Loyalty scheme to use RFID for personal service
A new contactless smart card-based, customer identification system for restaurants is soon to be launched by US loyalty consultancy, Integrity For You (IFY). Diners will use the RFID (radio frequency identification) card to identify themselves at a kiosk upon entering a restaurant, and will be rewarded with personalised service and special offers.
When a card-carrying customer visits a restaurant, they swipe their card past the front of the wall-mountable 'kiosk', which also has a built-in colour display. As soon as they identify themselves, the restaurant's Maitre D' gets a small print-out bearing the customer's main details, and the personal service experience can begin.
The display of the self-identification kiosk, supplied by Hectrix (see Feb. 4th, 2003), is touch sensitive so that future promotions and expansions involving data entry or customer selections can be implemented without changing the hardware.
During the programme's launch, IFY will be issuing the RFID tags on behalf of the restaurants (in either postage stamp or credit card sizes), and membership will initially be by invitation only from each restaurant's management - a privilege for top customers, rather than a novelty for the masses. Once the programme is more mature, it is expected that most restaurants will open the programme up to applications from other customers.
Customer benefits The most important benefit that diners will notice is the personal recognition they receive during their visit, along with an accordingly higher level of service and attention.
Each restaurant will determine its own level and types of loyalty reward, and the programme is flexible enough to be able to operate based either on percentage discounts, or on the number of loyalty points built up in their account.
Each programme member will have their own on-line account control centre where they can examine records of their activities and rewards balance.
In its first pilot phase (during summer of 2003) the Personal Recognition programme is expected to roll out to a dozen restaurants in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of the US. Following that phase, the programme will be launched by other restaurants across North America.
Kiosk advertising While the kiosk is not in use by a customer, it will display a rolling sequence of ten adverts, each of around one minute in length.
The advertising messages, which are controlled centrally from IFY's data centre, will aim to be relevant to the restaurant's clientele, and are expected to include: up-scale alcoholic drinks, cars, watches, and other high-end goods.
The technology At the back end of the system, IFY supplies a standard PC compatible computer to manage the local functions, such as updating the adverts and software used by the kiosk, and printing out the customer detail slips.
The local computer is then connected to IFY's data centre, where information is received, held, and processed as required. All the components of the system, apart from the Hectrix kiosk terminal, have been developed and tailored by IFY.
During the initial launch phase, there will be no direct integration with point of sale (PoS) systems, although the second phase (during which a wider national roll out is expected), the PoS and payment services integration will become part of the standard implementation.
Also at that time, the service will expand to include other retail sectors including theatres, golf shops, car servicing and sales, dry cleaners, pharmacies, specialist boutiques, fashion shops, and others.
According to Barry Hyman, IFY's vice president of sales for customer retention solutions, "The expected return on investment will be less than one year for our retail clients."