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'Coalition Loyalty' Unravels as Plenti Pulls the Plug

Southeastern Grocers readies for launch of new rewards program

Plenti Rewards, the “coalition” loyalty program allowing shoppers to earn and redeem reward points among multiple retailers, will close down in July after three years, owner American Express said.

The wind-down was a topic of speculation after charter participants Macy’s, AT&T and Chili’s either dropped or expressed plans to drop the Plenti program in recent months. Another original Plenti member, Rite Aid, is in the process of being broken up and sold, while its largest grocery retail participant, Southeastern Grocers, is closing nearly 100 stores as part of a financial restructuring.

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Though the concept was lauded at its launch as a significant evolution in retail loyalty programs and modeled after similar programs in Europe, Plenti never reached altitude in the U.S. It drew very few new participants after its launch and did not have a grocery partner until Southeastern joined just over a year ago. Southeastern, parent of the Winn-Dixie, Bi-Lo and Harveys chains, on Monday announced its transition to a new loyalty program, called SE Rewards, which it will run in partnership with Excentus’ Fuel Rewards and Shell gas stations—the same group it had left to join Plenti.

Southeastern debuted its association with Plenti in its Harveys chain in late 2016 and rolled it out chainwide in 2017, saying its shoppers preferred the ability to redeem points directly for discounts for groceries, which its Fuel Rewards program at the time wouldn’t allow. The revamped program will allow shoppers to use points for grocery or gas discounts, Kaley Shaffer, a Southeastern spokeswoman, told WGB. She said the company would provide additional details on how that would work in coming months.

“We are committed to providing a loyalty program for our customers and associates that will best meet their everyday needs. We have listened loudly to our customers about all of the things they value with our current rewards program and how we can make our next loyalty program even better,” Anthony Hucker, president and CEO of Southeastern Grocers, said in a statement. “We are excited to announce that our customers will soon be able to redeem rewards for savings on fuel at participating Shell or other select fuel stations and on groceries through the SE Grocers rewards loyalty program.

"We will take every step to ensure this transition is clear, smooth and creates quality value and savings for our customers and associates where it matters most—food for their families and fuel for their vehicles.”

Customers can continue to earn Plenti points in Bi-Lo, Fresco y Mas, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie grocery stores through July 10, and the unredeemed points value earned in stores will be issued to the SE Grocers rewards program when the new program is launched. Customers must be fully registered in order to use points now or take the points value to the new SE Grocers rewards program.

The Plenti program also had a fuel partner in ExxonMobil. Points for gasoline at those stations were issued as a straight discount and not a cents-per-gallon discount, as used with Excentus.

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