Sam's Club Personalizes Discounts for Buyers
New York Times, By ANDREW MARTIN, May 30, 2010
SECAUCUS, N.J. — For years, hotels, airlines, banks, online retailers and other data-driven businesses have turned to powerful computers to help determine the optimal price for their products, or to find ways to recommend items that groups of customers with similar tastes might want to buy.
The big retail chains have been slower to adapt, in part because of the sheer volume of customers they serve and products they sell.
But now, Sam's Club, Wal-Mart's warehouse chain, is offering a program called eValues that strives to offer bargains tailored to each member, based on that member's buying history.
Industry experts said they expected other retailers to move toward more individualized offers, too. Today, most retailers offer across-the-board discounts or deals aimed at categories of customers.
Linda Vytlacil, vice president for member insights and innovation at Sam's Club, said coupons normally had a response rate of 1 percent or 2 percent. With eValues, she said, as many as 20 percent to 30 percent of eligible customers collect the discount they are offered.