Symbol groups need to offer their retailers a blanket loyalty card system that allows independent store owners to benefit fully from the schemes.

That is the view of retailers, including Harry Goraya, of Kent Nisa Local, who said loyalty schemes are a strong tool that help local stores in a competitive market, but groups need their own universal scheme, with identical EPoS systems, to make them fully effective.

“It’s hard to get loyal customers these days compared to the old days and loyalty schemes are a way of keeping hold of regular customers. I’d really like to do it but managing it seems to be the problem,” he said.

Mr Goraya already has a loyalty scheme for his coffee machine, which he said works well.

His comments come in the week the Co-operative Group announced plans to launch an online membership card at a cost of £1 for each customer who signs up to the scheme.

The launch is part of the company’s plan to revitalise its relationship with customers, following its 2013 scandal when the company revealed losses of £2.5bn.

Paul Cheema, owner of Malcolm’s Nisa in Coventry, said he would be interested in implementing a loyalty scheme.

“Customers are always seeking added value these days and it’s a great way of locking consumers in,” he said, but added that cost was a factor.

“Someone’s got to pay for it. You’ve got to work with your symbol group if they’re looking at doing it – embrace it.”

Serge Notay, owner of Notay Stores in Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire, unsuccessfully trialled a loyalty scheme 15 years ago. However, he believes another scheme could be more successful now, as customers are more engaged and familiar with points schemes.

Nisa Local retailer Siddique Sidhu said he plans to look at implementing a loyalty scheme when he expands his 800sq ft Wakefield store next year.