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Revealed: Sainsbury's trial of 'New Nectar' loyalty scheme extended nationwide

Revealed: Sainsbury's trial of 'New Nectar' loyalty scheme extended nationwide

Sainsbury's is quietly trialling a revamped version of its Nectar loyalty scheme across the country, MoneySavingExpert.com can reveal – and while it hasn't officially announced any wider rollout, a formal launch of the scheme is expected within weeks.

Nectar is one of the biggest loyalty schemes in the country, with more than 18.5 million registered users. Back in April 2018, Sainsbury's announced it was trialling a complete overhaul of it among 10,000s of customers on the Isle of Wight, and earlier this year it started testing a slightly different version of its new-look scheme in Welsh stores.

For now, the 'New Nectar' scheme is officially still under wraps – the supermarket told us this week it wasn't yet able to give details of how it will work. We know it'll allow shoppers to grab hundreds of Nectar points by pre-selecting tailored offers on the New Nectar app and website – though we don't yet know for sure if this will be instead of, or in addition to, the usual point you get for every £1 spent at Sainsbury's.

While New Nectar is still being trialled, shoppers across the UK have found they can already use it to earn extra points, and it's understood Sainsbury's is planning a full launch in the next few weeks.

For more on making the most of Nectar and other loyalty schemes, see Loyalty Points Boosting.

How does the New Nectar scheme work?

Details of the revamped loyalty scheme are still sketchy, but we know that shoppers across much of the UK are now able to use New Nectar as part of the trial. We've seen reports from Nectar cardholders in Belfast, Brighton, Derby, Didcot and Wakefield who've used it – plus the MSE team was able to successfully claim bonus points this week in two central London stores and a branch in south-west London.

Here's what we know so far – based on what MoneySavers have told us, plus what we've seen Sainsbury's tell customers on social media:

  • New Nectar is a revamped version of the Nectar loyalty scheme, open to new and existing Nectar members. If you're already a Nectar cardholder, you don't need to create a new account – but you will need to use the New Nectar website or download the New Nectar app in order to use the new scheme.
  • It gives you weekly bonus point offers based on items you regularly buy. Customers are sent a range of points-boosting offers based on their shopping habits (for example, 20 bonus points if you buy Sainsbury's Haddock Fishcakes). You can view these offers on the website or app, and must 'save' the ones you want to use before doing your Sainsbury's shop. You then have to use them within a certain period – it seems to be typically a week or so.
  • To get the bonus points, you then just scan your Nectar card at the till. At the moment you can do this using your physical card, but Nectar has also told customers on social media that new scanners are being installed at checkouts to allow customers to simply scan a barcode generated by the New Nectar app instead. When we tried this at one store in central London, the new scanners had already been installed so we just swiped the app.

    Once you've scanned your card, any bonus points relating to pre-selected offers are automatically added to your account.
  • You MAY still get one Nectar point for every £1 spent at Sainsbury's alongside bonus points. When the Isle of Wight trial of the New Nectar scheme was announced, the one point per £1 you usually get was removed – leading to fears many would be worse off under the new scheme. Yet in the Welsh trial, Nectar offered the bonus points on top of the point per £1.

    MoneySavers outside of the Isle of Wight who've now joined the trial have found they ARE still getting the point per £1 spent, and we did too when we tested this in three London stores. So for now, it seems as though the bonus points are generally on top of what you'd usually earn – yet there's no guarantee this will remain the case when the scheme is properly launched.
  • You MAY stop getting paper coupons with bonus point offers. Currently with Nectar, you'll be given paper coupons with bonus point offers when you pay for your shopping at the checkout. These are typically quite similar to the bonus point offers in the new Nectar scheme, and are based on what you often buy, though you don't get to pre-select them and you only get them after you've done your shop.

    Sainsbury's has said to some customers on social media that those using the New Nectar app will no longer get paper coupons. However, MSE understands this could yet change when the scheme is fully launched.

  • The ability to get regular bonus points on 'favourite' items has now been dropped from the trial. When the trial first launched on the Isle of Wight, customers were able to select a number of 'favourite' items which they would always get bonus items on. However, this feature now appears to have been dropped.

    We've seen a number of customers complain to Nectar on Twitter that they can no longer select favourites. Nectar told them: "The new Nectar programme is a trial, and we've listened to our customers' feedback from our trial areas to make some improvements and changes. As of 30 August the favourites feature has been phased out."

How can I take part in the New Nectar trial now?

Shoppers across the UK now appear to be able to take part in the trial. While Sainsbury's hasn't stated this formally, when we called the Nectar customer service department it confirmed that those outside of the Isle of Wight and Wales are now welcome to sign up.

However, it's worth noting this is still a trial, and it's understood Sainsbury's is not expecting large numbers of customers to sign up at this stage – so there's no guarantee what will happen if it receives lots of new sign-ups prior to its official launch of the new scheme.

If you want to give it a go anyway, you can sign up via the New Nectar website or download the New Nectar app (for iOS or Android). You'll need your Nectar details if you're already a Nectar cardholder.

If you're already using the new scheme, let us know how you've found it at news@moneysavingexpert.com or in the comments below.

'Big news for shoppers – but too early to see if New Nectar's better'

Steve Nowottny, news and features editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, said: "The extension of the New Nectar trial is big news for Sainsbury's shoppers and other members of the scheme – this is clearly a major overhaul and if an official rollout comes as expected, it's a major change in direction for one of the UK's largest loyalty programmes.

"With Sainsbury's remaining tight-lipped over the details of how the new scheme will work, it's too early to analyse what these changes really mean – and whether they'll be better or worse for shoppers. But in the meantime, it seems Nectar customers who want to take part in the trial and try it for themselves can sign up right away."

What does Sainsbury's say?

A Sainsbury's spokesperson told us they were unable to give full details of the scheme at this stage.

But she said: "We're fully committed to getting the scheme right for our customers, who we have listened to throughout the trial to make sure any changes we roll out nationally in the future reward our customers in the best possible way."