In its second-largest acquisition, Amazon buys the company for $970 million.
The Internet is fast reinventing nostalgia for the digital age. A recent rebirth: S&H Green Stamps. Renamed Green-points.com, the service rewards online shoppers with bonus points redeemable for merchandise and other perks.
Consumers who sign up for Greenpoints will receive a minimum of 10 points for every dollar spent on purchases at 100 merchants located in the Greenpoints.com shopping portal. Points, tallied at the point of sale, are stored in customer accounts at the S&H Web site.
Point savers can redeem them for more than 1,000 items, including frequent flier miles, gift certificates, games, toys, electronics, computers, office equipment, sporting goods, clothing, home furnishings, cruises and other vaca-tion packages. Points can also be accumulated offline at participating grocery stores and gas stations. In the works are plans to allow members to use their points, which never expire, to support community interests, pay for college, even fund a retirement plan.
But some question whether the program has the muscle to make a comeback in the already cluttered world of rewards programs. “Will anybody remember the S&H program other than consumers over 40?” asks Alan Alper, analyst with Forrester Research, Cambridge, Mass. “The demographic of the Internet is younger. S&H has a branding challenge in front of them. It’s going to take some time to build scale, and scale is what wins in the Internet space.”
For starters, Greenpoints needs to sign up millions of savers. Rod Parker, president of S&H, is con-vinced his company can do it. Over the course of three years, Parker says S&H will spend about $100 million for a three-pronged marketing and advertising campaign that includes trade and consumer print advertising, as well as online banner ads, and radio and TV commercials. “These marketing efforts will enable us to re-ignite this American cultural icon and create the only true branded digital rewards currency,” says Parker. “It’s our intent to aggressively advertise and promote the S&H Greenpoints brand to consumers.”
Parker says S&H also has partnered with Fleet to offer a cobranded, no annual fee credit card that offers Greenpoints to card-holders every time the card is used.
Originally introduced in 1896, the S&H Green Stamp program was considered one of the pioneers of loyalty programs. In its heyday, around 1964, the program had more than 30 million households collecting stamps, and 85,000 retail merchants.
Although the program never ended-a handful of small retailers still distrubute Green Stamps in the Midwest-changing consumer habits caused the program to nearly fizzle out in the early 1980s.
Alper maintains that rewards programs work. “Online retailers want to attract and retain customers. Nobody ever said this was rocket science. What applies in the physical world works on the internet as well.”