I have a wallet full of loyalty cards. Every time I buy sushi, they sneak one into the bag. Every new place I get coffee from tries to get me to take a card – when we both know that it would take approximately 2 years for me to buy the required 10 coffees just to get one free. And if I really wanted to, it would be super easy to just forge the purchases by grabbing a pen and ticking away – loyalty cards operate on an outdated honesty system.
But here’s the thing. At the coffee place where I frequent the most (McGregor Brothers Kitchen), I don’t have a card to rack up stamps on. They have a prepaid card and its sooooo much better. I buy 10 coffees in advance, I get my 10% discount right up front. If someone else from the office pops down to grab a coffee and offers to pick one up for me, I just give them my prepaid card and there is no ‘I’ll pay you back’, or ‘Here is a handful of coins’ or any other payment method. And my order is written on the card so there is no mixup or crestfallen looks when they say ‘Sorry, I thought you said decaf??’
So why do retailers insist on putting the burden on the customer to drag round these silly cards, demanding their loyalty – just to eventually offer them a small discount or token? If they just gave it to the customer up front then the onus is switched round and there is a stronger incentive for the customer to return again and again. And if they don’t, it is their loss.
Soon, wallet cards will soon be a thing of the past as your phone will hold everything you need and you will arrive at your favourite cafe with your order ready and waiting for you. But until then, retailers should just chuck in the loyalty cards and give us back some wallet space. Please.
Update: Paying for coffee by just saying your name is on its way! Read more about Pay with Square here.