I was at Coles on the weekend and made the mistake of asking how much I had to spend before I could get something free through FlyBys. “you have to go to the website” was the answer, followed by “they don’t tell us that stuff”. Okay, I can understand it might be a bit much detail. Even though I knew the answer I thought I’d compare what a Coles checkout person knows about flybys compared to the loyalty promotion I run in my retail newsagency. (It’s of interest to me because we have just introduced new loyalty facilities in the software we supply newsagents with.) This checkout person was no help. They didn’t have anything at the counter to answer my questions. Even though I spent close to $200.00 I could get no idea of how close I was to getting some value from the spend, some recognition for loyalty.

My point is that retailers have an obligation to be transparent about their loyalty schemes. If they promote rewards they need to disclose the value of rewards earned with each transaction. They also need to ensure that their front line associates can do more to answer a customer query than point one to a website.

I’d prefer to shop elsewhere but Coles is the closest and my sense is that they’ll win more market share by buying competitors out – look at liquor and fuel over the last two years. Consumers have less choice and with that comes worse prices and poor service.

Based on years of poor big business experience and mucking around in my own small retail business, at my software company we’ve created solid transparent facilities in our loyalty software which help independents retailers show the bug players how to deliver honest and transparent customer service.

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