About once a month I walk into a Staples store to pick up basic office stuff – nothing major and I certainly don’t spend a lot of money.
Every time I go to the checkout, I’m asked, “Do you have a Staples Rewards card?” And every time I answer no. The cashier then goes about their business and I pay, then leave the store. And every time I go through this I think, they’re letting millions of customers checkout, and not join the program, simply because the cashiers aren’t “selling” the customers on the rewards program. And that’s amazing given that rewards programs do a couple things:
- They make customers more loyal — customers who have rewards cards tend to shop more and spend more at the places where they have the rewards cards
- They help build the retailer’s database, thereby creating the most cost-effective way for retailers to market themselves — via email.
So when I drove the sale of the Staples Rewards card to me by probing the cashier, I learned “You get coupons and stuff.” I finally learned after more probing that I received a percentage back on purchases, which didn’t tell me much. So I took an application home and learned that I would get 10% back in rewards on all ink and toner, case and ream paper, and Copy & Print Center services. Not much of an incentive for me personally so I tossed the application.
But it bothered me still so I checked it out online and learned the following additional benefits about the Staples Rewards program:
- Special savings – Enjoy member-only special savings where you can earn extra rewards back on additional products.
- FREE delivery – Get FREE delivery on orders of $50 or more, excluding custom products.
- Ink Recycling – You can recycle ANY ink cartridge and receive $3 back in Staples Rewards per cartridge
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
If you’re going to have a rewards program, make sure your employees can “sell” it.
Here are some simple ways to get more people to sign up:
- Train every employee on the program and make it part of the check out process. Make sure employees not only ask if the customers have a rewards card, but train them how to sell the customer so they sign up.
- Create an application which details the benefits in five simple bullet points. That way, the cashier just has to take out the application and run through the bullet points with the customer.
- Promote the fact that the program is FREE. And promote it with signs at the cash wrap and on the receipt and anywhere else it makes sense.
- Promote the fact that you won’t sell or exchange the mailing lists. At one retailer, this allowed them to achieve a 50% sign-up rate for email, which is almost unheard of.
- Run contests in your stores and provide a pizza party or other incentive for the store that signs up the most members in a month. We made sure the stores were engaged by reporting numbers each week and sharing them on weekly conference calls. Nothing like a little friendly competition to stoke the fire. If you have only one store, set a goal for sign-ups for the month and offer the entire store team an incentive if they beat the goal.
If you want to sell your business, that database that you developed from the rewards program is a huge asset that adds value to your company.