season loyalty promotion focusing on coats generated an extra 10% of sales in this category alone – a clear demonstration to the management team of the benefits of sales analysis and precise tailoring of customer promotions. 

For Morleys Stores, software is just part of the solution. Getting the marketing activity right and generating a good customer response is also key. Stockton says: "We've already got a software platform that we're happy with, so it makes sense to use Futura's integrated solution rather than choose an unproven external party. We're piloting the loyalty scheme at Elys, our flagship store, and, if successful, we’ll be rolling out the scheme across our other stores."

As retail evolves and mobile technology and social media combine to bring more customer engagement, loyalty schemes have the potential to give managers yet more understanding of customer behaviour and enhanced customer profiles could become the strongest weapon in their armoury when it comes to choosing the best incentives to drive more sales.

Tina Royall (pictured above) is Marketing Director of Futura Retail Solutions, a technology company with over 30 years’ experience of understanding retailers’ needs. Futura supplies mid-sized lifestyle retailers with a robust and affordable POS, merchandising, stock control and CRM system, designed to improve customer experience, give management the best vision and control, whilst driving cost savings and efficiencies throughout the company. Chosen Oliver Bonas, Crew Clothing, General Trading Company, Cath Kidston, Greenwoods menswear, 99p stores and the Conran Group.