Sears to launch loyalty schemes

NIGEL COPE

Sears, the retail group which includes Selfridges, is set to launch a series of credit cards and loyalty schemes across the group in an attempt to develop a more extensive database on its customers' shopping habits.

Sears already operates a Selfridges credit card which gives exclusive offers on promotions. It is now looking at a system which will enable shoppers to pay via their normal Visa or Access card but build up points on a loyalty scheme. The trial will start this summer.

Sears business development director Ian Cheshire said: "We didn't want to do a Tesco and launch a loyalty card as people can get annoyed about having yet another card in their purse or wallet. This scheme means they can use their normal card and we can still offer rewards while developing our database."

Sears is testing a card in its Adam childrens' wear chain and hopes to roll it out later this year. A "budget" card is under trial in the Shoe Express discount shoe stores and this may also be extended.

The Wallis and Richards womens' wear groups are testing database schemes that reward customers with early previews of seasonal sales and other promotions.

Sears has employed DunnHumby Associates, which worked on Tesco's ClubCard, to help analyse the data. DunnHumby will be looking at the possible launch of smart cards to help Sears develop a closer relationship with its 8 million UK customers.

Around 11 per cent of Sears sales are already made using the SearsCard, which has nearly 500,000 accounts. Sears is also considering installing multi-media kiosks in Selfridges linked to customers' charge cards. The idea is the kiosks will "recognise"customers and flash promotions or suggestions on screen.

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