Why DSW Just Revamped its 20-Year-Old Loyalty Program

With a growing number of retailers revamping their omnichannel strategies in the digital age, one footwear chain is banking on its new loyalty program to help drive big business.

DSW today announced the launch of its redesigned app, DSW VIP, which aims to transform every one of its 25 million members into VIPs with its three tiers: VIP Club, VIP Gold and VIP Elite.

The program, which is loyalty-tailored to customers’ level of engagement with the retailer, allows it to strengthen relationships and win over customers with better rewards as they become repeat shoppers. Other companies, including Vans and Macy’s, have recently undergone a similar reinvention, with today’s highly competitive retail environment forcing them to invest in more personalized customer experiences.

While the VIP Club is free to join, Gold and Elite members keep their status with a respective $200 and $500 annual spend. All three tiers receive birthday rewards, but the latter two additionally earn shareable $5 birthday rewards coupons as well as early access to exclusive offers and events.

DSW also offers a charitable option: Customers can rack up points through in-store shoe donations to benefit the shoe retailer’s philanthropic partner, Soles4Souls, a nonprofit that collects new and gently used footwear to redistribute to impoverished families around the world.

The initiative comes 20 years after the company introduced its first rewards program.

“The new DSW VIP program continues this legacy by offering members compelling benefits and emotional experiences when they shop for shoes,” COO Michele Love said in a statement. “We want to inspire their self-expression. Our customers are very important people, so we want every member to feel like a VIP when they shop at DSW.”

As part of the launch, the retailer conducted a survey into the relationship between shoes and nearly 4,400 of its female customers. It found that more than a third of women buy new shoes at least once a month, with 95 percent owning more than 10 pairs of shoes and almost 75 percent owning upwards of 21.

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