November 18, 2010, 1:03 PM

Buy.com learns from its new corporate parent

Consumers earn ‘Super Points’ on Buy.com purchases and can use them for future transactions.

Lead Photo

The Super Points logo

Online discount retailer Buy.com Inc. today introduced a loyalty program that enables customers to earn points that can be redeemed to pay for later purchases with the e-retailer. The program, called Rakuten Super Points, resembles the loyalty program offered at the Japanese e-retail site Rakuten Ichiba, which is owned by Buy.com parent company Rakuten Inc.

The program typically offers one point for each dollar point, and amounts to a 1% discount on purchases at Buy.com. But Buy.com says it will up the rewards at times. For instance, with today’s launch, the retailer is offering 20 times the points for all purchases made in the toy and baby store categories through Nov. 24, and triple points on all other purchases through Nov. 19.

Rakuten, which owns Rakuten Ichiba, bought Buy.com for $250 million this year. The Japanese company says this is the first time it has made the Super Points program available outside of Asia. The Rakuten Ichiba Super Points program is available to consumers in Japan, China, Taiwan and Thailand. The Super Point program is available only on the U.S. version of Buy.com.

The Super Points program at Buy.com works like this: A consumer logs in to her Buy.com account and makes a purchase with a credit card on Buy.com. Purchases made using payment services such as PayPal Express, Google Checkout or Checkout by Amazon do not qualify. A consumer typically earns one point for each dollar spent, excluding shipping, tax and other fees; when redeemed, one point is worth one cent. The retailer credits the points to the consumer’s account. Consumers can redeem points after 45 days, which is Buy.com’s time limit for returns. Consumers cannot earn points for gift certificate purchases.

Buy.com customers cannot redeem the points at other Rakuten-operated sites, although a Buy.com spokeswoman says consumers will be able to redeem points at other Rakuten sites in the future.  Points expire after 180 days if the consumer has not made another Buy.com purchase. If a consumer makes a purchase within that time, the site renews the points for another 180 days. 

 “Following in the footsteps of our new owner Rakuten, which has been the Asian e-commerce leader for years, our Super Points program adds yet another way to delight the customer as we move into the full swing of the holiday shopping season,” says Neel Grover, CEO and president of Buy.com, No. 32 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide.

Buy.com joins other e-retailers that offer loyalty programs. Best Buy Co., No. 10 in the Top 500 Guide, has offered its Reward Zone loyalty program since 2003. EBags.com (No. 117) converts 5% of each purchase price into points. Each point is redeemable for $1 off a future purchase. Cabela’s Inc. (No. 35) offers its Club Rewards members 2% of the purchase price back as points redeemable on future purchases. Overstock.com Inc. (No. 28) and Borders Direct (No. 194), which operates bookseller Borders.com, both offer paid loyalty programs that provide deeper discounts and free shipping.

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