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Canada: Shoppers, Loblaw to Merge Programs

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By: RickFerguson |

Posted on November 13, 2017

Shoppers, Loblaw to merge programsThe venerable Shoppers Optimum program from Canadian pharmacy retailer Shoppers Drug Mart, long touted as one of the most sophisticated and successful retail loyalty programs in the world, is no more. Thanks to the acquisition of Shoppers by grocery giant Loblaw three years ago, Optimum will be replaced by a new combined program called PC Optimum, which will combine Optimum memberships with Loblaw’s PC Points memberships. The new combined program will become one of Canada’s largest loyalty programs – and send the tumultuous Canadian loyalty landscape into a new era of consolidation.

By Rick Ferguson

PC Optimum, the new combined loyalty program from Loblaw and Shoppers Drug Mart, debuts on February 1, 2018. The news is long-expected following the recent split between CIBC and Loblaw ending their PC Financial relationship. Money quote from Galen G. Westin, president and executive chairman of Loblaw Limited:

“Retail is increasingly about customer relationships and loyalty will be central to the future of personalized value and experiences. Keeping customers at the heart of our thinking, we created the single PC Optimum loyalty program to give Canadians the value they have come to trust, with the ability to earn more points and redeem them in more stores than ever before."

And another from SVP Loyalty and Consumer Insights Jim Noteboom:

"We know how much Canadians care about their loyalty points, so we created the PC Optimum program by listening to our customers. They want a single, easy-to-understand program, covering our entire assortment of food, health, beauty and apparel. Most of all, the PC Optimum program will deliver on their expectation of equal value when the programs come together, with additional options to save even more."

Through a single card or app, members of the new program will be able to earn and redeem loyalty points across Loblaw's network of nearly 2,500 stores and its e-commerce sites. The current programs, PC Plus and Shoppers Optimum, have respectively 8 million and 11 million members – who, last year, redeemed points every two seconds of the day. Members of the Shoppers Optimum and PC Plus programs can continue to earn and redeem points as usual until the February 1, 2018 launch of the new program, when the full value of their existing points will convert to PC Optimum points.

The PC Optimum program will include elements of both the Shoppers Optimum and PC Plus loyalty programs, including weekly personalized offers, the ability to redeem points in-store, and exclusive points-earning and points-redemption events. The range of features includes:

  • Equal value when PC Plus and Shoppers Optimum points are converted to PC Optimum points.
  • One card or app for loyalty offers across the Loblaw and Shoppers Drug Mart network.
  • The ability to redeem faster: With the PC Plus program, members can redeem only once they reach 20,000 points. The threshold will be lowered to 10,000 with the PC Optimum program.
  • 50 percent more points (15 points vs. the current 10 points) for almost every dollar spent at Shoppers Drug Mart.
  • The PC Optimum program will have a single redemption table – i.e. 10,000 points equals $10 of value.
  • President's Choice Financial Mastercard cardholders will earn up to 30 PC Optimum points for every dollar they spend across Loblaw's retail network, with an additional 15 PC Optimum points for every dollar spent on eligible purchases at Shoppers Drug Mart / Pharmaprix stores

Loblaw has begun notifying members of both PC Plus and Shoppers Optimum of the pending change. The company will continue to share details with members over the coming months at the new program’s landing page.

Most telling—even though it’s a corporate PR-approved boilerplate quote, is the above comment from Galen Westin providing C-suite support for the company’s loyalty strategy. It’s that kind of C-suite backing that’s essential for any customer-centric strategy to work in today’s ultra-competitive retail environment. Given both companies’ long institutional history in operating sophisticated, successful loyalty programs that recognize and reward best customers, we have no doubt that the new program will soon become an essential component of the Canadian retail landscape.

Rick Ferguson is Editor in Chief of the Wise Marketer Group.