Willys+: Digital loyalty program boosts sales for Axfood

Owned by Axfood, one of Sweden’s leading food and wholesale groups, Willys sought to increase sales and improve customer service.


A strategy was created that called for a departure from traditional point-based programs. Through customer surveys and focus groups, Accenture together with Willys, designed a loyalty program that differentiated Willys from their competitors—with their target group’s needs as a point of departure.

Although Willys dominated Sweden’s discount food retail market, the company faced increased competition and needed to step up their game when it came to customer loyalty.

Since Willys had no loyalty program, they lacked the insights surrounding buying behaviors and preferences. Working with Accenture, Willys launched a pre-study to determine whether a discount retailer would benefit from creating a customer loyalty program.

The results of that study showed a positive business case, and highlighted competitive threats for not acting. In 2010 the company decided to move forward.


Accenture, together with Willys, designed a loyalty program that differentiated Willys from its competitors called “Willys+.” The program strengthens the brand’s mission to help families buy groceries at a lower cost.

How? Willys+ offers loyalty customers steep discounts on items that can be used together to create family meals.

Another feature of Willys+ is completely digital. Willys decided to use a website, mobile app, and push emails as the main channels of communication with customers. Through these channels, shoppers receive offers along with information on how much they’ve saved through the program.

And based on their behavior and preferences, customers are sent tailored offers that address their individual needs.


Working side-by-side with Willys, Accenture was responsible for designing the overall loyalty program, executing the systems implementation based on Oracle Siebel, and running the application operations.

The original goal of this program was to attract 1,000,000 members in three years.

The launch of the Willys+ program in February 2013 exceeded this goal by engaging 1,000,000 active members in the first six months.

Also during the first six months:

  • The Willys+ app was downloaded a whopping 400,000 times

  • The program website got 900,000 visits a month

  • 800,000 loyalty members signed up to receive email offers

This program strengthened Willys overall results in 2013, increasing net sales by 5.1 percent.

Better still, nearly half of Willys’ customers now identify themselves in store, driving insights into their shopping behavior that allow Willys and Axfood to stay ahead of the game when it comes to pleasing customers.

Willys+ garnered industry accolades as well. In fact, they won the bronze medal in the prestigious “Golden Key” award, an annual Swedish industry event that recognizes excellence in direct marketing. Willys+ received the honor in the category of “best customer loyalty program.” The retailer’s pioneering use of a completely digital program was one of the factors for the win.