Loyalty programmes are offered by retailers to encourage you to shop at their outlets. We explore how you can leverage these schemes to boost your budget.
What is a loyalty programme?
Loyalty programmes are reward schemes that are designed to attract and retain customers that can either offer discounts on goods or services, offer free rewards, or can give a ‘cashback’ option where customers can convert a portion of their purchase into a store voucher to be used at a later date.
In South Africa, most loyalty programmes are offered by medium-to-large businesses and corporations and incentivise you to make your purchases at one outlet over another. Typically, signing up for a loyalty programme is either free or has a small monthly charge, and will grant an enrolled customer a card which they can use either to swipe or enrol after each purchase, or use later on to spend their accumulated rewards.
Why do loyalty programmes exist?
Although loyalty programmes do offer great benefits to customers, a reward scheme itself is intended as a marketing tool to change a customer’s behaviour and to retain their business. Ideally, customers who have enrolled in a loyalty programme would be less likely to shop at a rival company as they would not accumulate either rewards points, vouchers, or discounts.
What are some of the major loyalty programmes?
Pick ‘n Pay Smart Shopper
Pick ‘n Pay’s Smart Shopper programme enables you to accumulate rewards points based on your total spend when either shopping at Pick ‘n Pay stores or using a TymeBank card at any store. Smart Shopper points accumulate as you continue to make purchases and can later be converted into a Rand value where a customer can later download a voucher to use against a present or future purchase.
Discovery Miles (formerly Vitality Points) are another reward scheme that enables you to accumulate points as you fulfil certain conditions across Discovery’s portfolio. For example, Discovery Medical Aid subscribers can redeem Discovery Miles for fulfilling certain fitness goals on Discovery Vitality, and Vehicle Insurance subscribers can redeem points for driving well and fulfilling goals through their linked vehicle sensor such as braking smoothly, handling corners well, or driving for a certain distance without incident.
Discovery Miles, as they are accumulated, can be used for different promotional purposes and can be redeemed through the Discovery app for food discounts or free purchases, deals, and more.
Standard Bank UCount
Standard Bank’s UCount scheme enables customers to acquire points based on their spending a chosen portfolio, such as for groceries or entertainment.
UCount rewards are redeemed for making purchases through a Standard Bank debit or credit card, and the rate at which they are accumulated is based on a customer’s total spend. As a customer spends more, they will progress through different reward tiers that will enable them, in turn, to accumulate more points. Customers can use their UCount rewards as either a cashback and transfer their balance into their savings account or credit card, or spend their points balance as a conventional cash payment through their UCount card.
Similarly to Standard Bank’s UCount rewards, FNB’s eBucks is a loyalty scheme that provides rewards points to customers when using their FNB or RMB private bank accounts. FNB customers can use their eBucks as a part or full payment when checking out in a physical store or online, and can additionally receive discounts on certain items when making their purchase with their eBucks balance.
Clicks ClubCard Points
Clicks ClubCard points are another rewards scheme where customers can accumulate points when making purchases at Clicks pharmacies, dispensaries, or from purchasing general goods. ClubCard points can be converted into a discount against future purchases, and in some instances, customers can stand to double the points that they would normally accumulate by purchasing certain goods or shopping during a specific period. Notably, ClubCard points are only valid for certain periods and can expire if not used.
How can I maximise using my loyalty programmes?
While the premise of a loyalty programme is designed to encourage you to change your purchasing behaviour and instead make your purchases at one vendor over another, you can maximise your rewards and benefits by either ‘doubling up’ or to make use of a partner network.
To ‘double up’, you may be able to use one loyalty scheme in conjunction with another – for example, if you were enrolled with Standard Bank’s UCount rewards for grocery purchases and Pick ‘n Pay’s Smart Shopper programme, you would be able to gain rewards points for both programmes by swiping both your Smart Shopper card for rewards points, and using your Standard Bank debit card to make payment.
Another means of maximising your loyalty points is to make use of partner networks – where, for example, one loyalty programme may offer rewards for using another businesses’ services. A useful example for Clicks ClubCard customers, for example, would be to fill up with petrol or diesel at Engen refuelling stations, and receive points for their purchases there.
By using loyalty programmes to maximise your rewards when shopping at your closest or most frequented outlets, you can quickly accumulate benefits that could be used as discounts on future purchases or as a ‘cashback’ offering which can boost your budget or cash flow.
When should I use my points?
Choosing when to use your rewards points can be tricky, and you may often be incentivised to do so when presented with a great promotional or ‘splurge’ item that’s more of a want than a need. However, if you are able to convert your rewards points into a cashback offering, you can use these accumulated rewards to assist your cash flow; by treating this amount as you would any other income or money in your account, you could address financial gaps in your budget or set aside funds in a savings account for an emergency.
Additionally, using rewards points and cashback benefits can also help you navigate spending for special events, where you could, for example, use your accumulated benefits to help you manage your festive spending over holiday periods.