I have a Safeway Club card that I have to show at checkout in order to receive the frequent shopper discounted retail on the items I am purchasing. This is the same as the frequent shopper cards used by almost all other grocery chains.
The idea initially was to offer special deals so customers would sign up for the card program so that the grocery chain could track their purchases. This allowed the grocery chain collect the data filled out on the card application as well as track the typical amount the customer spent per trip, frequency of trips, items purchased and other data. This data is critical to the grocer who uses it to market more directly to its core customers.
Of course, the card—referred to as a “loyalty card” within the industry—is designed to at least give the customer the perception they were getting a great deal not available to others. In fact, customers who do not have a card paid through the nose; those passing through town, people who simply don’t want to fool with it and those who use the store for the sheer convenience of picking up milk, bread, alcohol or tobacco. The store doesn’t regard these customers as loyal shoppers and in some cases the customers are regarded as unprofitable. The grocer won’t give this type of customer discounts other than those items and retails advertised for everyone.Most of the items advertised in weekly print and electronic ads have gotten to the point where it is necessary to have a card to get those. Retailers have added value to the card by offering customers gasoline discounts, money back after a purchase amount is reached and free products as incentives to remain loyal to the store—all tracked through the card.
I signed up online for an “AP” which I access on my Smartphone that gives me personalized discounts as well as coupon and advertised deals. I simply pick out what I want to buy and the discounts are electronically transferred to my card, which I realize when I checkout and present my card.
Nowadays, frequent Shopper cards are an accepted way to shop with most retailers using them. While I could almost certainly get better prices if the grocer simply gave me his rock bottom price without frills, I still like the benefits attached to the Frequent Shopper card.