WH Smith launches loyalty card scheme

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The Independent Online
WH Smith is testing two loyalty card schemes in its core high-street chain in an attempt to boost flagging sales and inject more life into the ailing business. The two versions on trial are the WH Smith Clubcard and the Clubcard for Children, thought to be the first card aimed at the under 12s.

Both schemes enable shoppers to earn 10 points for every pounds 1 spent which can then be redeemed against purchases in WH Smith stores. The discount is equivalent to 2 per cent, roughly double the rate offered by most supermarket loyalty schemes.

The system is being piloted in 19 stores, and the company is actively targeting the family shopper. ClubCard for Children is available to youngsters up to 11 years, whose parents also sign up to the scheme.

WH Smith stores are visited by 7.5 million customers a week but have been hit by a combination of low margins, cluttered stores and fierce competition from the supermarket groups. The 19 stores participating in the trial also have Discovery Zones, which give better offers to children.

WH Smith is the latest in a long line of retailers to launch loyalty cards, or tests, following in the trail of all the big supermarkets and the chemist, Boots. But the company faces problems differentiating its card from those of rivals. It has adopted the same name for the cards as Tesco's scheme, which has 8.5 million members.

City analysts will also fear that the card will hit WH Smith's already pressured margins.

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