Rewards programs are a great way to give back to customers and to encourage repeat business. Knowing your customers and adjusting to what suits them best is essential to developing a long-term plan. If they aren’t using the rewards program, it isn’t benefiting them or the store. When UC Davis Stores evaluated their Aggie Kickbacks program in comparison to UC Merced and UCLA, they saw room for improvement.
“UC Merced does instant savings. Seeing how excited people got when they were told they would get their candy bar basically for free, we decided we needed to implement that,” Carol Swafford, associate director of sale at UC Davis Stores said. “In our old system people had to go through a process of registering online and then going back online to request a voucher. It was additional steps that people didn’t take the time to do. Instant savings is so easy and rewarding.”
With the MBS System, they utilized the integrated loyalty module to set up instant saving for their students. Cashiers can quickly set up rewards accounts for students as they checkout. The students can immediately start earning points without having to go through extra steps and the next time the students come in to make a purchase those points can be applied.
“We can say, ‘Oh, you have $2 in rewards. Would you like to use that today?’ That instant gratification has made all the difference,” Swafford said. “Prior to us switching over to the instant rewards, I think we had a million dollars in unclaimed points because people don’t take the time to do the vouchers. Now that you can do the instant at the register, they definitely take advantage of it.”
To date, UC Davis stores have given away $111,000 worth of rewards discounts. Choosing not to restart their program when the new system was in place, they applied previously unused credits to the students’ accounts.
“We knew we would take a big hit. One of the things I like about UCLA’s program is that at the end of the fiscal year you use it or lose it,” Swafford said. “In May, we will send out an email reminding them that they only have until June 30th to use their points. July 1st it will start over. It will be a lot more controlled in the future.”
UC Davis considers their rewards program a success. The students love it and the response has been great. Swafford advises college stores thinking about implementing their own rewards program to put it in their budget because it will affect the store’s margins. She also states that in return it will keep customers coming back because they truly will appreciate the service they are being provided.
“MBS updated the system to where you could actually do the registration at the register and add the customers. I am not sure how many people realize it is instantaneous now.” Swafford said. “Customers no longer have to go online to register themselves. Now MBS has made it simple and people are really happy with it. That has made a world of difference for us.”