Jim Maze, an Ace dealer in Warsaw, Ind., was never much of a loyalty card user himself.
“I have one for the grocery store, and I kind of don’t like it most of the time,” he said.
But the newly revised Ace Rewards card program has softened his out look.
“It has kind of changed my mind because we have a program that is extremely successful. I do think it brings the customer back more often,” said Maze. “What has impressed me from the beginning is how the customers take pride in having their rewards cards.”
Making a personal one-on-one connection with customers is what Ace is looking to its recently revamped Ace Rewards program to do.
For most retailers, the goal behind any reward card program is to entice customers to come back and hopefully increase the average sale. Along with that is the collection of data to help design more targeted promotions. Ace first launched a card program in 1997 under the Helpful Hardware Club banner and this April reenergized its efforts by changing the name to Ace Rewards, issuing new sharp-looking black, red and white cards, and strengthening the program with a hefty corporate push.
“To refresh the brand, we set out to update the name with something that can be more easily said at the point-of-sale, leverage the Ace brand and communicate a loyalty or rewards program message to the customer,” explained Phil Bauer, customer relations manager of Ace Hardware.
The old name was “a mouthful,” acknowledged Bauer, “and many retailers elected to call the program something else.” On top of that, he said, research found that the name had low brand equity among members.
With Home Depot and Lowe’s ever looming, winning customer loyalty is key to the success of a cooperative like Ace, where the focus is on service and convenience.
In 2006, Ace’s reward card transactions represented 24.3 percent of all transactions. The corporate goal is to grow that to 60 percent by 2011. In educational materials for its dealers, the company said another goal is to “annually grow same customer sales 25 percent higher than overall same-store sales.”
New in-store counter top signage touts the Ace Rewards program. Sale