U.S. retailers should look to the growth strategies of their European counterparts to achieve the same success, said speakers at the “Going Global — What Shoppers Wants; Retailers Need; What Brands Must Deliver” session at the Shopper Marketing Summit, Tuesday.

“It won’t be so easy to grow business simply by opening more stores,” said Wendy Liebmann, CEO of WSL/Strategic Retail. “We need to look beyond our borders and traditional ways of doing business.”

Alex GourlayLiebmann interviewed Alex Gourlay, EVP, president of Customer Experience and Daily Living for the Walgreen Co., and former chief executive for multinational pharmacy Alliance Boots. Walgreens purchased 45% of Alliance Boots in 2012, with an option to buy the rest in 2015.

Gourlay said that in the U.K., stores are not seen as destinations where shoppers can get the lowest prices. Instead of trying to get customers in the store, they focus on getting shoppers to buy one additional item.

One incentive is Boots’ loyalty model, referred to by Gourlay as a “treats” program, where customers earn points to be used to treat themselves to a discounted purchase of high-end beauty or skin-care products, at a later date. Points cannot be used until a certain number are earned.

“You may think it’s complicated, but shoppers love it,” said Gourlay. They were so committed to the card. It meant something to them. Customers [told] me they can never have enough points. The opportunity is to make it really significant and special in the shoppers’ lives.”

Gourlay said that forming customer intimacy has also been what has made Boots and Walgreens successful. “[The founders] of both companies were built on the spirit of being close to people in the communities,” he said. “You have to be patient, invest in shoppers and [invest] in what matters to shoppers.”

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