Nectar loyalty card gives Sainsbury’s overview of omni-channel transactions

Sainsbury’s has revealed how its Nectar loyalty card gave it an unexpected overview of customer transactions across all its channels.

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Sainsbury’s has revealed how its Nectar loyalty card gave it an unexpected overview of customer transactions across all its channels.

“One of the key advantages we have over some of our competitors is that most don’t have a multichannel perspective via a loyalty card,” Jon Rudoe, director of online, digital and cross-channel at Sainsbury’s told the British Retail Consortium Omni-Channel Retailing conference in London today. Rudoe is replacing CIO Rob Fraser as digital and technology director at the supermarket later this month. 

“[Nectar] really gives us a multichannel perspective. I’m not sure that when the loyalty card was conceived they thought of that.”

Rudoe believes that Nectar has got Sainsbury’s “a long way down” the path in understanding customer behaviour across multiple channels, and the supermarket uses the data on customers garnered through the loyalty programme to encourage its shoppers to use different channels.

“What’s surprising is the level of incentivising we do inside our stores to get shoppers to shop online,” Rudoe said, explaining how the supermarket can provide targeted coupons at the till that encourage shoppers to go online.

But the absence of a loyalty card is also informative for the supermarket.

“If you transact without a Nectar card, you might have forgotten it, you may be a conspiracy theorist [concerned about giving away personal data], and thirdly, it tells us you’re not very loyal. It’s a hugely valuable tool for us,” he said.

Despite trying to get customers to shop more online, Rudoe said that stores are still valuable, partly because of the nature of food. Although the UK has the most advanced food e-tailing offering in the world, 90 percent of food purchasing is still done in stores, he said.

Technology does not work if the customer does not want it, he added.

Everything that Sainsbury’s does has to start from the customer, Rudoe said: “It can’t be technology for technology’s sake, or you end up building things for the hell of it. It has to be grounded in something that the customer wants to do.”

Sainsbury's reported a growth of over 10 percent in online groceries sales in January, and annual online groceries sales now stands at over £1 billion.

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