- Gap has expanded last year's pilot of a new rewards program, dubbed BRIGHT, adding all of California to the original tests in Dallas and Atlanta, the company told Retail Dive in an email.
- The loyalty program, which allows customers to earn points for every dollar spent across its Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Athleta brands, has surpassed 1 million members, according to a company blog post.
- It's the latest example of a retailer beefing up a rewards program that doesn't require a store card. In May, Macy's expanded its Star Rewards to include customers regardless of how they pay, Target is testing a new set of perks that wouldn't require signing up for its REDcard and most recently, J. Crew last week launched one that garners members points and free shipping.
On its face, these efforts are simply a way to make more customers stickier. Gap in particular says that by spreading the loyalty wealth across its four major brands, the company compounds its own rewards. "By unlocking rewards across our brands, the program also encourages cross-brand shopping — and we know that our cross-brand customers are 10 times more valuable to Gap Inc. in one year than a 'one and done' shopper," spokesperson Christopher Cooney said in an email. "This program is key in delivering against growing that customer base of loyal shoppers."
But this trend could signal a shift in attitudes about payment, too, as younger shoppers stray from using traditional credit cards. Last week, Abercrombie & Fitch added Venmo as a new payment option for shoppers on its namesake and Hollister apps for iOS and Android, and said it's the first specialty retailer to offer the ability to purchase products directly through a Venmo account. Nearly three quarters of Venmo's user base are under 35, according to Verto Analytics, making it a good fit for teen-focused brands.
Indeed, more younger consumers are also opting for longer-term financing and rejecting the stiffer terms of most traditional credit cards, according to Peter Caparso, president of Checkout.com North America. "Millennials are more likely to use the credit card in order to build up their credit rating and not for day to day living," he told Retail Dive earlier this year. "Growing up during the Great Recession, has given them, definitely it seems to me, a reluctance."
That means more are likely hesitating before adding yet another card to their wallets, especially the often Draconian terms of store-branded accounts, making cardless loyalty options key. And Gap's Cooney more or less said as much, noting in a statement that the new program "provides Gap Inc. with another way to reward our customers in addition to our credit card program, and allows customers who may not yet be ready for a credit card to start acquiring points toward future purchase at any [of] our brands."