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Sainsbury’s trials new Nectar points scheme: would you be better off?

The supermarket is testing a new way to collect points

Sainsbury’s is experimenting with a new Nectar scheme where you only earn points on products you preselect. But are shoppers likely to benefit from the new system?

The supermarket, which acquired the Nectar scheme in February, is running the trial in all its Isle of Wight stores.

While Sainsbury’s says the revamped programme will reward loyal customers with more, some shoppers could lose out by not actively choosing offers. Here’s what you need to know.


How the new Nectar scheme works

Currently, the Nectar scheme pays one point for every £1 spent in Sainsbury’s stores or per litre of fuel at Sainsbury’s petrol stations.

Under the new system, shoppers in the Isle of Wight will need to choose offers online or via the Nectar app, which are curated based on the products they buy most often.

After making their selection, shoppers will need to buy the item within seven days and scan their app or swipe their plastic Nectar card to collect the points.

Shoppers will earn points on these offers, with the amount awarded depending on a customer’s loyalty.

Sainsbury’s told Which? average customers will be offered eight or nine bonus point offers each week, but there is no upper limit.

It also told us that there is no set minimum or maximum points for the offers, but typically the most ‘loyal customers’ will receive more points than another shopper. Loyalty will be determined by several factors including  frequency of shop and size of shop etc.

The new Nectar scheme will offer points equal to the value of the existing scheme: 500 points will still be worth £2.50 and existing point balances won’t be affected.

Households will also still be able to pool their points together via the app. However, Sainsbury’s encourages individuals to set up their own accounts so that offers can be personalised to their preferences.

Will you be better off?

The new scheme means you earn points on fewer items you purchase, but could potentially receive more per item.

However, if you don’t select the offers, you won’t be able to earn points on them. This means you really need to actively engage with the scheme to benefit.

The new scheme is also digitally focused, requiring offers to be picked online or through the Nectar app.

If you don’t have a smartphone you can use on-the-go, it could be harder to collect points on your shopping. Sainsbury’s told Which? customers who do not have access to a smartphone or the internet can contact Sainsbury’s careline on 0800 636 262 to get help activating offers on their account.

The other risk is that if you don’t shop regularly enough, Sainsbury’s won’t have enough data to be able to make a personalised offer based on your shopping habits.

However Jude Thorne, CEO of the Ice loyalty scheme, warned a system that requires active participation could put collectors off: ‘With this trial, the risk is making the scheme complicated and hard work for the customer. The best loyalty schemes are the simplest, but collecting points alone can be passive. Schemes where customers can easily spend their points for real value get the highest engagement and strongest loyalty.’

Can I opt out of the new Nectar scheme trial?

Until 29 April, Sainsbury’s shoppers in the Isle of Wight will collect points as normal unless they opt in to the new Nectar trial.

After this date, you will be automatically moved onto the new scheme, meaning you will need to select offers if you want to continue to build up Nectar points at Sainsbury’s.

Will the Nectar scheme change across the UK?

Sainsbury’s says the Isle of Wight trial will run indefinitely, with insights from the trial used to shape the future of the Nectar scheme.

Helen Hunter, director of Innovation at Sainsbury’s, said: ‘By giving them the option to choose the products on which they earn Nectar and awarding points based on loyalty, we’ll be able to show our most valuable customers how important they are to us.

‘We’ll be actively listening to customers during the trial so that we can shape new Nectar as we learn.’

Is Nectar changing with other partners?

You can continue to collect Nectar points with other retailers, such as Argos and Ebay. The way these points are collected is not changing.

Are Nectar rewards changing?

Points can also be redeemed in the same way, with the chance to boost them with partner offers.

What’s happening to other loyalty schemes?

Sainsbury’s isn’t the only retailer to revamp its loyalty scheme.

In January, Tesco tried to simplify its Clubcard scheme rewards by allowing customers to redeem points for three times their value at partners rather than at two or four times.

The change was meant to come into effect on 15 January but Tesco pushed back the overhaul to June after criticism that the move gave customers little notice to use points at the higher boost value.

Waitrose has also launched a new loyalty scheme replacing its ‘pick your own’ offer. Now instead of shoppers selecting the offer, Waitrose picks them for you and sends vouchers through the post or at the checkout.

Which? Limited is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Which? Financial Services Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 527029). Which? Mortgage Advisers and Which? Money Compare are trading names of Which? Financial Services Limited.

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