After two years of constantly being asked (aka "pestered) by my now eight-year-old daughter for a dog (or any pet that is more interactive than a goldfish), I've finally compromised with a hamster purely by chance. Friends of ours had recently brought home a female hamster, and (surprise, surprise) two weeks later, they were looking for homes for 11 baby hamster pups.
Since the pups were not yet ready to be weaned from their mother, my daughter and I had several weeks to get ready -- and we spent that extra time visiting a number of local pet stores and purchasing an assortment of hamster books, toys, exercise equipment, food, bedding, and cage -- not cheap! Now, I'm usually an online shopper (i.e. I love reading user reviews and comparing prices), but for kids, there is absolutely no online substitute for actually walking into a store and physically picking out something you want.
We have two competing pet shops within close proximity to where we live, and I signed up for their rewards programs to get discounts on select items. I'm sure it takes a while to get my data into the system (after all, I did fill out a form the old-fashioned way), but as it has been more than two weeks for one store and over a week for the other, the window of opportunity is getting smaller as we by now pretty much have most of what we think we need. Everything I've purchased has been purely hamster or small animal related, so in an ideal world, the stores would have me easily figured out as a hamster owner.
Here is what I would be expecting of a loyalty rewards program:
Point me to some useful links, either information provied by the company or external websites where I can learn more. Any value-add a business can provide to make my life easier makes me a much more loyal customer. What things can I expect as a new pet owner? Any hamster communities? Any hamster-related events? Any vets that specialize in small animals in the vicinity?
Send me an email with other related products I may be interested in. Upsell and cross-sell to me. We've go the basics and a couple of luxuries, but at this point, I'm pretty excited (surprisingly) about the hamster, and my daughter is footing the bill with her birthday and Christmas money. She and I would be more than happy to spend her money!
Get this information to me faster. As I mentioned, my window of opportunity is getting smaller, as eithe rmy daughter's money will run out on other things or we'll start losing the thrill of buying new hamster toys and treats.
I realize this is easier said than done, and undoubtedly, the stores are getting value knowing my basic customer information and purchase history. Buth, they could really benefit by delivering a loyalty program that really earned my loyalty. "Goldeen" needs a new water bottle, yogurt chips, and chew toys as he doesn't seem to like the ones we bought. So for now, I'll just go to whichever store is the most convenient.
Oh, and just for fun (not related to this post), here are a couple of videos my daughter really got a kick out of watching:
Hamster on a Piano
Tic in a Spin-Dryer