DSW on Thursday announced a revamp of its rewards program, DSW VIP, based on customer feedback. The new approach has three tiers — "VIP Club," "VIP Gold" and "VIP Elite," and speeds up rewards, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive. VIP Club and VIP Gold members get $5 birthday rewards, Gold and Elite members can give two $5 birthday gifts to friends, and VIP Elite members receive $10 birthday rewards.
All members earn 50 points by donating shoes at any U.S. DSW location, and all receive $5 rewards for every 100 points earned, the company said. VIP Club and VIP Gold earn 1 point for every $1 spent, while VIP Elite earns 2 points for every $1 spent, and VIP Gold and VIP Elite members enjoy early access to exclusive offers and events.
All members receive free ground shipping and free in-store returns. VIP Gold members also receive free online returns, while VIP Elite members receive free two-day shipping and free in-store and online returns for a year.
As many retailers have let loyalty programs languish, customers have lost interest, and DSW is just the latest retailer refreshing its reward system.
Shoppers are increasingly interested in personalization and immediacy in loyalty programs, with 69% looking for personalized offers based on their preferences and 74% of consumers saying immediate benefits are more appealing to them than accumulating points, according to a survey by Oracle last month.
That research found a mismatch between customer expectations and retailer assessments of their own programs: A significant 19% of customers said they rarely sign up for loyalty programs and half only sign up for loyalty programs that are "relevant" to them, yet 58% of retailers studied said they believe customers are eager to sign up. And they're off base in other ways, too, including the fact that less than a third of customers find brand offers relevant, while 58% of retailers think they're sending out relevant offers.
DSW apparently heard such feedback from its own customers, and the company in its release said that the idea to hand out points through donations of shoes and a simplified points system with faster rewards came directly from them. With the success that loyalty programs have had in buoying sectors like beauty, its a smart move to try and reconnect with shoppers' wants.
"DSW has been an innovative leader in loyalty since we launched our first rewards program 20 years ago, and since then our 25 million members have enjoyed great perks," DSW Chief Operating Officer Michele Love said in a statement. "The new DSW VIP program continues our innovative legacy by offering members compelling benefits and experiences when they shop for shoes. Our customers are very important people, so we want every member to feel like a VIP when they shop at DSW."