Locking in loyalty

Like everyone else, I have a bunch of loyalty cards dangling on my keychain—Wegmans, ShopRite, A&P, PetSmart, etc. I’m basically loyal to whichever retailer will give me a good deal on dog food, cereal, or whatever it is I need that week.

Until recently, I haven’t seen much value in loyalty programs. Retailers have not done a great job of mining the data. While they promise targeted promotions, “insider” deals and the like, they’ve been short on delivery. Essentially, I get the same offers as anyone else who fills out an application for a card.

But the game is changing. Samplesaint, Coupons, Inc. and others are rolling out programs that link loyalty cards to mobile and online promotions. Shoppers can go online for deals or use their cell phones—which is becoming the standard as Sunday newspaper circulation dwindles—and then all of the coupons they choose will be linked to their loyalty card. Just one swipe will handle all of your discounts, not just the deals you get for using the retailer’s loyalty card.

As soon as one of my local supermarkets does that, I’ll be more loyal. And I won’t have to worry about leaving the paper coupons at home.

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