December 23, 2009, 12:00 AM

Best Buy beefs up its rewards program after trimming its membership

Best Buy now offers Reward Zone members personalized offers based on their preferences and reward certificates in electronic form. By requiring members to provide an e-mail address, Best Buy reduced membership from 33 million to 19.9 million.

There are now fewer members of Best Buy Co. Inc.’s rewards program, but they get more benefits.

The consumer electronics retailer has enhanced its Reward Zone program to provide members with personalized offers based on their preferences, reward certificates in electronic form, and access to members-only online communities and forums. Best Buy is No. 10 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide (a PDF version of the company’s financial and operating profile can be ordered by clicking on its name).

“Our Reward Zone members told us they want more communication, more offers and better support,” says Best Buy chief marketing officer Barry Judge. “We listened and made improvements that allow for a more customized experience, and ultimately, more meaningful benefits.”

Best Buy enhanced the program after culling its membership by requiring participants to provide a valid e-mail address. The company notified members in May of the change in program rules and gave them until Oct. 31 to provide an e-mail address. That reduced the U.S. membership from 33 million to 19.9 million, and enables the retailer to provide richer benefits, Best Buy says.

Members of the program receive points for purchases at Best Buy stores, BestBuy.com, and such Reward Zone partners as bookseller Barnes & Noble and online travel site Expedia. Members redeem points for certificates that are good at Best Buy stores and at its e-commerce site. There is no membership fee, but members must make at least one purchase a year to stay in the program.

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