STORES Magazine - June 2008 - (Page 48)

NUTS AND BOLTS / LOYALTY PROGRAMS Launching Lifetime Loyalty Private-label cardholders continue to bolster sales at Maurices BY REBECCA LOGAN rivate-label credit cards are viewed as far more than pieces of plastic at Maurices. Rather, they are another opportunity for the kind of quality bonding with shoppers that has become a cornerstone of the apparel retailer’s strategy. P “When a customer signs up for a card, she becomes an advocate of our brand,” says Vivian Behrens, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Maurices’ parent company, Suffern, N.Y.-based Dress Barn. She also spends more. The average dollar amount of a purchase made with a Maurices credit card is 36 percent higher than one made by a cash customer, says John Schroeder, senior vice president of store operations at Duluth, Minn.-based Maurices. Such purchases also are 30 percent higher than transactions made with other bank credit cards. In today’s tricky retail climate, shoring up the spend of shoppers who are still hitting the stores can be crucial. During Dress Barn’s Q2 conference call, analysts were told that Maurices’ average unit sales increased 7.5 percent, offsetting a 6.5 percent decline in traffic. Loyal customers are going to continue to shop when times are tough if they enjoy spending time in a store, Schroeder says. “Maurices is a brilliant example of how client commitment — matched with keen focus on a program — can really net some very significant success,” says Melisa Miller, senior vice president and chief client officer for retail services 48 STORES / JUNE 2008 The average dollar amount of a purchase made with a Maurices credit card is 36% higher than a purchase made with cash. at Alliance Data. The Dallas-based issuer of private-label card programs has nearly 92 million cardholders generating more than $7.5 billion in credit sales annually. Alliance Data had an existing relationship with Dress Barn that pre-dates the retailer’s 2005 acquisition of Maurices. Between the Dress Barn and Maurices concepts, about 25 percent of sales are done on private label credit cards, according to a corporate presentation delivered in April at the SunTrust Robinson Humphrey Annual Institutional Conference. Conference attendees were offered the following profile of the typical Maurices shopper: • She is between 17 and 34 years old. • She is single (61 percent) and working (83 percent), though she might also still be in school (50 percent). • There’s a good chance she still lives with her parents. The college customer is a major focus of Maurices’ credit card program, be it through campus connection programs or associate efforts. “Early credit experience is a really great tool,” Miller says, to “responsibly engage [shoppers] early in their buying life cycle when they have some new wants and needs.” From there, it makes sense to foster that relationship as needs change and shoppers evolve. That’s what Maurices is doing. “I will tell you that John is [intense] about inspiring lifetime relationships with his customers,” Miller says of Schroeder. “I have seen nothing like it.” Schroeder says he has seen several examples of three generations of one family shopping together — with all of them holding Maurices cards. Private-label credit cards can be “a great place to start understanding how you can cultivate more loyalty with the customers,” says Kelly Hlavinka, who directs consulting, publishing, educaWWW.STORES.ORG http://WWW.STORES.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of STORES Magazine - June 2008

STORES Magazine - June 2008
Executive Editor's Page
President's Page
Tesco Tests Carbon Labels
What Shoppers Think
10 Things You May Have Missed
Numbers Worth Counting
Full Price/Markdown
Retail People
Cover Story: Boom - or Bust
Green Retailing
Online Marketing
Building Traffic
Water Management
Digital Marketing
Loyalty Programs
Special Report: Taking on Teens
Supply Chain - Robo Crop
Human Resources
Supply Chain - Directory Assistance
Loeb Retail Letter
ARTS Update
Point of View
NRF News
Retail Crossword
Retail Industry Calendar
Last Laugh

STORES Magazine - June 2008