Ascena debuts cross-brand loyalty program
Ann Taylor, LOFT, Lou & Grey, Ann Taylor Factory and LOFT Outlet — which together make up Ascena’s premium apparel group — Tuesday launched ALL Rewards, a loyalty program without a membership fee that for the first time enables clients to earn and redeem perks across all five brands.
The program includes customers without the retailers' credit cards, although card members earn five points for every dollar spent, while non-credit card members earn two points per dollar spent "on qualifying purchases across all five brands," according to a company press release. All loyalty members get $5 for every 500 points they earn, which they can use at any Ann Taylor, LOFT, Lou & Grey, Ann Taylor Factory or LOFT Outlet store or website in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
Other ALL Rewards include events and promotions, choose-your-own bonus points days, a birthday gift and other exclusive offers. Credit card holders also get additional benefits like "free shipping with a $75 online qualifying purchase, a welcome offer, an extra 15% off every first Tuesday of the month for qualifying purchases, and a dedicated customer service phone line."
Ascena follows Gap Inc. in tearing down walls between brands for its loyalty program.
Gap Inc. told Retail Dive last year that it developed that pilot because its "cross-brand customers are 10 times more valuable to Gap Inc. in one year than a 'one and done' shopper." In a statement, Ascena Chief Marketing Officer for its Premium Fashion segment, Laura Jacobs, said the new ALL program was developed because the company learned that its customers want "choices, convenience, fashion and the freedom to define her style, her way."
The move follows other efforts by retailers to expand loyalty programs and make them more meaningful to customers. That includes finding ways to draw in customers who don't want a store credit card, potentially a valuable twist in an era when younger consumers don't want many credit cards and when retailers want to collect data from all customers.
It seems fair to give extra perks to cardholders, considering those customers are often forking over extra payments that accrue to a retailer's bottom line. Ascena's decision to save its free shipping option for credit card holders is curious, however, considering that it still requires a $75 minimum purchase — a level equal to or higher than what many apparel retailers require regardless of credit card or membership status.
Ann Taylor and Loft otherwise require a $125 order minimum for free shipping on online orders. By contrast, American Eagle (which caters to younger consumers) requires a $50 minimum, and Free People requires $100, both without requiring a loyalty or store card signup. Rival Anthropologie requires customers to sign up for its free loyalty program, but not a credit card, to get free shipping on orders over $150.
According to research from e-commerce fulfillment firm Dotcom Distribution last year, some 91% of 1,400 consumers surveyed said being offered free shipping from a seller would make them more likely to become a repeat customer, while 90% said they found a free returns capability to be important or very important.
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