Reviewing the most popular grocery loyalty programs in Europe: Bonuskaart with Albert Heijn
About Albert Heijn
Albert Heijn is a Dutch supermarket chain that was founded in 1887 by Albert Heijn. Today, the chain is part of the Ahold Delhaize group, which is one of the largest food retailers in the world. Albert Heijn operates over 1000 stores throughout the Netherlands and Belgium, and offers a wide range of products including groceries, household items, electronics, and apparel.
Over 22 million customers are signed up to one of Ahold Delhaize’s loyalty programs, with AH’s Bonuskaart being the most popular and the most frequently owned loyalty card in the Netherlands. Other Ahold Delhaize’s stores include the liquor stores Gall & Gall, which offer customers a discount card for a fee of €10 per year. Cardholders will see their card displayed in the AH app, allowing a 10% discount on wine and whisky orders made through the AH website.
Albert Heijn’s Bonuskaart Loyalty Program
The Albert Heijn loyalty program is called “Bonuskaart”.
The program aims to reward customer loyalty and encourage repeat business through a range of benefits and incentives.
How does the Bonuskaart program work?
Albert Heijn stores offer customers a barcoded bonus card (or ‘Bonuskaart’ in Dutch) that provides discounts on certain purchases promoted in-store.
Based on a 2018 survey, the industry digital magazine distrifood.nl suggested that Dutch people are more likely to carry an Albert Heijn Bonuskaart than a driving licence.
In the past, customers had to give the Bonuskaart to the cashier to be scanned. More recently all old-style checkouts are equipped with scanners that enable customers to scan their own cards. In Albert Heijn stores self-checkout counters are increasingly replacing traditional cashier checkouts, often outnumbering them. Self-checkout customers can simply scan their Bonuskaart along with their purchases.
The Bonus Card program offers various benefits to members, including discounts on select products, personalized offers based on their shopping habits, and exclusive access to special events and promotions.
The strengths of Albert Heijn’s Bonuskaart loyalty program
- Large Network – With over 1000 stores in the Netherlands and Belgium, Albert Heijn has a large network of locations where customers can earn and redeem points.
- Loyalty App – The AH app has a feature that allows customers to add items to an in-app shopping list, meaning no more forgotten shopping lists or items. The AH app also includes a recipe section, which makes it easy for customers to buy all the necessary ingredients, either in-store or online. This is a relatively recent addition. At present the proposed recipes seem to be the same for all members. (An opportunity to further personalise the shopper experience could be to propose recipes partially based on purchase history and encouraging customers to try different products). The app also makes it easy to keep track of savings stamps earned based on purchases.
- Personalized Offers – The Bonuskaart program offers personalized offers and promotions based on customers’ shopping habits, which helps to keep them engaged with the program and the brand.
- Exclusive Access – Members of the Bonuskaart program have exclusive access to special events and promotions, which helps to make them feel valued and appreciated by the brand.
- Discounts on Select Products – The program offers discounts on select products, which provides customers with a tangible incentive to participate in the program and shop at Albert Heijn.
- Online and In-Store Redemption – Members can redeem their points for discounts either in-store or online, providing flexibility and convenience.
The Weaknesses of Albert Heijn’s Bonuskaart
- Difficulty to digitize its traditional features – While AH has been pro-active in embracing technology to automate and digitize its loyalty program, the proven and enduring popularity of its traditional features mean that their rewards program difficult to update. There are undeniably many interesting and replicable facets of their strategy, but the inherent complexity is perhaps one of the downsides of Albert Heijn’s approach.
As it increasingly moves to app and web-based programs, it still remains shackled to this keyring function of the Bonuskaart. This is also a hinderance to fully digitalizing the system, the disadvantage to the customer being that the AH app cannot be used as a keyring.
Results of Albert Heijn’s loyalty program
AH sees the Bonuskaart as a major contributor to the supermarket chain’s ongoing success, and the ubiquity of the Bonuskaart since its introduction in 1998 proves its enduring popularity.
In terms of results, Albert Heijn has reported that the Bonuskaart program has been highly successful in increasing customer loyalty and sales. The company has stated that customers who participate in the Bonuskaart program tend to spend more and visit Albert Heijn stores more frequently than non-members. Additionally, Albert Heijn has used data collected through the program to create targeted marketing campaigns that have helped to increase sales and profitability.
Overall, the Bonuskaart loyalty program has been a key factor in the success of the Albert Heijn brand and has helped to differentiate the company from its competitors in the highly competitive Dutch and Belgian grocery markets.
When it comes to loyalty programs in the grocery industry, marketing experts and strategists unanimously agree that grocers have unique challenges for several reasons:
- High competition: The grocery industry is highly competitive, with numerous stores vying for customers’ business. This means that a grocery loyalty program needs to stand out and provide significant benefits to customers in order to be successful.
- Large customer base: Grocery stores typically have a large customer base, which can make it challenging to manage and personalize communications and rewards for each individual customer.
- Complex product offerings: Grocery stores offer a wide variety of products, which can make it difficult to create a loyalty program that is relevant and appealing to all customers. For example, a loyalty program that offers rewards for buying meat may not be relevant to vegetarian customers.
- Low margins: Grocery stores typically operate with low profit margins, so loyalty program rewards and discounts can quickly eat into their profits. As a result, it can be challenging to design a loyalty program that provides enough value to customers while still being profitable for the grocery store.
- Limited differentiation: Grocery products can often be perceived as commoditized, meaning that customers may not be loyal to a specific grocery store. As a result, it can be challenging to create a loyalty program that differentiates the store from its competitors and encourages customers to shop there more frequently.
Overall, the challenges associated with launching and managing a successful grocery loyalty program like Bonuskaart by Albert Heijn can be significant, but with careful planning and execution, a successful loyalty program will help grocery stores retain customers and increase sales.
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