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Store Credit Cards: Still Very Much a Thing

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Remember these guys?
Remember these guys?

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

Store loyalty programs—which frequently take the form of branded credit cards—feel like a vestige of pre-internet days. Modern shoppers have the entire world wide web at their disposal (and they aren't afraid to use it)—so the idea of being beholden to one department store or burdened by multiple, limited-use credit cards seems like a remnant of the department store heyday, when shoppers could, and did, look to one destination for the majority of their needs. But according to L2 Think Tank, customer loyalty programs in general and credit cards in particular are actually even more valuable to stores today than they were before the digital age.

They explain in a blog post: "For the majority of stores and brands... loyalty programs provide the richest data available on who their consumers are, how they shop, and what they like and don't like." And the one thing these programs show over and over again is that people really like shopping in stores. "They like browsing online with their various devices and they may even prefer buying online, but they also want access to the physical store," L2 emphasizes.

L2 singles out Sephora as the shining example of a retailer that's managed to create a stellar omni-channel customer loyalty program. Their model includes a point system, redeemable for products, and, as anyone who has ever shopped at Sephora knows, they make a really big deal about your birthday. According to Medallia Resources, who implemented the program, the average user now logs in two to three times more often than before the customer loyalty program was introduced.

L2's findings also have interesting implications for e-tailers without have brick-and-mortar locations. Gilt has just become the first flash-sale site to offer a customer-loyalty program, for example, and they've given it an interesting online-only twist: Gilt Insider Program members are rewarded for spending money, of course, but also just for visiting the site. Members will receive five points for every dollar spent, 25 points for friend referrals, and 100 points for visiting the site five days in a row.

We're curious: Do you have any store-branded credit cards? Which ones? Speak your mind in the comments.
· Department Stores: Still Loyal to Loyalty Programs [L2 Think Tank]