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Loyalty solution helps retail consortium stay ahead of the competition

Choice Marketing

Customer retention is getting tougher for independent retailers. As customers have greater choice than ever, retailers must work harder to win their favour – and that means directing the right marketing efforts at the right customers at the right time.

That’s why Choice Marketing Group, a consortium of independent retailers, has extended its contract with ACT for the provision of its loyalty and rewards platform, GEL. An affordable card-based loyalty solution, GEL is delivered as a managed service and offers sophisticated insight to help retailers ore targeted marketing, drive repeat business and retain valuable customers.


A need for real insight

The 39 like-minded independent garden centres in the Choice Marketing consortium joined forces to compete with major chains by sharing costs and taking advantage of economies of scale.

ACT’s GEL solution was initially introduced to help the independent garden centres increase flexibility and responsiveness to changing customer needs. “GEL puts each garden centre in control of their customer data,” says Michelle de Lavis Trafford, CEO for Choice Marketing.

“Over the last eight years, the garden centres in the Choice Marketing Group have undertaken thousands of successful marketing campaigns using GEL and gained invaluable insight on their customers. Because GEL is so straightforward to use, the garden centres don’t need to recruit specialist staff to manage a profitable loyalty programme. The system has proved a great success.”

The platform is partitioned, enabling each garden centre in the group to access its own customer, campaign and reporting data on demand, through a secure online portal.

GEL provides a full suite of analytical capabilities that allows users to analyse and review their own data in just a few mouse-clicks. This allows them to quickly gain insight into the uptake of promotional offers, cardholder spending patterns, voucher redemption, recruitment by campaign (e.g. mailers, brochure drops or referrals) and inactive customers. Users can generate reports at their own convenience, making it easy to fit marketing activities around their business day.

Despite its advanced functionality, GEL is intuitive to master – even for non-technical users – and each garden centre receives personalised support through ACT’s ServiceDesk.

Importantly, the ACT solution is also cost effective to operate. As a managed service, ACT provide the commercial model that best suits each customer. This can be a fixed annual price or transaction based pricing.


The GEL loyalty solution for the ‘Gardeners Reward’ card gives garden centres complete autonomy to manage their scheme and generate targeted marketing campaigns and offers that drive repeat business and increase customer retention.

More importantly, the GEL platform has allowed the garden centres to grow their customer database. The total customer membership has doubled since implementing the GEL platform.

The user-friendly loyalty platform provides crucial customer insight. “The back office stores extensive customer and voucher data and the reporting function provides our members with greater insight into its customers and return on marketing campaigns. Our members continue to report increased redemption rates and a positive impact on customer satisfaction,” reports Michelle.

One such member is Carole Thomas, Marketing Co-ordinator at Raemoir Garden Centre. “The solution enables us to be more professional and responsive. For example, if a customer comes in who has lost their voucher, we can simply check online and find out instantly what reward they’re entitled to and voucher redemption is fully automated at the till.”

According to Michelle, this not only saves time – it enhances customer profiling. “When a voucher is redeemed in store, a retailer simply scans the unique barcode to redeem it. Best of all, we can report on the success and overall return on campaigns.”

ACT’s ethos of continuous evolution also offers long-term value to the group. In the eight years the Choice Marketing rewards scheme has been in operation, ACT has worked closely and tirelessly with the members, as well as their preferred marketing agency, to enhance the solution and continually enhance customer insight.


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“Over the last eight years, the garden centres in the Choice Marketing Group have undertaken thousands of successful marketing campaigns using GEL and gained invaluable insight on their customers. ”

Key facts

39 garden centres are benefiting from access to shared infrastructure and dedicated support.

400,000 active customer records managed by the GEL platform – supporting all reward voucher campaigns, birthday mailings and ad-hoc seasonal campaigning

Up to 26% growth in customer membership across the scheme for 2016

9.3x the value of the vouchers was spent in stores on redemption, generating significant additional sales for garden centres

“ACT takes care of everything – from integration with retail EPOS systems to data management and user support for each garden centre. ”
“There’s no doubt that working with an experienced and responsive provider like ACT has made this kind of initiative achievable. ”