Interview • 01.09.2010

“We do not deal with data, but with fashion“

Interview with Thomas Wanke, Managing Director Adler-Modemärkte

Whether it’s Payback, Ikea Family or Bahncard – there is no ideal customer card. A conclusion, Stiftung Warentest (the German equivalent of “Consumer Reports“) arrived at in August. They investigated how big the average financial benefit is and how customers can collect discounts or points. From a total of 25 providers, the testers liked the customer card of fashion chain store Adler best. Thomas Wanke from the Adler management team explains why they make do with limited customer data and why a three percent discount is a great offer.

Congratulations, your performance was the best according to the magazine ”Finanztest”. Since when have you offered your customer card? How did this customer reward system develop over time?
The Adler customer card has already been available for over 36 years, since 1974. Our customer card can be used in all of our 130 fashion stores in Germany, Austria and Luxembourg and also of course in our Online-Shop.

Which of your customers use this card the most?

More than half of our customers use the card regularly and very actively. Especially our loyal customers receive the Adler Gold Card which entitles you to additional exclusive services and benefits.

Do card holding customers purchase more often and more than regular customers?
Yes – the incentive is truly higher.

What other tools do you use besides the card to encourage customer loyalty?

We regularly stage various different events for our customers. This could be a fashion show, a breakfast invitation, autograph sessions with popular stars from TV and radio and the like. Sometimes we also just give our customers a little gift or have a surprise for their birthday.

“Finanztest“ criticizes that customers are lured with minimal discounts. At Adler you get a three percent discount. Is it not necessary to give more?

The great thing about the Adler customer card is that it is free and not dependent on a minimum purchase amount. In a competitive comparison we are far ahead of the pack by offering our 3 percent “no ifs or buts“ discount. In addition, we regularly do sales promotions where customers for instance receive an instant rebate of 20 percent on selected items or on any item of their choice.

The testers also criticize that companies collect too much data from their customer cards. Which data do customers need to provide for your card?
Their name and address are enough, so we can inform the customer about their rebate balance. There is no need to fill out many pages and hard-to-understand forms. The card already has the customer’s name on it when it is issued, is immediately ready for use and works at the first purchase.

Which tools do you use for data analysis and what do they tell you about the purchase behavior of each customer?

The data is solely processed in-house with mostly self-developed systems. We do not pass personal data on to other companies.
We do not deal with data, but with fashion, and to be able to offer our customers exactly the right fashion we use check-out data for analysis purposes.

How do you use the data for a more tightly focused sales approach?

If a customer gives us their date of birth, we wish him/her a happy birthday. If a customer spends more than 500 Euros a year, we send the customer gold card I mentioned earlier directly to his/her house. If a customer for instance communicates their preference for larger sizes or children’s clothing, we can then of course address his/her special interests with corresponding sales offers.

How will your customer loyalty system continue to develop?

We constantly try to improve and optimize our customer card. We are also always searching for additional benefits, also through our co-operation partners. What we will not do is “complicate“ our customer card. Straightforward 3 percent at any time and right from the start and no obscure point systems give our customer confidence and transparency.

Interview by René Schellbach,

Logo: Maxicard GmbH

Maxicard GmbH

Gewerbering 5
41751 Viersen

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