A mobile phone-based loyalty scheme set for a nationwide launch in c-stores this summer was the subject of an aborted trial with Sainsbury's that started as long ago as 2005.
Plans to roll out the Shop Scan Save loyalty scheme to PayPoint terminals from 1 July were unveiled this week. The scheme is backed by 250 brands owned by companies including Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, Mars, Unilever and Red Bull.
Consumers in the scheme receive barcode-based SMS vouchers on their mobile phones, which they can redeem when scanned on a PayPoint terminal in-store.
Members can also text key words such as chocolate and wine and receive a tailored offer on their phones. However, far from being a new initiative, it was trialled at 35 Sainsbury's at Jacksons stores in Hull from November 2005.
The Light Agency, which runs the Shop Scan Save scheme, pulled out of the Sainsbury's venture this February after deciding the retailer was not sufficiently committed to the scheme. "Sainsbury's was too busy trying to get its own business on track," said Marc Lewis, chairman of The Light Agency. "It just didn't have the appetite I was looking for. PayPoint is lean and hungry."
A spokeswoman for Sainsbury's said it had not pursued the scheme because it did not appeal to enough of its customers.
In 2005, when he revealed the Sainsbury's at Jacksons trial, Lewis said he believed the scheme would be better suited to larger supermarkets. However, he admitted the focus for the UK would now be on independent retailers through PayPoint, which has terminals in 16,000 stores across the UK.
"Our research found users like the convenience element of mobiles and the convenience channel complements this. We want to stay local in the UK, but have not abandoned supermarkets because we are launching the system with large supermarkets in Australia and the US."
The scheme would benefit independents because it would increase footfall and improve voucher handling, he added. The voucher claim process is automatically handled by PayPoint and shopping discounts are returned to retailers within a few days.