Jean Machine enlists loyalty machines

Customer service reps and cashiers have a lot to deal with: monitoring the store, helping customers, managing the cash and dealing with nuisances like lineups. And for Toronto-based Jean Machine's employees the onus was also on them to sign customers to the retailer's loyalty program - which proved to be an often-difficult task.

Customer service reps and cashiers have a lot to deal with: monitoring the store, helping customers, managing the cash and dealing with nuisances like lineups. And for Toronto-based Jean Machine’s employees the onus was also on them to sign customers to the retailer’s loyalty program – which proved to be an often-difficult task.

Even when they had time to recruit members, information was often recorded incorrectly – what with a bustling store and loud music, says Jason Perlman, marketing manager at Jean Machine.

‘With sign-up happening only at point-of-sale, customers actually had to make a purchase in order to hit the checkout, where they were offered membership,’ he says. ‘Customers didn’t have enough time to really think about whether they wanted to become a member.’ And often, he adds, it was the parents shopping with or on behalf of kids who were making the purchases, and they simply didn’t have the patience to wait for the sign-up process.

In fact, during peak times, like the back-to-school and holiday seasons, the membership drive was almost non-existent, says Perlman, simply due to both employee and customer time constraints.

Unhappy with the slow rate of membership sign-ups, Jean Machine looked to technology and the Internet to appease its young customer base, and build momentum for its loyalty program, which has been in existence several years. With the help of Toronto-based interactive agency Fourth Wall Media using creative from The Brainstorm Group, the retailer set up a self-serve Mac-based kiosk in its Yorkdale Mall location in Toronto, to encourage customer sign-up. The pilot launched in June.

The goal: To increase new membership sign-ups. This would further build the Jean Machine database and allow the retailer to begin ushering in new promotions and benefits, as well as maintain frequent communication at a much lower cost than the direct mail it previously relied on.

The strategy: To facilitate the sign-up process by encouraging customers to become loyalty club members – at their own pace – using either the kiosk or the jeanmachine.com Web site. The program was promoted in-store through P-O-P.

‘By taking it out of the employees hands, we’ve been able to give customers the opportunity to make the decision on their own time,’ says Perlman.

The execution: The Internet-based kiosk was simple and straightforward, and used funky graphics to lure customers. The Jean Machine-branded screen simply asked visitors for basic demographic information such as name, address, age and sex.

‘By putting it in a kiosk format, we were able to merchandise the program a whole lot better with visuals on-screen,’ says Perlman.

New members are also provided with a physical plastic loyalty card, which he says has served as a sort of reminder to customers. ‘Even if they go home to sign up on the Web, with the durability of the card and the fact that it is sitting in their wallet, they are constantly reminded that the program exists.’

The results: On average, since June, membership has been increasing at a rate of 40% per week, he says. And according to Fourth Wall, well over 1,000 shoppers have activated cards in the last couple of months. The retailer’s Web site has also experienced a major spike in traffic thanks to the pilot program. Traffic to the site has tripled since June. In fact, June and July – usually the slower months for the retailer – were two of the best months the site has ever had, Perlman says.

He believes the success of the pilot can be attributed to a few factors. First, providing technology in-store promotes curiosity, he says. And the typical young adult customer is computer- and Internet-savvy, and is far more willing to provide information.

‘Where we’ve seen the biggest improvement – not just in membership sign-up – is in the information we’ve acquired. It’s the integrity and accuracy of information that is the key. We’ve found that when customers makes that decision on their own, they seem far more willing to provide their correct information,’ says Perlman.

Down the road, Jean Machine plans to gather more information through promotional giveaways and contests, he says. And based on the success of the one kiosk, the retailer plans to place kiosks in its other stores as well.