Standalone smart card loyalty for small businesses

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on July 25, 2005

Standalone smart card loyalty for small businesses

The UK smart card loyalty system provider Smart Card International is marketing a new standalone, smart card-based loyalty system for salons and beauticians, and plans to expand to other countries after tackling the UK market.

The Salon Rewards loyalty programme is not alone, either. Smart Card International (SCI) also markets a Retail Rewards system for independent retailers and a Dining Rewards system for independent eateries, both using the same smart card technology.

Gemplus hand-held smart terminalThe system is based on either a handheld or desktop terminal (made by Gemplus), and can be operated without a computer or database. In fact, according to Bob Cuthbertson, managing director for SCI, the system is being deliberately targeted at store owners who are not necessarily computer literate, because it offers them a technological solution without the need for complex set-up or maintenance.

The system can, however, be supplied with a software link to a desktop computer system instead if the business owner wants it, through which there are options for audit trails, databases, marketing and reporting facilities.

How it works When a customer joins the loyalty scheme, they fill out a membership form and provide their contact details. The optional database software can be run on a PC to store that information, helping the business owner to monitor usage, identify their most profitable customers, and mail them with special offers or newsletters.

Using plastic credit card-style smart loyalty cards to store the customer's points, the Salon Rewards loyalty system rewards customers with loyalty points every time they make a purchase. The cards, costing around £1 each (approx. US$2) are provided by SCI in any quantity, and are provided pre-printed with the business name, colours and logo.

Bottom line effect According to Cuthbertson, the loyalty system actively encourages customers to become loyal because they can redeem their points at the same salon or store where they were issued. This has the effect of generating repeat business, and has been observed increasing the frequency of customer visits as well as the amount spent during each visit.

Cheap and fast Because SCI's systems have no infrastructure to set up or maintain, they naturally have a low cost of ownership, usually with a relatively quick return on investment (ROI) to follow. According to Cuthbertson, "The investment each month works out to be less than a one day advertisement in a local newspaper."

Another benefit of being a small, standalone system is that - other than providing and proofing the initial branding, graphics, and colour schemes - the set up time is minimal. The system is usually up and running on the day the hardware and cards are received by the business owner.

Staff training is minimal as well, as the number-pad handset has clear instructions on its LCD display. It is also completely independent of the point of sale (PoS) system, and can even be used off-site if required.

In the box As standard, the system includes a hand-held or desktop smart card reader (with integrated key-pad and LCD display), the necessary cashier cards and 100 branded loyalty cards, a marketing guide and a branded promotional starter pack. Starting prices for a single store are under £1,000. For details, contact Bob Cuthbertson at SCI.

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