Safeway Borrows a Page from the Travel Industry

July 7, 2011 | by Sharon Goldman

We’ve known for a while that Safeway, North America’s second largest grocery chain, has been on the right track when it comes to the Enterprise Loyalty journey towards data-driven customer-centricity. Its U.S.-based stores, for instance, are known for using knowledge of club card members, including the products they buy and their overall value, to customize offers and personalize the shopping experience.

Now, it looks like its sister stores in Canada are taking those efforts to the next level. In a recent article from the Winnipeg Free Press, it was announced that Canada Safeway quietly launched its SafewayClub Elite Customer program last month, which appears remarkably like the tiered programs airlines have offered for decades — but that grocers have never offered.

According to the story, shoppers who spent more than $125 each week over a six-month period qualify for the program, which offers perks such as a 5 cents-per-litre discount off gasoline; 10 percent off roses and deli sandwiches; cash back up to $300.

“The program recognizes our very best customers similar to those that may use a hotel, airline or car rental company with great frequency,” said John Graham, Canada Safeway’s director of public affairs. He noted that Safeway believes this is the first program of its kind in a North American grocery chain.

Here at COLLOQUY, we believe this announcement is a big step forward for the grocery industry. If it is successful, other chains may take this tier-based model and run with it. It’s finally a move towards using the data and segmentation to reallocate limited rewards and communications resources within their huge membership base based on calculations such as lifetime value. It’s old news in most industries outside of grocery — including airlines, hotels and other retailers, but for grocers who have had access to important data through club cards and never fully leveraged it in the design of their programs, it’s a big move towards a truly data-driven and customer-centric loyalty effort.

Topics: Customer Experience , Customer Service , Loyalty Programs , Retail - General , Supermarkets & Grocery Stores

Sharon Goldman / In her role as Senior Editor, Sharon writes and edits stories for COLLOQUY magazine. She helps develop future communications and research initiatives, and also works on white papers and thought leadership content for other lines of business within LoyaltyOne.
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