Boots’ new app is a step in the right direction, but loyalty must go digital first

Boots has been promising a digital update to its Advantage Card loyalty scheme for some time now so it’s great to see it finally deliver.

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Its new app isn’t a fully-fledged digital Advantage Card, people can’t collect or redeem points using their mobile. What it does do is get rid of those pesky paper coupons that Boots admits its customers frequently forget to take into store with them.

So now no more filling up your Boots shopping basket before realising you’ve left that deal that could have got you 25 per cent off at home. Instead, it’ll be a simple case of opening up your mobile phone, taking a look at the personalised deals and offers available to you and picking one to redeem at checkout using the card.

It’s a smart move from Boots. One that gets rid of one of the main gripes people have with loyalty programmes.

Plus it gets around having to update tills or add in new point-of-sale that can read mobiles, a costly exercise when you run as many stores as Boots does.

Hopefully it’s the first of a number of moves by the retailer to bridge the gap between mobile, online and in-store when it comes to loyalty and connecting up customers across its retail estate, whether they’ve come in to visit the pharmacy, get their eyes checked or buy some holiday toiletries.

Speaking at Marketing Week Live yesterday (25 June), Unilever’s UK media director Sarah Mansfield said finding a way to marry the three platforms helps to engender customer loyalty, getting rid of barriers to customer engagement and sales.

Unilever is clearly one of the brands Boots will want to be working with to offer the right communications and deals to customers. One of the purposes of the new app is to give people more information about the “brands they love” while in store, from product details to customer reviews.

The move shows retailers are realising that engendering loyalty is no longer just about points. It’s about creating a great experience for customers and offering them interesting and engaging content and the ability to get deals and make purchases whatever device they are using.

Think of Waitrose’s scheme, which eschews points for free tea, coffee and newspapers. Or the upcoming digital Clubcard, which while still offering points will also reward customers for healthy eating if that’s how they choose to tailor their programme.

With everyone in store now carrying a mobile phone using it to offer content, information and as a way of engaging with offers is ever more important. Boots has made a step in the right direction. Now it must ensure it continues on that journey to offer a best-in-class loyalty programme however customers want to engage with the brand.

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