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Bloomie's new calling card

Taking its cue from grocery stores and drug stores, Bloomingdale's will offer a loyalty card that is not tied to a store credit card. Here, a man carries a shopping bag from the Bloomingdale's store in the SoHo shopping district of Manhattan in New York City.

Kai Ryssdal: You know how a lot of times when you buy something at a department store, you're offered a discount if you sign up for a store credit card? You say yes, the store gets all your shopping data. You say no, the store's out of luck.

Bloomingdale's is trying to change that. Next week, it's going to start offering a loyalty card that's not connected to a credit card. Kind of like grocery store cards.

And get ready -- 'cause more could be on the way. Marketplace's Jennifer Collins reports.


Jennifer Collins: Vincent Quan is a professor at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology. He's also kind of a super shopper, and a man who knows his loyalty cards.

Vincent Quan: Honestly speaking, I have probably practically one from every major department store.

There's also the supermarket card, a Costco card and, of course, a bunch of drug store cards. Quan says in this competitive market Bloomingdale's needs all the business it can get. So the exclusive department store is becoming a bit more inclusive.

Quan: They could be trying to lower their bar and capture what they can with regards to the consumer that's spending.

Anthony Chukumba of BB&T Capital Markets says Bloomingdale's and other department stores are trying to wean shoppers off discounts by offering them rewards instead.

Anthony Chukumba: This is a way that Bloomingdale's can try to drive incremental purchases without having to constantly dangle that carrot of 30 to 40 percent off.

Loyalty cards can also help Bloomingdale’s reach customers who don't have its credit cards and target them with special offers.

Joel Bines: In the world of high-end retail, the consumer wants to be treated as though the retailer knows them.

That's Joel Bines, a managing director at Alix Partners. He says we can expect to see more of these cards, to which Vincent Quan says:

Quan: You know your wallet's only yea-big.

Are you listening Bloomingdale’s? Quan needs reward points to buy a bigger wallet.

I'm Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

About the author

Jennifer Collins is a reporter for the Marketplace portfolio of programs. She is based in Los Angeles, where she covers media, retail, the entertainment industry and the West Coast.
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