WHAT'S BEHIND THE RISE IN RETAILER LOYALTY PROGRAM REVAMPS?

Companies from Nordstrom to J. Crew have invested in loyalty programs. Some removed barriers, others added them, but the changes all said something about the strategy. In the past year, the space was reshaped when a slew of retailers reinvented, upgraded and dropped loyalty programs. The multi-retailer Plenti program shut down in July after Macy's and several other important participants bailed. And several retailers have tweaked or added internal loyalty programs. Program changes have ranged from department stores, including Macy's, Nordstrom and Kohl's, to big-box and specialty retailers like Target, DSW and Lululemon. While some of the changes are likely just the result of natural investment in that part of the business, retailers also face pressure from higher shopper expectations.