John Hadden, CEO, and Nida Unas, Director of Loyalty, at Alshaya Group’s launch of the Aura in UAE. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Shop, win points on the loyalty card. Not any longer – because retailers are tacking on a whole set of customer experiences (CX) into these programmes.

Kuwait’s Alshaya Group has launched a new one – Aura – that promises shoppers points on transactions as well as private sessions with a chef or a makeover exercise. In other words, points and experiences, all of which could help with consumers staying loyal.

“Loyalty programmes have always been about giving value back, where members are rewarded for their purchases,” said Nida Unas, Director of Loyalty, Digital and Marketing at Alshaya, whose portfolio of brands encompasses fashion to F&B to home furnishings. It is also the regional franchisee for Starbucks.)

“The Aura will run across the 70 brands that we operate, it will be the common ‘currency’ connecting them. And we add exclusive experiences, that’s what today’s consumers want just as much as reward points earned.”

On the Aura, for every Dh10 spent, 10 points are earned that can be utilised across all Alshaya stores and restaurants (excluding Starbucks). Image Credit: Supplied

Aura, in fact, replaces the Privileges Club loyalty programme, which has been running for five years. The new one was introduced in Qatar first earlier this year, then rolled out in the home market Kuwait, and has just hit the UAE. During this period, 1 million of Alshaya’s shoppers have gotten the Aura.

But why switch from an existing one, which to all intents and purposes had been doing well? “We went by the feedback from customers, who wanted something more generous, dynamic,” said Nida. “That’s what we worked on these two years, and decided to stagger the Auro launch in phases.”

This is where a session with a chef - and experiences, generally – can help. Apart from the points, members to the loyalty platform get have that something extra. And these days, CX does matter in cementing a consumer’s interaction/interface with the retailer. Because even if the sale happens via an online platform, it needn’t be all process driven.

“Points can of course be won offline and online, but in markets such as the UAE, with so many competing loyalty programs, a reinvented one can score,” said the Alshaya official.