Supermarket loyalty programmes ‘key’ to understanding shopper behaviour

The UK’s biggest supermarkets are using the data captured from their loyalty programmes to track online shopping habits to better personalise marketing and the shopping experience.

Tesco Clubcard

Speaking at the IGD Online Grocery Retailing conference in London today (22 October), Tesco’s online marketing director, Andrew Miles, said Clubcard is “key” to understanding how customers shop. He said very few customers now simply head to a superstore to do a weekly shop, instead, making use of both large and convenience stores, click-and-collect services and online and mobile websites to research and make purchases.

“Online is only part of the multichannel story, we have to understand the new customer journey,” he said.

Miles said mobile in particular is changing the path to purchase as customers use previously unproductive time standing in queues or waiting for the bus to browse the web. Mobile now accounts for 10 per cent of its online orders and 20 per cent of traffic, while there has been “huge growth” in tablet use as customers go online to check prices and promotions before going in store to purchase.

This means grocery shopping is now “iterative”, with customers reacting to their needs as they change throughout the week. Miles used the example of real-life couple “Dave and Sue”, which the supermarket has tracked for five years.

He said that in 2009, the couple did shop with Tesco at its Extra stores, but weren’t particularly loyal. Now however, they shop online, adding and removing products from their basket throughout the week as they run out of certain goods or spot promotions, as well as topping up at convenience stores.

“Customers who both shop online and in store are our most valuable and loyal customers,” he added.

Supermarkets are also using data to offer more personalised promotions. Speaking at the same event, Sainsbury’s head of trading, content and merchandising said it has used the “power of Nectar” to do away with the need for blanket untargeted promotions, instead creating tailored rewards.

It is also introducing new features to exploit the growing use of mobile. It now has mobile scan and go services in three of its stores, enabling customers to download an app and then walk around the store scanning products. This means customers can keep an eye on how much they are spending and then simply hand their phone to the cashier to pay at the till without having to unpack all their goods.

Asda does not have its own loyalty programme, but its home shopping director Kieran Shanahan said it collects data on every online order and in-store purchase to inform its marketing strategy. It is trialling new formats, including sending SMS to customers that have ordered online more than 24 hours in advance to encourage top-ups and using push notifications in its mobile app to highlight special offers and deals to consumers.

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