Shop for free – using a mobile app: Rewards are part of a growing relationship between retailers and shoppers
Documents: Businesses gain valuable insight into the habits of customers who use apps
Tens of thousands of M&S customers collected their purchases for free last year – the equivalent of half a dozen people per hour.
Donations do not come from a wealthy benefactor. They are offered at random from the store itself – a happy surprise delivered at checkout for those with a digital Sparks Card on the M&S mobile app.
It has been almost a year since M&S relaunched its loyalty card program. Last July’s revamp replaced a physical card and points-based system with instant rewards and treats offered through its digital alternative.
Since then, one customer per store has been paid for their shopping every week.
A couple got lucky at a checkout in Milton Keynes with furniture worth Â£ 3,400 for their new home.
And over 3.5 million new customers have flocked to join Sparks since its transformation. A free store can also be awarded when paying online.
Customers can also find personalized offers and discounts in their Sparks accounts.
Nearly five million gifts were also given, including 72,000 fresh avocados, 170,000 apothecary candles and 1.5 million packs of the store’s famous Percy Pig candy.
But M&S ââcustomers aren’t the only ones who can reduce the cost of their purchases with an app. There is a growing trend for this type of reciprocal relationship between retailers and buyers.
Businesses gain valuable insight into the habits of customers, who in turn pay less for their purchases and receive freebies along the way.
Nectar offers personalized offers to Sainsbury customers through its app and claims users typically earn three times more points than traditional using a loyalty card.
Points can be spent on various benefits, including reducing the cost of a grocery store.
Oli Townsend, Assistant Offers and Features Editor on the MoneySavingExpert website, said, âWhether it’s free food you were looking for or an extra discount, there are plenty of apps for buying offers.
âSome phone networks offer rewards to their customers through apps, such as Vodafone’s VeryMe and O2’s Priority. The offers change regularly, but we have seen perks like free coffee and chocolate, as well as discounts on beauty products. ‘
The Quidco cashback site’s ClickSnap app pays customers for groceries at a supermarket. Customers simply need to choose an offer in the app and download a receipt showing the item. The cashback is paid to their Quidco account, which can then be transferred to a bank account.
The Shopmium and CheckoutSmart apps work in a similar way.
According to CheckoutSmart, its members earn an average of Â£ 50 per year, while the most dedicated fans receive over Â£ 500 per year.
There are also freebies to pick up from local supermarkets through the app. For example, members can have free snacks with McCain’s Brew City range on days when home countries of Britain play in the UEFA European Football Championship.
Ricky Willis, editor of the Skint Dad website, says, âOverall, shopping apps won’t save you a fortune, but regular use cuts the cost of shopping.
âOne of my favorites is Shoppix. You take a photo of your receipt, upload it to the app, and you’re rewarded with a choice of Love2Shop, Amazon or iTunes vouchers – or you can cash it into a PayPal account. ‘
When using these apps, Townsend of MoneySavingExpert advises you to verify that you picked up the correct product from the store – making sure the flavor or size matches exactly, for example – and remember to keep the receipt so you can upload a photo of it.
YOU CAN GET CHEAPER FOOD WHILE REDUCING WASTE
It is possible to grab cheaper take out using an app and reduce food waste.
Oli Townsend of MoneySavingExpert said, âThe Too Good To Go app connects you to local cafes, bakeries and restaurants, which have leftover food at the end of the day. You can buy the food for between 2 and 4 pounds, at a discount of at least 50 percent – some up to 90 percent. ‘
The free Olio sharing app connects you with people in your neighborhood who distribute excess food for free, rather than throwing it in the trash. Alternatively, rather than lowering the cost of grocery expenses, you can use purchases to lower the cost of your cell phone bill.
The Airtime Rewards app does just that. Buyers link a debit or credit card to an app account and get discounts on their mobile bill when they shop. It works in major brands including Boots, Greggs, and Primark.