Tesco Expands Loyalty Program To Carpooling—And Not Necessarily To Tesco

Loyalty cards are usually a way of tracking customer preferences and pitching new purchases—that is, they're all about CRM. But Tesco, the world's third-largest retailer,is stretching the concept in a new direction. The U.K. grocer is testing a ride-sharing program that lets Tesco loyalty cardholders sign up online to share car trips to three North London stores. What's interesting is that Tesco's ride-sharing Web site doesn't just push rides to Tesco. It also encourages riders to use the service for commuting, getting kids to school and going to sporting events and shows.

Those activities aren't likely to directly increase Tesco's sales. But carpoolers who decide they like the service will have Tesco's name in front of them every time they book a ride through the system, which is run by a non-profit organization called Liftshare. Still, as an online marketing effort, the Web site for setting up rides is oddly low-key: Customers can't even click on the Tesco logo to go to Tesco's own site.