For Customer Loyalty, If the Shoe Fits…

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Jun 14, 2004
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By John Hennessy

A lot of loyalty programs are soft in one critical area; delivering real benefit to shoppers. While not characterized as a loyalty program, Olly Shoes, the retailer Marianne
Wilson writes about in the June 2004 issue of Chain Store Age, offers a program that’s all about shopper benefit.

“Each child’s foot is scanned in an in-store computerized fitting station, and the customer is given a personal-fit number or ‘fit tag’ that is unique to each individual,” explains
Katherine Chapman O’Gara, the chain’s co-founder and ceo.

As described in the article, store associates use the personal-fit number to match customers with the right size shoes in Olly’s inventory database. Customers can also use the
number to assure proper fitting when shopping online at the company’s Web site.

And how is Olly Shoes doing? According to O’Gara, “We’re getting a huge repeat business. Our customized-fitting system, which we patented, is integral to our concept. It makes
for a better overall shopping experience. And nobody out there has anything like it.”

Moderator’s Comment: Why shop elsewhere?

I really like it when someone solves a persistent customer problem. The founders of Olly Shoes did just that. They identified the problem and built a business
to solve that problem through a data driven solution; fit-tag and shoe size cross-referencing. No cards to carry. No points to earn. They deserve to be rewarded with lots of business
and loyalty.

Through a combination of good fortune and the demands of gainful employment, I have avoided sizing and purchasing shoes for my toddlers. I have, however,
shared in the experience of their discomfort as they grow out of a pair of shoes. It’s not fun for dad or child.

Removing that pain, by taking the guesswork out of shoe sizing, is a powerful competitive advantage. If you offer it, I’ll buy my kid’s shoes from you.
I won’t quibble on price. And if you use growth charts to remind me when my offspring is due for another pair, I’ll dutifully parade in and buy more. You’ve made buying easy.

I may or may not tell you I’m loyal to your store. But you’ll get most of my kid’s shoe dollars. Any other shoe store will be hard-pressed to earn my business.


  • Proactive, personal recommendations based on purchase data-driven preferences.
  • Menu, accessory or related product ideas based on survey information.
  • Making a shopper aware of new products by a brand they consistently purchase.

What are some other ways retailers can use information to deliver a service that makes it inconvenient for shoppers to shop elsewhere?
John Hennessy – Moderator

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