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Updated: Feb 28

As a member of a number of retailers' customer loyalty programs I've realized there are benefits and drawbacks to each of these programs.

In some cases, buying an item is driven by a retailer's loyalty program. In other words, I'll buy the item at one store over another because the loyalty program gives me an additional benefit(s). Yet in other cases, I'll buy an item at the store even if the purchase does not qualify for any benefit associated with a loyalty program. So loyalty programs are important to me; but they are not the leading reason to buying an item at a particular store.

I participate in Bloomingdale's Loyalist, Saks SaksFirst Rewards and Nordstrom's Nordy Club. In the order of perceived benefits ranking them from best to least best: #1 Bloomingdale's #2 Saks and #3 Nordstrom.

These loyalty programs are complex and I'd love to have the time and patience to figure out how to best use these loyalty programs. Understanding how to achieve the full benefits of the programs might not be as difficult as strategizing how to win with an airlines /credit cards mileage rewards programs. But I believe there could be methods to achieve more benefits than I currently do.

Each of these loyalty programs has tiers / levels, with the tiers based on how much is spent annually. The higher the tier, the more and better the benefits. Saks' SaksFirst Rewards has four tiers (Please refer to the box below). The top tier, Diamond is reached once $25,000 is spent. And with that tier you get free valet parking. I'm unsure that free valet parking is something that would encourage many to spend $25,000 at Saks. On the other hand, another Diamond benefit is "VIP Experiences." That sounds interesting and I'd like to know what these "VIP Experience" could be. That is all the fine prints explains about them. Saks should list a few examples. That might trigger members to strive to reach the Diamond Tier.

Nordstrom's Nordy Club is the simplest program for me to understand. My experience is Nordstrom has the fewest promotion days, leading me to paying less attention to reading the fine print in emails and details on the website describing what extras are included or excluded in the Nordy Club rewards program. In 2022 I reached the Nordy Club Ambassador Level. My favorite benefit associated with this level is the 4 Personal Double Point Days. I like it a bit more than the benefit with my Bloomingdale's Loyalist - Top of the List Level 3 Pick Your Triple Point Days.

With the Nordy Club's double point days it can be done at the spur of the moment, deciding to use it while in the store. But with the Bloomingdale's Loyalist's Triple Point Days each of the days need to be scheduled in advance in the App. I don't like to have to schedule days when I'm going shopping. Another difference is Nordstrom Sales Associates have reminded me about these days, asking at the checkout if I want to use the double points days while only once has a Bloomingdale's Sales Associate reminded me about using these days.

The oddest element for me with the Bloomingdale's Loyalist's program is that at the beginning of the year it turns into anything but a loyalty program. As highlighted in green in the box below, on January 1st of every year, 85% of the points in the Loyalist account will be taken away.

I feel Bloomingdale's does not want me to have a happy new year! Above I noted I would love to fIgure out how to best use these loyalty programs. Toward the end of 2022 I recalled most of the points would be removed at the beginning of the year. Therefore I checked my points to see how close I was to earning a $25 reward. I decided if I were far away from the reward I would stop shopping at Bloomingdale's and buy the items elsewhere. Or, if I were close to earning the $25 reward I'd buy if needed and then receive the reward.

Taking away points seems like a punishment and a deal breaker to shopping at Bloomingdale's. However, based on my experience, it is easier to earn rewards when compared with the loyalty programs offered by Saks and Nordstrom and therefore still rank it #1. Other shoppers having different shopping habits might disagree with me.

On the flip side of taking away points at the beginning of the year, the SaksFirst program rewards members in the first quarter of the new year.

I recently received cheerful correspondence from Saks. (Please refer the box below). Even the envelope is upbeat! "Thank you for your loyalty" When the card is opened a shiny silver gift card is attached, with the card stating "Thank You for being a Loyal Saks Customer" That makes me feel good! The only surprise here is that the look and feel of this card and envelope do not match with other Saks branding materials. The color scheme and fonts do not remind me of Saks Fifth Avenue.

What customer loyalty programs do you belong to? Which ones do you favor and why? Do you have a strategy for trying to get the most benefits out of each?

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  • Writer's picturePamela Tucker

In my last two posts I explained I've been using gift cards received either as gifts or through stores' promotions to buy earrings, one time at Bloomingdale's and the other time at Nordstrom. Each of these purchases were thought out ahead of going to the store. I set and followed two guidelines, including buying a brand I did not own and adding some money, at most $100 to the gift cards to buy something I'd like.

During this third gift card shopping trip, I had a collection of Saks Fifth Avenue gift cards. The sum of these gift cards was enough to consider buying jewelry from a long time favorite jewelry brand, David Yurman. Yes ,it looks like I I'm on an earrings binge as I decided to again target earrings.

This shopping trip was well planned. I have a passion for pearls. Perhaps due to the fact I was named after my great grandmother who was named Pearl! Pearls are elegant and I've read they are symbols of wisdom and love, among other interesting attributes, Reading that royalty has worn pearls for hundreds of years is intriguing. Prior to the shopping trip to the Saks Fifth Avenue Store in New York City, I looked at the store's website. Much has been written about the Saks Fifth Avenue stores and the website, operations being split in 2021. Yet, as a shopper I can't separate the two and think it is just one operation.

After looking at the David Yurman selection on I narrowed my choices down two pairs of earrings. Though websites, such as indicate if the item is available in the store, it is possible it won't be in stock and on the other hand, it could turn out to be a nice surprise the store has merchandise that is not on the website, and that becomes the purchase.

The shopping trip did not take long. I was helped by a welcoming and enthusiastic sales associate. I recall she helped me a few years ago. She did not remember me; nor did I expect her to recall helping me. I left the store, pleased with a perfect pair of pearl earrings. David Yurman refers to them as pearl and pave Solari stud earrings with diamonds. Photo above and check them out here:

This was another successful gift card shopping trip. As pointed out in my last post, based on a number of shopping visits, Nordstrom has inadequate inventory levels of merchandise in the 57th Street store. Based on about a dozen trips I've found the same situation with the Saks Fifth Avenue store on Fifth Avenue. There are a range of clothes, accessories and shoes that are best purchased in person. If buying a repeat item, or very familiar with a brand, buying online is a great convenience.

Shopping is supposed to be a simple experience and shoppers should be given the opportunity to easily discover new brands, new fashions and buy new things. Yet, with not enough in the stores I believe retailers are losing out on immediate sales and revenues down the road.

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  • Writer's picturePamela Tucker

For me, an accessory refresh is always in fashion. In a previous post I mentioned when I have promotional gift cards and the rules require the gift cards be used in a short time frame, I'll do two things: (1) Add some money to the amount of the gift cards. (2) Look at buying an item from a brand that I do not currently own. This combination leads to buying something special and I like, rather than just spending only $50 on something I don't like.

Based on a Nordstrom purchase I made in December 2022, I earned a $50 promotional gift card. It was emailed to me on January 1st and it had to be used by January 31st. One month is a short window to think about what to do with the gift card! For the departments and items I shop at Nordstrom, $50 is a negligible amount to put toward a Nordstrom purchase. Yet, it is $50 and certainly helps with any Nordstrom purchase.

In fashion related emails I receive and browsing retailers' websites, for a few years I came across the designs of the Canadian jewelry designer JENNY BIRD. She founded her company in 2008. The jewelry is contemporary and in some cases a nice twist on a classic style. After viewing the JENNY BIRD jewelry on its website, along with retailers that sell this brand, the one thing that stood out is that many of items are very shiny. That left me with an upbeat and positive feeling and I knew this brand warranted a further look.

After reading how the Company sources I was more interested in the brand. The website states: "At JENNY BIRD, it is of the utmost importance to us that our products are sourced and manufactured responsibly through ethical practices and regular audits of their factory." Also attractive is the Company donates one-percent of all sales to organizations that uplift women from our fund, the Possibilities Project."

With about five days left before the gift card expired, I scanned the Nordstrom website looking to see if it sold JENNY BIRD. I opted for earrings as that category is one I'm working on freshening up. I saw Nordstrom sold the brand and then went to the 57th Street store in New York City to look and try on. There was a just small selection of JENNY BIRD earrings and that was disappointing.

(As a side note, I find inadequate inventory levels at the 57th Street store. For example, during about a half dozen shopping trips there when I was looking to buy a suit, in certain brands such as Veronica Beard and A.L. C. I saw, for instance pants in only sizes 0 - 4 and jackets in sizes only 6 and 10. This is more of a mismatch than a suit! I like trying on the entire suit not just one piece so I did not buy anything in my size because the other suit piece was not there to try on. The store should make shopping less frustrating and place more goods on the floor.)

After reviewing the few pairs of earrings that were on display I selected a fabulous pair to try on. The sales associate helped me with the alcohol pads. I bought the double hoop earrings shown in the post. They are called "Florence" and the JENNY BIRD website describes them well: "Dramatic and voluminous, this custom design creates the illusion of two earrings stacked together. Finished in high-polish gold." (They also come in silver tone which I learned after, but I do not recall seeing them in the store, nor did I ask about that.) Price:$130. Mission accomplished. I love the ball backing design and they are comfortable.

So far so good with these beautiful earrings and therefore went to the JENNY BIRD website to see the"NEW IN" Tab. Another "Florence" piece caught my eye. This "Florence" is a gorgeous statement-necklace with large links and also finished in high-polish gold. Wearing the two "Florences" together I think would be too overwhelming. The "Florence" necklace and some other nifty JENNY BIRD pieces are on my radar for my ongoing accessory refresh.

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