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Shopping rewards

Go shopping and come back loaded with gifts — this is the mantra chanted by customers of Get More.


GONE ARE the days when shopping just meant spending money. A few years ago, stores started offering discounts and selling goods much below the MRP in a bid to attract customers, but things have now come to such a pass that they don't think twice before rewarding you for shopping.

Cashing in on the public craze for freebies, big stores, credit card companies and some other firms allow you to accumulate points when using their services. The points can be redeemed to pay for subscriptions or to effect further purchases.

Doing away with that exclusivity is a new shopping rewards programme pioneered by the Mumbai-based Venture Infotek. Under their "Get More" scheme, you can gather points whenever you shop at a member outlet and redeem them for gifts.

An advantage for the customer is that their members span the market spectrum. So, be it a medical shop, eatery or a readymade garments store, you are on the path to collecting freebies.

But, does the customer stand to lose out in the long run, forfeiting any discounts otherwise offered by the retailer? "No", says Sanjay Sharma, President - Loyalty Programmes and Corporate Communications, Venture Infotek.

"There are no hidden costs. However, an individual can become a member only on paying a fee of Rs. 99."

He says the scheme allows the retailer to beat the competition and get more customers. It also enables him to reward loyal buyers.

The merchants, appointed after their reputation is verified, pay a participation fee of Rs. 20,000, valid for a period of two years.

Since they are spread over 43 categories, the customer gets to add on to his points on almost every kind of purchase, soon earning back the Rs. 99 he spent on getting the card.

Along with the card, the customer also gets a booklet with details of the participating merchants in the city, area-wise.

After a certain number of points are accumulated, patrons can choose from 160 gifts, half of which are imported. The rest are specialised items, which are not available off the counter.

And, how are the points calculated? "That depends on the kind of purchase made and the profit margin in that line of business.

It might also differ depending on whether the retailer markets branded products or locally made ones.

The margin on the former is less, so the number of points per hundred rupees will also see a decrease. However, we don't allow the range to vary much," Mr. Sharma says.

The company is planning to soon launch the scheme in Madurai, Tiruchi, Salem and Tirupur. In Chennai and Coimbatore, it is already making waves, he says. In this city, the participating merchants are approximately 250 and their number is growing.

And, what does Venture Infotek gain from this? "We get to keep the enrolment fee of Rs. 99 and the participation fee of the merchants," Mr. Sharma explains.

In Coimbatore, the participating shops include the Sree Annapoorna Sree Gowrishankar chain of hotels, Mahaveer's, Pavizham Jewellery and Alagu Pharmacy.

SUBHA J RAO

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