October 13, 2023

DSW: An In-depth Analysis of its Successful Loyalty Program

Triyon Sengupta

The Designer Shoe Warehouse, popularly known as DSW, has set a commendable standard in the retail sector with its remarkable customer loyalty program. This case study delves deep into the workings of the DSW loyalty program, shedding light on its success factors and areas of improvement. The aim is to provide valuable insights for both budding and seasoned online retailers to design and implement effective rewards programs.

Understanding DSW's Loyalty Program: A Bird's Eye View

The DSW VIP program is the cornerstone of DSW's customer loyalty strategy. It leverages a tiered approach, offering increasing rewards as customers progress through different levels based on their annual spending. The program also employs a points-based system associated with the various levels.

Signing up for the DSW VIP program is completely free. Once enrolled, members are eligible to receive a variety of free offers, exclusive deals, and perks based on the points they accumulate.

How does the DSW VIP Program Operate?

The DSW VIP program is divided into three distinct levels: VIP Club, VIP Gold, and VIP Elite.

VIP Club

The VIP Club is the entry-level tier of the program. Members earn one point for every dollar they spend on eligible products. For every 100 points or $100 spent, they receive a $5 reward. Additional perks include free shipping on purchases and free in-store returns. Members who provide their birthdates are gifted a $5 discount during their birth month.

VIP Gold

The VIP Gold level is unlocked when a member spends more than $200 within a calendar year. Benefits are similar to the Club level, with the addition of two 2x points days per year, where members can earn double points on their purchases. Gold members also enjoy a $5 birthday coupon and occasional special offers throughout the year.

VIP Elite

The VIP Elite level, the highest tier of the program, is reached when a member spends more than $500 at DSW within a year. Elite members enjoy all perks of the lower tiers and more. Rather than earning a single point per dollar, Elite members are rewarded two points for every dollar spent. They also have access to a 3X points day once a year, where they can earn triple points on their purchases. Additional benefits include free 365-day returns, free two-day express shipping, and a $10 birthday coupon.

The Strengths of the DSW VIP Program

The DSW VIP program boasts a number of standout features that contribute to its success.

Straightforward and Transparent Structure

One of the program's key strengths lies in its simplicity and transparency. The benefits associated with each tier are clearly outlined, allowing customers to easily comprehend the value they're receiving.

Value-Driven Rewards

The DSW VIP program offers significant value to its members. Starting from the free membership level, customers can witness the tangible benefits they receive by simply making regular purchases. The offer of free shipping and returns is particularly enticing, potentially encouraging more frequent online shopping.

Fostering Loyalty and Motivation

The VIP program effectively motivates customers to strive for the highest status. The array of exclusive offers and perks available to VIP Elite members incentivizes customers to make repeat purchases and increase their order values.

Room for Improvement in the DSW VIP Program

While the DSW VIP program is largely successful, there are areas where the program could be enhanced.

Program Visibility

One of the program's weaknesses is its lack of visibility on the DSW homepage. The call to join the program is tucked away in the corner, with little information about its benefits. By making the program more prominent on the homepage, DSW could attract more new customers.

Differentiating the VIP Gold Level

The benefits offered at the VIP Club and VIP Gold levels are quite similar, with only a few additional perks for Gold members. This may not motivate members who are unable to reach the Elite threshold for a long time. Adding more unique benefits to the Gold level could make the program more attractive.

Conclusion: DSW VIP Program as a Benchmark

Despite some areas for improvement, the DSW VIP loyalty program has been highly successful in building a committed community of shoe enthusiasts. Its success offers valuable insights for other brands planning to launch or revamp their loyalty programs. With its easy-to-understand structure, value-driven rewards, and effective motivation strategy, the DSW VIP program stands as a benchmark in the world of customer loyalty programs.

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