Jewel Pulling A JCPenney?: Chain Dropping Its Loyalty Card In Favor Of Overall Lower Prices

The thing about store loyalty cards? Plenty of people are very loyal to being loyal and love having a card to keep track of that faithfulness. Which is why Jewel-Osco’s decision to get rid of its loyalty card program is a move bordering on crazy… Or is it crazy like a proverbial fox who is also very good at managing retail customers?

Let’s just hope it’s not crazy like former JCPenney CEO Ron “No More Sales EVER!” Johnson. While pulling a loyalty card program isn’t just like ditching sales, both moves are based on the belief that customers would rather just have lower prices all the time.

Jewel-Osco confirmed it’s putting the kibosh on its Preferred Customer Card program, reports the Chicago Tribune, which allowed customers with the card to score savings on “preferred items.”

Several stores have begun collecting customers’ cards by assuring them they can participate in a raffle instead.

Now, any customers can get the sale price, sans card. In an email to customers, Jewel wrote:

“We want your shopping trips to be simple, and we think Card Free Savings helps achieve that. … Great prices for everyone means great shopping experiences, and we’re 100 percent focused on providing that at Jewel-Osco.”

A company spokeswoman says the shift reflects “our wanting every customer who walks through the door to get the same deal as if they had a card on their keychain chain or not. We want things to be simple.”

Anyone who’s ever missed out on a deal because they forgot their loyalty card may well hail this change in the system. But there are other reasons people value loyalty card programs: Stores can use the cards to track customer purchases and as such, market to those people based on items they might want coupons for.

Or in the case of a food recall, the store can track which customers bought the affected product, like Costco recently did during a Hepatitis C outbreak linked to frozen berries.

And then there’s the thrilling moment when the cashier says you have enough points to get a $5 discount on your purchase. Nothing like it, right?

The spokesman says the company is still all about sales data, but is taking a different tack.

“Since we’re a new company and we’re very local, we still analyze our data, but we do it on a more local level,” she said. “Instead of assigning a number for a customer and tracking individual purchases, we look at our data in a different way. We’re getting to know customers in their neighborhoods. We’re running each store like it’s the only one.”

Jewel to drop loyalty card [Chicago Tribune]