IRISH CHAIN BROADENS CARD PROGRAM, REWARDS

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (FNS) -- Superquinn, a 16-store chain based in Dublin, Ireland, has broadened the reach of its frequent shopper card by partnering with other retailers and businesses.SuperClub card holders can accumulate program points not only at SuperQuinn, but through purchases at 240 outlets operated by 18 other retailers, including Texaco, as well as banks and insurance companies. Customers

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (FNS) -- Superquinn, a 16-store chain based in Dublin, Ireland, has broadened the reach of its frequent shopper card by partnering with other retailers and businesses.

SuperClub card holders can accumulate program points not only at SuperQuinn, but through purchases at 240 outlets operated by 18 other retailers, including Texaco, as well as banks and insurance companies. Customers exchange the points for gifts featured in a twice-yearly catalog.

The company is intent on building and maintaining customer loyalty and is taking innovative service approaches and making technology investments to do so, said Cormac Tobin, a company store manager.

Tobin spoke at a conference here sponsored by CIES: The Food Business Forum and outlined Superquinn's customer loyalty strategies.

Willem Van der Ster, senior vice president of strategic planning and market research at Albert Heijn BV of Zaandam, Netherlands, also spoke at the presentation. He said food retailers are facing a marketing revolution that will require major changes in the way they operate and address the customer.

"Retailers must redefine their market and work toward a broader spectrum of competition." In marketing terms, this means consumers are turning into "prosumers," professional consumers who know exactly what they want, Van der Ster said.

Superquinn's Tobin said the chain responds to those demands in large part through its frequent shopper program. Superquinn awards points in a number of ways, including how much a customer spends, how often they shop over an eight-week period, or extra points for shopping on quieter days of the week.

Each of these promotions is developed at the individual store level, Tobin said.

"We operate category management where 20% of products are decided locally and 80% centrally," Tobin said. "This enables us to increase profits by tailoring our actions to the local level."

Superquinn's philosophy is driven by customer service, Tobin said. Its aim is to encourage customers to speak up if they see something they don't like. Customers who point out a mistake, such as a signage error or lack of shopping carts, often are awarded with extra SuperClub points, he said.

Extra points also are offered if there are more than three people waiting in line and a new checkout doesn't open.

Superquinn takes special measures to ensure customer satisfaction, and will, for example, send a staff member to a local store to buy a product it doesn't stock, ensuring the customer has it before he or she leaves the store, Tobin said.

The retailer now is testing a check-clearing system for card members which would speed the time it takes to approve their check and also is trying self-scanning for SuperClub members.