Marks & Spencer is hoping to stimulate its fashion sales via the launch of a new loyalty programme.
As first reported by Drapers in June, the Sparks card, launching nationwide on October 22, will reward shoppers with points when they shop at M&S, write a review or engage with the brand on social media.
M&S hopes to ignite interest in its fashion ranges by offering club members priority previews of new-season ranges and the ability to pre-order “must-have” pieces such as the much-touted A-line suede skirt - depending on how many points they accumulate.
The scheme will allow shoppers to “unlock” tailor-made offers such as discounts on fashion, homeware and food, based on what they buy and preferences selected when signing up for the programme.
They will be able to access experiences such as wine tastings at their local M&S shop or visits to its vineyard in South Africa.
“We’re getting back to the roots of retail where we know who our customers are,” said marketing and international director Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne.
M&S’s performance stalled in the 13 weeks to June 27, when like-for-like sales of general merchandise fell 0.4% after a return to growth six weeks before. Its next trading update is due on November 4.
Honor Westnedge, analyst for Verdict, said the data from the Sparks card could help buying and merchandising teams to shape the new collections. It could also improve customer loyalty and generate larger basket sizes.
Sophie McCarthy, retail analyst at Conlumino, agreed, but raised some concerns: “Consumers are increasingly looking for simpler pricing and ways to shop and this seems a bit complicated. M&S is very good at having big ideas, but quite slow and inefficient in implementing them.
“The website launch didn’t go to plan and I have my doubts on whether they will be able to launch this and deliver it smoothly during peak Christmas trading.”
The scheme was tested by 100,000 shoppers in south Wales and the west of England between late August and early October.
When customers shop, regardless of how much they spend, they receive 10 Sparks points. They get 10 Sparks for every £1 they spend and every time they engage on social media or write a product review.