Safeway stores: "No loyalty card, no discounts."
Safeway stores are in the news again... this time for preserving loyalty card data at the potential cost of annoying customers. From RetailWire:
It's not uncommon for cashiers at supermarkets and other retailers to swipe a generic loyalty card for customers who forget their cards or don't have one. That enables the shopper to gain the savings applicable under the store's rewards program.
Apparently, the reason the clerk-swiping practice is allowed by some is because stores avoid disappointing or outright annoying shoppers at the final step of the shopping experience. For new or less-frequent shoppers, being forced to take the time to sign up for a card to get a deal is also perhaps not the best welcome.
But other retailers, including Safeway, have stringent policies against the practice.
CEO Steve Burd said that since launching its rewards program 15 years ago, Safeway, because of the value of customer data, has been "highly disciplined" about making sure only card holders gain the savings. He believes Safeway's diligence in preventing clerk swiping has become a competitive advantage since other stores have been more lax.
The comments under the article are very telling too. Most of the industry people think this is wonderful and maintains the integrity of the loyalty card data. Others paint a different picture:
"There is a reason Safeway keeps losing market share and has fallen from grace in Philly, Texas, and Chicago. They seem to enjoy p*ssing off customers."
"Wow. Could you get any more anti-customer experience if you tried? ... The decision also puts their frontline staff in a very difficult position. I sure hope the executives who made this decision spends some time on the register telling people no. But we know that probably isn't going to happen...."
"It is a free program; why are you going to punish the customer that doesn't have a 'card' with them or doesn't want to sign up? Better yet, charge them more! That isn't driving loyalty, it's "anti-loyalty." If the customer asks, swipe the generic card!"
"If there is a candidate list for that TV show where bosses are working at the employee level, Steve Burd's name should be at the top. I forget my loyalty card in the car -- I do not have a wallet or a keychain. I know the cashier for over 3 years and the cashier knows me. Now Steve Burd is putting my personal relationship with the cashier at risk by not understanding that I left my loyalty card in the car? This is bad micro-management at best! So what's going to happen is the customer behind me is going to say "here, use my loyalty card," something Safeway didn't consider in this social engineering design."
"Suffice to write: any barrier to pleasing a customer is foolish."