Waitrose makes u-turn on digital-only loyalty scheme

Waitrose has been forced to make a u-turn on its newly relaunched customer loyalty programme by reintroducing printed vouchers following “thousands” of complaints in just a matter of days.

The supermarket, which is part of the John Lewis Partnership, relaunched its digitally focused MyWaitrose scheme last month in a bid to make it more personalised for customers, with weekly rewards based on customers’ shopping habits.

Waitrose said the initial move to digitise the 50 million vouchers issued each year was “in response to customer demand”.

The move – which gives all 8.5 million loyalty card holders new personalised discounts every week – was designed to allow the supermarket to “invest more value directly into the pockets of customers”.

However, Waitrose users have been complaining about the scheme on social media, which has been branded as “confusing” and “discriminating” towards those without access to a smartphone, forcing the company to revert to a printed vouchers system.

Read more: New Waitrose loyalty scheme lets customers save on ‘products they buy most’

According to The Grocer, “thousands” of calls were also made to Waitrose’s customer service helplines, after customers were told in store that they could not redeem their MyWaitrose rewards using their physical card.

The Grocer reported that the helpline had been “utter chaos”, with many “angry and frustrated” customers threatening to shop elsewhere. Most complaints came from older or less tech-savvy shoppers, who often did not have a smartphone app or even an email address.

A spokesperson for Waitrose said: “Digital first does not mean digital only.

“Now that we have a better idea of which customers are engaging using smartphones, we’ll be identifying customers’ preferred ways to receive their offers, including print at home, vouchers in the post and coupons printed at till.”

Customers had also complained about the lack of clarity on how to access or use the new loyalty programme. In response, Waitrose is simplifying the app and offering staff training so they can help shoppers navigate the new system.

The supermarket’s relaunched loyalty programme first made headlines last month when it scrapped the free newspaper offer in exchange for weekly personalised offers and exclusive discounts across the store – including 20% off all food counters in the first month.

The changes will be rolling out within the next two weeks.

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