Officials at Hibbett Sports, a sporting goods retailer founded in 1945 in Birmingham, Alabama, realized their loyalty program needed a refresh.

Hibbett Sports operates more than 1,000 stores in 33 states.

Sarah Sharp-Wangaard, vice president of marketing at Hibbett Sporting Goods, talked to Loyalty360 about the loyalty program redesign.

What prompted the loyalty program relaunch at HS and what are the main enhancements to it?
Sharp-Wangaard: We analyzed several key performance indicators that signified the program needed a refresh with enhancements and some strategy shifts to align the program with the customer. We were starting to see a loss of engagement as one-time buyers started to rise and reward redemption rates decreased. The redesign process brought a range new benefits to the customer and also an elevated tier with additional benefits to our best customers.

What are your goals for the relaunched loyalty program from a customer engagement perspective?
Sharp-Wangaard: Engagement is the main goal of the program. We needed to educate our customers on the value of the new program, not only for rewards, but also for the range of additional benefits the program offers. It’s paramount for customers to understand the new program and its value for it to be successful.

Did Voice of the Customer or anything else factor into the research period before the relaunch?
Sharp-Wangaard: Yes, absolutely. The voice of the customer and the voice of our store associates were the foundation of the redesign. In the initial phases, we reached out to both audiences and conducted surveys and group discussions to analyze the perceived value of the program and what steps we needed to take to make it better. We were excited by the amount of feedback we received from both groups and it guided the strategic initiatives we put into place.

Are consumers changing today and, if so, in what ways?
Sharp-Wangaard: We definitely see that customers are always evolving and their expectations are always changing. For loyalty, it means a constant adaptation and we always need to keep a pulse on what our customers are experiencing not only in our stores but in competitors. The redesign of our program was one way we could adapt to our customer and provide a better experience.

We are still early in the relaunch as it was about four months ago, but early indicators are all very positive. We have seen redemption rates increase exponentially. We have also launched our e-commerce platform which has been a great impact not only on the business, but for the Hibbett Rewards Program.

How will the re-launched loyalty program better meet customer expectations?
Sharp-Wangaard: By lowering the threshold to earn an award from 350 to 200 Points, it will make an immediate impact. We are also offering more benefits than ever before such as birthday offers, early access to product and events, Double Points events, and we are also really focused on the customer flow to make sure the experience was optimized for members. We’ve also added a VIP status for our top customers to have increased earning power. That includes modifying the point structure. One dollar previously earned only one Point; now it earns one and a half. VIP members also receive free shipping anytime and at any threshold when shopping online at hibbett.com.

What does customer loyalty mean to HS and has that definition evolved in recent years?
Sharp-Wangaard: Customer loyalty means serving our customers to the best of our ability anytime and anywhere they want to interact with Hibbett. We want to ensure that their experience is as premium and seamless as possible regardless of the shopping channel. Whether they are shopping in one of our 1,100 brick-and-mortar locations and are interacting face-to-face with our well-trained store employees, or visiting our new e-comm site where they can shop our full product assortment from their own home, our goal is to build a long-term relationship with the customer. 

We want them to feel value, not only through our premium product offerings, but also by being rewarded when they shop with us. But it doesn’t just stop at the purchase. We have to continue to evaluate results and build out new and exciting benefits that keep the customer engaged with, not only our loyalty program, but with our brand. We are working to truly understand the value of our customers and how they can help us positively impact our business not only in the short term, but also for the long-term future of Hibbett.

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