Regulars at Corp locations could be earning loyalty points through a new customer rewards card as early as this spring.
The program, which will be called “Shareholder Card,” was developed by Students of Georgetown, Inc. Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Vidur Khatri (MSB ’14).
Khatri put the plan in place soon after his term as CFO and treasurer began March 2012.
“We turn[ed] 40 in March, and other companies who have been around for 40 years usually give some sort of dividend to their shareholders,” he said. “Since Georgetown students are our shareholders, this is our way of giving back, besides the $75,000 we traditionally give back to the community.”
Though the card is still in the early planning stages, Khatri said he expects that plans will solidify within the next two weeks.
“I envision this card to be something every student already has or can easily sign up for,” Khatri said. “Every student will be able to have one.”
The Corp established an internal committee comprising representatives from its information technology, marketing, finance and business development divisions to assist in the development of the program. The committee has met approximately 12 times since the fall semester began and is in the process of ironing out details.
“We’re trying to decide what kind of card we want to use, what kind of point structure we want and how to have the appropriate rewards program that will be compatible with both grocery and coffee,” Khatri said. “There are just some great ideas that are being hotly contested right now.”
The Corp researched other companies’ customer loyalty cards during the development process and will convene two blind test groups next week to examine the merits of a variety of options under consideration.
“Some have club pricing, point rewards programs. We’re really looking to combine a lot of different things into something that will work best for our campus,” Khatri said. “We want to test brand awareness, usability and our own IT systems. … Especially on the IT side, we want to know exactly how much is possible.”
Khatri added that the new card system will allow The Corp to collect individual consumer data.
“With the card, we can track individual trends. For example, if one customer only shops at Vittles, why doesn’t he go to our coffee locations? Should we increase our promotions to raise awareness that our coffee shops sell things besides just coffee?” he said. “And we can also better serve our students and tailor our promotions and advertisements to them, such as providing more coupons so that Darnall Hall residents will go to Hoya Snaxa.”
Khatri added that students will be offered flexibility in how they can use the benefits attached to their cards.
“Ideally, you can accumulate points and you can either keep the rewards or you can donate the reward points to philanthropy or various organizations,” he said.
Students were receptive to the possibility of a customer loyalty card.
“I really like the idea of a loyalty reward card or a discount card at Corp locations,” Christina Wing (MSB ’16) said. “It’s definitely an incentive to choose Corp locations over other places, since many of the other coffee shops do not have loyalty reward cards.”
Alex Barnes (SFS ’16) also recognized the rationale for the card but said it would not increase his expenditures at Corp locations.
“I think it’s a great idea for the students because The Corp will become a more attractive option for basic grocery shopping,” he said. “I don’t know how much it’ll help The Corp, though, because I don’t intend to spend any more than my $100 Flex Dollars [on Corp products] this semester. … I wouldn’t spend any more money at The Corp under any loyalty card program, but I can see why other students might.”