Nectar more successful than anyone anticipated
An incredible 25% of UK households already had their hands on Nectar loyalty cards by the end of the programme's second day, according to programme operator Loyalty Management UK (LMUK). But the sudden interest caused more of a splash than expected...
Over six million registration packs are already with consumers and LMUK estimates that, by the end of the launch week, over 10 million packs will be in circulation - enough to enrol more than 40% of UK households.
Indeed, the take-up and public interest has been so strong that the newly launched www.nectar.com web site simply couldn't cope with the demand at peak times. Over 100,000 people turned up to enrol online, and the unexpected surges of interest on the launch day (Monday, September 16th, 2002) did cause some minor problems.
Extra server "We did experience two surges in traffic for the site on Monday, at the peak times of lunchtime and early evening, which caused temporary problems due to the sheer numbers trying to access the site," explained an LMUK spokesman.
The company has responded by adding an extra web server to keep up with demand for the site's online-banking-like features. The Nectar help line is also able to advise users in case of any remaining difficulties.
Stores inundated Stores have been inundated with shoppers wanting a registration pack without delay. LMUK says that "hundreds of thousands of customers" have already started to use their cards with the Nectar sponsors (Sainsbury's, Barclaycard, Debenhams and BP) to collect points.
With over 10,000 unique visitors an hour coming to the programme's web site since Monday morning, Nectar's online presence is currently more sought after than, for example, the BBC's web site. "The response to Nectar's launch has been phenomenal," said Keith Mills, Chairman of LMUK, which operates the scheme on behalf of the four retail sponsors.
"We predicted that we would sign up half of UK households in the first year of launch. We produced enough cards in the first week to satisfy demand from over 40% of households. However, the response from UK shoppers has been so massive that, almost as fast as we stock the stores, the cards are being snapped up.", explained Mills, exhibiting some concern that stores such as Sainsbury's and Debenhams may run out of registration packs before the weekend. Mills says he has people working around the clock to produce more cards in time.
Web browser blues And, according to LMUK's statement about the technical problems that some of its online users have encountered, there is a small group of people who have been unable to access the Nectar web site because their web browsers are simply too old and out-dated. This is largely due to the fact that the site uses security technologies that have only been developed in recent years - the same technologies used by online banking facilities to protect personal and financial details.
Not many online users are affected because most have kept relatively up to date. LMUK is advising those who do have problems to update their browser software, which is usually free of charge. The Wise Marketer notes that the latest versions of both Netscape and Microsoft Internet Explorer browsers are available free of charge from many ISPs and high-street electrical stores (as part of their various internet access packages).