I joined Uniqlo’s loyalty program. I regret it already.

I don’t shop there myself, but my kids seem to love Uniqlo clothes, so last weekend we picked up some Minions t-shirts and headed to the register.

Joining the queue, I was greeted by a sign inviting me to become a member of Uniqlo’s reward program. The hook was a join bonus of an instant $5 voucher. I downloaded the app and commenced the registration process, which redirected me to the Uniqlo website. The process was a bit clunky, so I ended up having to step out of the line to complete the process, with protesting kids wondering what I was doing.

I eventually registered successfully after a few attempts, then headed to the checkout excitedly brandishing my $5 digital voucher.

‘No, no,’ said the cashier. ‘You need to spend over $50 to use this.’

‘But this is my join voucher,’ I argued. ‘ I haven’t spent anything’.

‘No, but, you need to spend over $50 for the voucher,’ he responded.

‘Huh?’

‘I think I get it, Daddy, said my 8-year-old. ‘You need to spend over $50 if you want to use the voucher. You’ve only spent $48.’ And he was right. The join voucher had caveats, and ones which hadn’t been stated clearly on the promotional poster, and now, as a new member, I felt embarrassed. Strike 1 against Uniqlo.

Strike 2 landed in my inbox the same day. I received an email titled ‘WELCOME TO UNIQLO ONLINE!’ with a follow-on message, ‘THANK YOU FOR SIGNING UP TO OUR EMAILS!’. Except I didn’t intend to sign up for Uniqlo online, and I didn’t specifically choose to sign up for emails. I signed up to access value; value from discount vouchers and value from exclusive member offers. The welcome email provided no mention of loyalty, no mention of rewards; no onboarding process at all, in fact.

And Strike 3 followed soon after. ‘Here it comes,’ I grumbled to myself. ‘I know it’s coming.’ And come it did. Email after email after email. 5 emails in just 7 days, promoting (mostly) women’s clothing, which I clearly have no interest in purchasing. Marketing assault at its finest. Non-segmented, non-personalised, one-size-fits-all eDMs, blasted 3 or 4 times a week to the entire base, including to this new (and now miserable) member.

According to a recent article, Uniqlo ‘. . . is now a world-wide force valued at $28 billion and occupies some of the most prestigious retail corners across the globe.’[1] Which begs the question; is it really beyond the scope of such a massive, wealthy, global company to invest a small portion of their profits into developing a best-practice rewards program? Is it that hard?

Here’s four cost-effective enhancements Uniqlo could implement right now to turbo-charge their rewards program approach:

  1. Update the app so that registration happens within the app. It’s not that hard, and it will increase the number of successful acquisitions, because potential members will be more likely to complete the process.
  2. Add instant value at join. Not $5 if you spend $50, which feels like some kind of trick, but a genuine $5 off for new members which makes them feel genuinely welcomed and rewarded.
  3. Implement a well-designed onboarding process, which delivers a range of dynamic communications to introduce new members to the program, and stimulates them to grow their visits and spend.
  4. Stop the marketing assault. Implement modern, personalised communications which deliver relevance and meaning, including the option for members to specify the types of offers and frequency of comms via a well-designed preference centre.

Uniqlo claim their clothes ‘are world famous for being high-quality, innovative, functional and affordable.’ I suggest it’s time for the company to invest in their rewards program so that it matches their brand.

Philip Shelper is a loyalty management consultant based in Sydney, who obsesses about everything to do with loyalty and member engagement. His company, Loyalty & Reward Co are Australia’s leading loyalty consulting agency.

Phil and his team regularly write highly-opinionated articles about loyalty, which they post on www.rewardco.com.au

Phil is an Advisory Board member of the Australian Loyalty Association. In conjunction with Sarah Richardson (Founder and Chair of the Australian Loyalty Association), he teaches their Customer Engagement & Loyalty course, Australia’s leading course on loyalty strategy.

Let’s connect!

LinkedIn: https://au.linkedin.com/in/philipshelper

Twitter: @phil_shelper

[1] https://www.news.com.au/finance/business/retail/the-name-change-that-built-a-28-billion-fashion-empire/news-story/a28e844bd2ac3f3b74a6a91178d6cef5

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