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  • Writer's picturePamela Tucker


Updated: Feb 28, 2023

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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