Sainsbury's Launches CRM-Based Coupon System, Claims To Be First In The U.K.

U.K.-based supermarket chain Sainsbury’s is making what it called its "biggest investment in customer loyalty" since 2002 by introducing devices that spit out CRM-based coupons at the cash register.

The 792-store $32 billion chain said it is the first retailer in the U.K. to introduce a "coupons at the till" program, a multi-million-dollar project that will extensively use historical customer purchase information gleaned from its Nectar loyalty card database "to ensure that coupons are specifically targeted at what Sainsbury's Nectar card holders actually buy."

However, customers without Nectar cards will still be issued coupons based on what they purchased that day, Sainsbury's said.

The multi-colored coupons, offering discounts of as much as 20 percent on both brand-name items and Sainsbury's-branded products, "will be generated on-the-spot through standalone printers that are currently being rolled out to 13,000 checkouts across 535 Sainsbury's supermarkets," Sainsbury's said. It will be in all stores by November.

The Sainsbury's coupon effort might seem a bit outdated given the rash of other retailers that are now rolling out mobile couponing programs. It should also be noted that Sainsbury's previously tried a mobile coupon scheme but pulled the plug in 2007 after a two-year trial.

At the time, a company spokeswoman would not reveal the reasons for canceling the mobile initiative. It was speculated that the trial showed the mobile coupon effort to be overly costly to implement, largely because it would have necessitated upgrading the stores' POS systems so they could read the coupon bar codes displayed on customers' cell phones.