Waitrose digital-first loyalty scheme collapses in ruins

That didn’t take long did it? Just two weeks after introducing its digital-first myWaitrose loyalty scheme – and scrapping free newspapers in the process – Waitrose has been forced to ditch it, re-introducing printed vouchers (although not the newspapers, yet) alongside the digital gubbins.

This follows thousands of complaints from customers who didn’t like the scheme, many of whom have stopped shopping at Waitrose entirely. Staff have complained about the volleys of complaints they’ve received.

My “tailored offers” last weekend (two) included 50p off a tin of tomatoes. Now there’s reason to shop at Waitrose (where most other things are more expensive.)

The bonkers scheme was launched by head of loyalty and CRM Carl Kirby (he was then anyway) with, believe it or not, assistance from M&C Saatchi alongside Eagle Eye, Go Inspire Group, Ecrebo and Salesforce. Which, among other things, shows that more often means less.

Heaven knows how much these geniuses charged Waitrose who could have decided the scheme wouldn’t fly just by talking to a few customers in a store. Bet they didn’t though. They probably conducted an online or even mobile poll to give them the answer they wanted.

And it’s not just that digital-only offers don’t appeal to dinosaurs unable to use their phones, as some at Waitrose are trying to suggest. The new scheme was a shoddy attempt to save money by hiding behind technology.

M&C and their alies should be ashamed of themselves. As should John Lewis Partnership chair Sharon White who’s clearly been too busy trying to sort out John Lewis than worry about once-prized grocer Waitrose.

When the next supermarket market share numbers emerge, expect more bad news for Waitrose.

This is an updated version of an earlier story.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

One comment

  1. I am reasonably tech savvy, even though I would be regarded as ‘senior’, but I have struggled to use Waitrose new loyalty scheme. When I logged on with mobile phone it kept taking me to my online orders, which I used for a while during lockdown. I now shop in store most of the time and wanted to use the online vouchers and although several appeared, they had a very short use-by date and once clicked on, could not be changed if I decided I preferred the discount on another item. I was steeling myself to go into the store and ask for help at the reception desk, then though I would use my PC to see if more information came up on the ‘big screen’ . Then I found your article that the whole scheme had collapsed. I must say I am not surprised, but it would be nice if Waitrose could make that clear on their website. Very disappointing. Waitrose, please ask your customers next time!