Historic Canadian retailer Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) has announced major changes to its customer loyalty program that will help the department store compete with its rivals.

Since US retailer Target appeared on the Canadian landscape earlier this year – opening stores in a number of key urban areas, including Toronto and Calgary – other department stores have been spurred into action in an attempt to keep up with the competition.

For example, the Financial Post reports that more than 30,000 Canadians have already signed up for Target Canada’s loyalty debit card, which has only been available since March 2013. The card gives them five per cent off each transaction.

Hudson’s Bay Company is the oldest retailer in North America – founded during the fur trade in the 17th century, it has evolved into one of Canada’s major department stores.

But HBC’s senior vice-president of brand strategy, Patrick Dickinson, told the Financial Post that customers were not excited enough about the store’s previous loyalty program.

He explained: “Top line, the card is very highly held by consumers, but not very highly valued.

“They participated, but it wasn’t something that really excited them. There were a lot who were collecting points passively.”

While 4.6 million Canadians are members of the HBC loyalty program – which allows customers to collect points when they shop at Hudson’s Bay department stores, Home Outfitters homeware stores and their affiliated websites – this is less than half the user base that the company enjoyed at the peak of its loyalty program.

Mr Dickinson says a simplified points program – one point for every dollar spent, and the ability to earn even more points once a minimum threshold has been reached – will have more consumer appeal, and may influence them to spend at Hudson’s Bay stores rather than looking elsewhere.

Author Pippa Kulmar

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