In a bid to catch up with its peers, Checkers launched its long-awaited loyalty programme called the Checkers Xtra Savings Programme. File Photo: IOL

JOHANNESBURG – Checkers, owned by Shoprite, Africa’s biggest food retailer, has entered the customer loyalty race in a pressured retail environment with this week’s launch of its rewards programme.

Checkers, in a bid to catch up with its peers, said on Tuesday that it had launched its long-awaited loyalty programme called the Checkers Xtra Savings Programme,  aimed at giving consumers extra cash savings on more than 1 000 products every month.

It said that following the overhaul of its IT system, the time was ripe to launch its maiden loyalty programme. The large scale overhaul of its IT system had seen it  “replatform” more than 2 000 stores in 15 countries over the past two years, the company said.

“It aimed to ensure we remain globally competitive and become a more customer-centric business,” a company spokesperson said.

Checkers, however, has stiff competition as the loyalty rewards programme is dominated by Clicks ClubCard, which was named the most used loyalty brand in the retail sector for the 2018/19 financial year in research released earlier this month. 

It also has competition with rival Pick n Pay’s Smart Shopper loyalty card. Pick n Pay said in its results for the year to March that its card has up to 7.2 million active members and offered R6.6 billion in personalised discounts last year, with redemptions up almost 30 percent.

Peter Takaendesa, a portfolio manager at Cape Town-based Mergence Investment Managers, said yesterday that Checkers was clearly behind its peers when it came to loyalty cards.

“Our understanding is that the recent significant technology investments have made it possible for it to re-launch this initiative sustainably,” said Takaendesa, adding that trading conditions had remained difficult for retailers and consumers.

Takaendesa said loyalty programmes normally allowed businesses to get more access to customer information and recent technology developments allowed them to use that information to offer customers deals. 

“If implemented well, together with offering good value to the customer, loyalty programmes can go a long way in gaining or defending a customer base. 

"The Shoprite Group has invested a lot of money into various long-term growth improvement projects and it is now very important that they execute well to generate returns from those investments,” said Takaendesa.

Checkers promised yesterday that there would be no points, no tiers and no levels in its new loyalty card. 

“Just instant cash savings on your groceries and drinks,” it said.