Study of Loyalty Programs

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The literature survey has provided a base for the study and given an overview of the areas where the research could be done. It has also provided me with the relevant facts.

Objective of the study:
Study of loyalty programs of Shoppers Stop and Pantaloons.
Are these programs really effective in enhancing the customer experience. •How much profitable does the loyalty programs prove to be, for a customer centric apparel retailer. Most customers hold several loyalty cards of competing retailers. Past studies looking into the impact of card ownership on store loyalty showed mixed results. Loyalty cards are effective only when customers value the rewards associated with them. This research is being done to investigate to what extent the satisfaction with loyalty card rewards affects the customer experience with the retailer.

Literature Review
A customer is the one who consumes products (goods or services) and has the ability to choose between different products and suppliers. A customer is not necessarily someone who is currently purchasing the products from a marketer, they may purchase something tomorrow. They are indispensable for a business. When a customer begins a relationship with a company he or she already has a specific set of expectations. These expectations are based on their perceptions. They are formed through personal past experience, and the experience of others with whom the customer interacts. Delivering below expectations leaves a customer unsatisfied, and if the services received meets their expectations they are satisfied. If it exceeds the expectations, customer is delighted.

(Picture Source: Article - Customer Expectations vs. Customer Needs by Ray Miller)

Customer loyalty is the degree to which customers will patronize to the company and that company alone because an emotional bond is developed or created with them. It has gone beyond their expectations. Customers have come to expect fast, friendly service. In a competitive marketplace where businesses compete for customers, customer satisfaction is seen as a key differentiator and increasingly has become a key element of business strategy. Customer-centricity is the new approach adopted by the companies in order to focus on the profile of new consumers. The products are being designed according to the customer needs. Retailers chose customer satisfaction and retention as the top overall corporate priority, as reported by Retail Horizons: Benchmarks for 2008, Forecasts for 2009, the seventh annual “State of the retail industry” study conducted for the National Retail Federation Foundation. (Source: Customer-Centricity, Images Retail). Customer experience is the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods or services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier. Customer-centric companies offer customer experiences that value the customers. In today's competitive world where a lot of retailers exist with similar products to offer, delivering pleasant customer experience is the key to be successful. It is often stated that delivering the ultimate customer experience will win and retain more customers. Only customer satisfaction doesn’t lead to loyalty among the customers a great customer experience which goes beyond selling products and services builds up loyalty and sense of belongingness among the consumers for the company. Loyalty programs offered by the retailers are classified as Private Label-Self Managed, Private Label-Outsourced Management and Coalition. It has been found that Loyalty cards are the most common form of loyalty programs found today in the retailing sector. In marketing generally and in retailing more specifically, a loyalty card, rewards card, points card, advantage card, or club card is a plastic or paper card, visually it is similar to a credit card or debit card, that...
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