At the moment the first Neanderthal pulled a boulder across the front of their cave and laid out whatever goods he or she wanted to exchange for something else, the concept of customer loyalty was born.
If Ugg dropped by everyday with some tasty nuts or nice skins or whatever, Mog would make sure that he kept the nicest flint tools he’d carved aside for Ugg. If he didn’t, that fella in the cave downhill would surely get the goods instead.
My mum worked in an old-fashioned corner shop for many years, where Gerry the butcher would know that Mrs Murphy’s family got pork chops for dinner on a Wednesday, so he made sure to keep some nice ones aside for her. This system worked, Mrs Murphy knew that every Wednesday, she would get what she needed.
I’ve got a customer loyalty card for a certain large supermarket chain, and being the geek that I am, I do my big grocery shop online on a Friday night, for delivery on Saturday morning. The Baskerville Beasties love the regular visitor who arrives with boxes of treasure. Harking back to Gerry’s encyclopaedic memory of his customer’s habits, the delivery man knows that if he brings the box with the carrots in first, and hands out one to each of the hounds, they’ll get busy chomping and won’t mob him to see what is in every box. They adore him.
When I log in to start my shop, I can go through a list of everything I have ever bought from that store, tick off frequent purchases, add to favourites and find special offers. I also get little vouchers in the post that I can use to either claim extra loyalty points, get a discount on some items or pay for some of my shopping.
On the surface, it seems like the digital culmination of Mog’s first primitive steps into the world of retail, and Gerry’s instinctive understanding of what his customers wanted, but the reality is, no matter how regularly I shop on a Friday, when the driver arrives on Saturday morning, at least 10% of the items I ordered were not available for packing.
When the little vouchers arrive in the post, they invariably apply to items that I don’t buy, e.g. if it’s a less expensive product, a more expensive brand is promoted. It’s the equivalent of Gerry offering Mrs Murphy a whole ham on Wednesdays when she planned to serve pork chops.
Given the opportunity they have to ensure they know what their customer wants, it is really daft to see how ineffective the big stores are when it comes to supplying according to demand – maybe a course in basic economics should be mandatory for their marketing departments and web developers. They could also do with some pointers from the nice delivery man.
Meanwhile, I’m off to fill my my shopping basket with nuts and trundle on over to Mog’s Emporium, I know he’s got some nice items in stock that I actually want.
Two Cents Tuesday: Loyalty – Picture By Charles R. Knight (http://donglutsdinosaurs.com/knight-neanderthals/)
FYI: Wikipedia on Mousterian – a look at tools made by Mog and his friends.