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Retail boom charters new customer loyalty schemes

New Delhi, Aug 27 (IANS) The retail boom in India, heralded with mega malls dotting the landscape, has not just changed the shopping experience but is also generating a whole host of incentives to woo customers and retain their loyalty. While loyalty to a branded shirt or watch may be influenced by personal choice after the first buy, in the case of a host of consumer goods and services the add-ons are known to win the game and business, say market analysts.

Sunday, August 27, 2006 | 9:51:27 AM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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New Delhi, Aug 27 (IANS) The retail boom in India, heralded with mega malls dotting the landscape, has not just changed the shopping experience but is also generating a whole host of incentives to woo customers and retain their loyalty. While loyalty to a branded shirt or watch may be influenced by personal choice after the first buy, in the case of a host of consumer goods and services the add-ons are known to win the game and business, say market analysts.

So whether it is Big Bazaar, Pantaloons, Spencer's stores or Shopper's Stop - all retail chains have on offer a loyalty card that helps you clock reward points on your purchases.

The spate of reward programmes for customer loyalty shows the market is only just waking up to discover the mantra for winning customers for a long time relationship.

Inspired by the success of Britain's Nectar and Canada's 'Air Miles' loyalty programme besides experiences in the US and Europe, an Indian American Vijay Bobba will be launching a mega multi-product and multi-services reward programme in India by month end.

'Following the retail boom in India, we will be launching a third party reward programme I-Mint by month end with Airtel (telecom), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL), apparel store Lifestyle, Indian Airlines and online travel portal makemytrip.com as coalition partners,' said Bobba, CEO of Bangalore based Loyalty Solutions and Research Limited (LSRL).

'In addition we are signing up thousands of shopkeepers across India to join the programme, thereby giving customers a chance to collect reward points whether shopping for monthly grocery in the neighbourhood store or buying medicine at a pharmacy,' Bobba, co-founder and board member of US-based Loyalty Solutions Corporation, a consultancy firm, told IANS.

Bobba felt Indian market is ripe for a rewards' programme that would cater to the needs of even a person whose monthly household budget is around Rs.2,000.

'We will be increasing the number of our coalition partners and expand in areas where the frequency of spend is very high. Our role model is UK's Nectar, which in just three years has captured 55 percent of the households,' said Bobba.

In return, Bobba assured that the customers too would benefit with a faster collection of reward points.

'In less than six months on an average we hope to reward the first of many customers,' said Bobba who is targeting enlistment of five million customers in the first year of launch in four cities including Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi.

With ICICI Ventures backing his maiden venture in India, Bobba is confident of the number of loyal customers growing to 15 million in just three to four years.

Only time will prove how successful the I-Mint programme is, given that over the past few months several other loyalty programmes backed by credit or debit card institutions have been launched.

Some of the recent ones are the State Bank of India (SBI) joining hands with the Indian Railways to offer you incentives on ticket booking using the bank credit card, Tata Group with SBI Card, Maruti Autocard in tie up with Citibank and oil marketing major Indian Oil Corporation (IndianOil).

The main drawback with loyalty programmes in India has been the slow collection of reward points unless one runs up high bills or is a frequent traveller, admitted a customer loyalty progra

Copyright : Indo-Asian News Service
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